One of the perks of being so unreasonably beautiful as to be a borderline genetic mutant is an unlimited supply of free drinks.
Not that I would know this from personal experience but during the course of my career, I have known, worked with, occasionally been friends with — but never dated or been romantically entangled with — an assortment of fashion models, and through these associations, I know this to be a fact.
A pretty girl can always get a free drink. An unreasonably beautiful girl can get a lot of free drinks. This is not meant as a judgment, merely as an observation.
But this benefit became a liability when those unreasonably beautiful models showed up for work the next day with a “head on fire and eyes too bloody to see,” as Billy Joel once charmingly put it. Not being anyone’s first rodeo, the ladies had a plan.
That plan usually included a cheeseburger, and preferably a cheeseburger deluxe, from a Greek diner. A combo meal from your favorite fast-food establishment will serve in a pinch but a cheeseburger deluxe from a Greek diner is ideal.
Should you not be familiar with cheeseburger deluxes, allow me to explain their glory. One side of the take-out container, or plate if consumption is to be on premises, is covered by a good-sized hamburger patty cooked to order (medium rare or rare works best as a hangover cure), with cheese (your choice of cheddar, Swiss, Provolone, whatever) melted on top.
The meat sits on one side of a toasted bun and there is usually another slice of cheese on the other side. A generous pile of Iceberg lettuce leaves and tomato slices will fill one of the smaller side portions of the take-out box.
This pile of produce is customarily placed on the burger as it is assembled by the purchaser and is, I believe, what makes this calorie-intense grease bomb palatable to those of the modeling profession. Only a small amount of self-delusion is required to convince oneself that a salad is being consumed.
Let us not forget the huge pile of hot, crinkle-cut fries taking up every available inch of the rest of the take-out container, topped by a solitary, perfect onion ring. And somewhere there will be a half-sour pickle. Maybe on top. Maybe buried underneath. But it will definitely be there.
The miraculous thing about a cheeseburger deluxe is that you can go into a hundred Greek diners and every single one of them will offer a product exactly like all of the others. It is truly amazing that hundreds of independent businesses can offer a continuity of product that rivals the national chains.
The other miraculous thing is that it will cure a hangover. I learned that from the skinny, under-fed beauties at work. Can’t say if it is the sheer magnitude of grease that acts as an alcohol-absorbing stomach sponge, or if it’s the blood dripping from the ground beef that brings relief, or maybe the pickle has magical, restorative powers. But you will feel better. And quickly. The girls always did. And so did I.
It’s not even necessary to heave it back up later after it has worked its magic. I certainly never did, though I did occasionally detect some unpleasant heaving noises coming from the ladies room after a morning-after cheeseburger breakfast.
But so many things have changed in the last decade or so. I have to wonder if cheeseburger deluxes are still the hangover cure of choice for the trendier-than-thou set. I no longer have any contact with that group but somehow doubt if greasy cheeseburgers are a thing any more.
The huge increase in the number of vegetarians and vegans in the younger generation would make it unlikely. It would be very hard to rationalize a big, dripping hunk of half-raw meat, two thick slices of cheese and an avalanche of French fries, most likely deep-fried in beef tallow, as being appropriate to non-consumers of animal products.
The young fashionistas of today are foregoing the restorative magic of the cheeseburger deluxe and I’ve heard it’s been replaced by coconut water. I try to keep an open mind, but I have to tell you, I just don’t get this whole coconut thing.
I find their magic underwhelming. When it started with coconut oil, I tried that and it’s nice where a light coconut-y smell is appropriate, like for popcorn or in fudge or brownies. Most sweets really. But a coconut flavored grilled cheese is just weird.
And now they’re starting with the water which supposedly has more potassium than a banana and a whole alphabet of vitamins, so one would think it’s efficacy as a hangover helper would be considerable, but one would be wrong.
A few weeks ago, after getting together with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in a year or so, and enjoying ourselves immensely over what turned out the next morning to be one bottle of wine too many, I broke out the coconut water, and started throwing it down the hatch.
Nothing. Turns out, the only thing coconut water is good for is to wash down a few Advil.
If I ever find myself in the same unfortunate predicament again, I’m going straight for the grease and the raw meat. And the magic pickle. Though it’s awfully hard to find a half-sour in this neck of the woods.
Reach Bill at 336-415-4699.