BETHEL PARK, PA—Speaking slowly and moving stiffly Tuesday, Pittsburgh-area resident Matt Van Duyne attributed his hangover to everything but the excessive amount of alcohol he'd consumed the previous night.
"One big problem was the empty stomach," said Van Duyne, holding his head and taking deep breaths. "I really should know by now to make sure to eat a piece of pizza or some french fries or something before doing any drinking. That kind of greasy, high-carb stuff works best, I find, because it really soaks up the alcohol. Another thing I neglected to do was drink a lot of water. That's key. Also, I forgot to take my usual two aspirins before going to bed, which helps a lot."
"There's a real art to not getting a hangover," Van Duyne added.
A web designer for Altered Images, the 28-year-old Van Duyne had spent the evening watching DVDs at the home of friend Kenny Layton. Between 10:30 p.m. and 2 a.m., Van Duyne consumed three-quarters of a jug of Gallo wine he found in Layton's kitchen cabinet. Shortly after 2 a.m., he stumbled seven blocks back to his apartment.
"This happens every time I drink Gallo, especially red," Van Duyne said. "That stuff really gives me a hangover. It probably has something to do with all the sulfites they use."
Though Van Duyne describes himself as a social drinker, coworkers say he frequently arrives at work asking them to "take it easy on [him]" because of a hangover he attributes to everything but excessive drinking.
"My favorite is when he explains that he forgot to follow the 'beer before liquor, never sicker' rule," coworker Thomas Juno said. "Sorry, Matty, but when you're pounding six of each in just over three hours, I don't think it really matters what order you drink them in."
"Last Thursday, we all went out to Pitchers Pub to celebrate landing this huge St. Francis Medical Center account," said Heather Hagerty, 25, a tech writer at Altered Images. "Over the course of the next four hours, Matt drank six Iron Citys, three Cuervo shots, and a Jack and Coke. The next morning at work, he's complaining that he feels woozy because he didn't take his Vitamin B before drinking. I have this alternate theory that he felt woozy because he drank six Iron Citys, three Cuervo shots, and a Jack and Coke."
Even when owning up to drinking excessively, Van Duyne still finds ways to attribute his hungover state to other factors.
"Last year, me and three of my buddies did a whole bottle of mescal on my birthday. We got to the bottom, and I got the worm," Van Duyne said. "That messed me up bad the next day, because the worm absorbs a lot of alcohol. It's almost like a hallucinogen. I ruined my favorite comforter because I puked all over it. Stupid worm."
Longtime friend Pete Sirois, 27, heard a new excuse last Friday night, when he and Van Duyne went drinking at Anchor Inn.
"Matt was doing all these different shots—Stoli, Jack Daniels, Jägermeister—you name it," Sirois said. "He was really wasted. I talked to him the next night, and he was complaining about how he still had a headache, because he 'failed to stay consistent [with his liquors].' I'm like, 'Yeah, if only you'd done vodka shots all night, you would've been fine.'"
"The amazing thing is, he hardly ever uses the same excuse twice," Sirois continued. "One time, it might be 'I stupidly combined champagne with hard lemonade,' and the next, 'I should've known better than to mix liquor with diet soda.' He must devote more time to researching hangovers than he does to his job."
Despite his wicked hangover, Van Duyne plans to spend this evening drinking at a local nightclub.
"I'm still feeling kinda shitty, but I can't miss 2-for-1 apple-martini night at Insomnia," Van Duyne said. "So long as I take two tablespoons of olive oil beforehand, I should be fine."