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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

THE WORD'S WORTH: For Hangover Advice You Cannot Beet This




Last week, when this column was dedicated to the colloquial art of drinking, it was my intention to discuss the effects of drinking as well. But, as it turned out, there are so many ways to drink vodka that I did not have the space to discuss the morning after.


And so, a week later, here it is: the pokhmel'ye, or the hangover.


The topic is a timely one for me, ever since my boyfriend returned late one night from a mal'chishnik, or a stag party. The lot had gone out and, he told me, really ottyanulis', or let their hair down. When you ottyanut'sya, it does not necessarily imply that drinking is involved. Based on the verb ottyagivat', which means to delay or procrastinate, ottyanut'sya simply implies a good time. However, judging from the familiar scent of vodka and the next morning's telltale moaning, I could be certain that drinking played a key role in the previous evening's "procrastination."


"Zdorovo ottyanulis' vchera," I said in response to his morning after suffering: "You really had a good time yesterday."


"Pereborshchili," he replied. "We overdid it."


This was my first exposure to the verb pereborshchit', which puzzled me. What did the ubiquitous Russian beet soup f borshch f have to do with drinking? It was only later I learned that pereborshchit', which literally means "to over borshch," does not refer only to drinking, but to any activity in excess. Muscles aching from yesterday's run? You must have pereborshchil. Has your skin turned a lobster red after a day at the beach? Pereborshchit' applies here too.


One who has a pokhmel'ye has two choices. Either he can suffer, or he can pokhmelit'sya, or drink the hair of the dog that bit him.


One can also dogonyat'sya, which essentially means the same thing. Based on the verb dogonyat' f or to catch up f this act of chasing away a hangover lends a sense of urgency to the matter. Quick! Head to the kitchen for that dogonka, which in this context would mean a quick shot of something alcoholic. Be forewarned, however, that under different circumstances, the word dogonka can also be the Russian equivalent of a shotgun wedding.


The preferred Russian hangover cure is beer, but in a pinch vodka and even flat champagne will do. It is therefore very important for cold beer sales to begin early in the day. I can remember walking to work one morning when I approached a kiosk with a few outdoor tables, around which several men were guzzling their morning brew.


"Ei alkashi! Pochyom tam pivo?" said one man with bloodshot eyes running towards the group:


"Hey alcoholics!" he said, using the colloquial alkash, rather than the more traditional alkogolik to address the drunkards. "How much is the beer there?"