Blackout Investigation

It’s morning.  The good news: you’re in your own bed.  The bad news: you’re wearing the same outfit you wore last night, including the shoes.  Your bedroom is trashed.  It looks like a hurricane and the Tasmanian devil just had sex in your room.  But worst of all, you can’t remember a thing.

You mentally scramble trying to piece together the images of the previous night.  It’s hard because your head is throbbing.  Zeus himself would fear this hangover.  Slowly the images start to materialize.  You remember karaoke.  You remember body shots.  You remember vandalizing a tree.  Next to your pillow you find your phone.  “OMG, was I drunk dialing last night?”  Check the call log.  The last call was at 4:35 am.  Shit.    Fear and regret starts to set in.  “What the hell did I do last night?   Why do I feel like everyone hates me?   That’s because everyone does hate me!  Whose friggin keys are in my pocket?”  These questions and self-criticisms will often lead to Post Alcohol Blues (P.A.B.s) and are likely to increase hangover symptoms three fold, so beware.

This scenario is known as a blackout.  Last night you drank much more than humanly possible and you probably started acting like an asshole.  During episodes of severe asshole behavior, the brain’s natural reaction is to create a mental blackout so that tomorrow you don’t remember what you’ve done and become depressed.  However, curiosity killed the cat, and this is no exception.  Part of you is actually afraid to find out what happened last night but the curiosity will overwhelm you.  You must now go into blackout investigation mode.  The truth must be revealed.

Step one: Check your pockets or your purse for receipts.  This will let you know where you went and when.
Step two: Call a friend.  Friends are non-judgmental, support peers that are likely in the same loser category as yourself.  They’ve been there before so hopefully they won’t make fun of your blackout.

To illustrate a hypothetical blackout investigation operation, we’ll simulate a fictional conversation.  Meet Keri.  Last night, Keri and her coworker Tracy went to a company party.  Keri blacked out and needs the 411 stat.

Tracy:  Hello?
Keri:  Hey, Trace.  How are you feeling today?  (Keri immediately puts the attention on Tracy, hoping that she’ll be hungover as well.)
Tracy:  Not too bad.  I went to an amazing yoga class this morning.  (Bad sign.  Looks like Keri was the only asshole last night.)
Keri:  I’m impressed you made it.  Last night was crazzzzy.
Tracy:  Tell me about it.  I can’t believe you danced on the bar.  Have you talked to Troy? (First off, they were at a company party.  Secondly, who the hell is Troy?)
Keri:  Which Troy?
Tracy:  Ummmm.  That random you went home with.


This is a psychologically critical point in the conversation.  Keri could continue on with this verbal assault and find out the real truth about what happened the night before.  Or she can bail out.  Enough is enough, right?  If you didn’t hear about it and you don’t remember it yourself, then it never happened.  This rule is also known as the “blackout card.”

The Blackout Card

the blackout card

In high school, you pretty much get an unlimited supply of blackout cards.  In fact, the ultimate drinking goal in high school is to blackout.  You get a free pass to do whatever you want and not be socially murdered.  Go ahead, you’re drunk, it’s ok to hook up with the goth from honors history.  Experienced drinkers on the other hand can only play the blackout card maybe once or twice a year.  Play it too much and all of your friends will soon start calling you “the partier of the group”… which is also known as “hoe-bag” behind your back.

Let’s get back to Keri.  In this hypothetical conversation, Keri decides to pull the blackout card.  Let’s see how it’s played by a true professional…

Keri: I gotta go.  <click>

Keri made the right move.  She assessed her situation carefully, realized that she was going to have the worst case of P.A.B.’s she’s ever had in her life, and cut her losses in their tracks.  Now its time for mental damage control.  Keri will spend the rest of her day doing moderately productive things that alcoholics would never do so that she doesn’t feel like an alcoholic herself.  For example: shower, eat a smoothie, go to the gym and sit on an exercise bike, hide from her friends, and then cry herself to sleep.

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