It is traditional that at this time of year I share with you my list of expert hangover cures.
Actually, I have no sympathy for people who awake with crushing hangovers. A hangover is God's way of telling you that you are still alive.
But I know you expect aid and comfort from your daily newspaper, and so I will help you once again.
* Dr. Philip Thorek, a surgeon with an interest in nutrition and drinking: "Boy, alcohol really knocks hell out of your liver. And the liver is a marvelous organ. But what do we do to it? We go out and kill off a fifth and turn into bibulous slobs.
"The only real cure for a hangover is what I call the Tincture of Time. You have to wait hours and hours for your body to metabolize and destroy the alcohol. And it is not just the alcohol, but the impurities. The fusel oils! The congeners! The aldehydes!
"A hangover is a form of poisoning. There is no doubt about this. Now eating fatty foods, bread or cheese will help absorb some of the alcohol. But this doesn't mean you can go and drink more. That's crazy. Moderation, moderation. This is what we must learn.
"A glass of wine is a good tranquilizer. But you must remember temperance. Not abstinence, but temperance. But what do we do? We go out and drink triple martinis, wake up with a terrible hangover and blame the olives!"
* Roberto Suro, correspondent for the New York Times: "Here is what they do in South America. One takes the rawest of fish. The fish is then soaked in lemon and raw onions. Hot sauce is added. The fish is then soaked for two days. No less. This is eaten with popcorn and beer. Yes, they have popcorn in South America.
"This cure is known as tratamiento de choque . In North America you would know it as 'the shock treatment.'
"There is also a ritual to be followed. We do this every New Year's at my mother's. As the clock gongs midnight, a grape must be eaten upon each gong. Of course, with digital clocks with no gongs, this becomes difficult. In that case, just eat 12 grapes quickly.
"Then a raw egg is cracked into a glass of water. One carefully watches the shape of the egg white. From this, the future may be predicted."
* The Guilt Cure: Look in the mirror and read this in the voice of your spouse: "You slob. You absolute pig. Look at yourself. I can't stand the sight of you. You do this every year. I hope you're pleased with yourself. You look awful. If you ever do this again, I'm throwing you out of this house. You make me sick."
* The Traditional Cure: Chicken soup cures anything. You can drink it. You can soak your head in it. You can wash your face with it. You can take the spots out of your tie with it. You can even mix it with white wine and soda and make a chicken spritzer. Even if it doesn't help your hangover, it will remind you of your mother.
* Lord Byron's Cure:
"Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter
Sermons and soda water the day after."
* Another medical cure: Drinking causes dehydration and the contraction of the blood vessels. To cure this, drink water or fruit juices and take aspirin. Another shot of booze might also swell the blood vessels and relieve the pain, but that just starts the whole thing over again.
* Zay Smith, former bartender of the Mirage Tavern: "People would come into the tavern in very bad shape and ask me for something to stop the pain. The only thing I knew about was Worcestershire sauce--no, I don't know how to spell it, you'll have to look it up--on a lemon wedge.
"You just close your eyes and bite the lemon wedge. It helps if you are standing up while doing this.
"Actually, this is not a cure for hangovers. It is a cure for hiccups. But these guys were so drunk, they didn't know the difference anyway. I'd ask them if they felt better and they'd say: 'Huh? Where am I?'
"So I guess it works."