Mayim MishegaasMayim Mishegaas

My Purim hangover

I learned a lesson in aging the hard way
By Mayim Bialik     Published on 04/01/2019 at 10:00 AM EDT
DJ Spiess/Flickr

It started innocently enough. It was Purim, the Jewish holiday where we historically party it up and have fun. To celebrate, I went to synagogue with my sons, my ex-husband, and my mom. On Purim, lots of (alcoholic!) drinks are served in synagogue—that’s how much we are encouraged to engage in festive drinking! Responsibly, of course (I was not driving that night).

I nursed a weak scotch for the whole 90 minutes of the service. I didn’t feel drunk, but I definitely felt the warmth of the scotch turn me into a slightly less inhibited version of myself. They don’t call it “Liquid Courage” for nothing.

My sons, who are not used to seeing me drink, (but let’s be honest, I’m not much of a drinker when they’re not watching me either) joked that I was drunk because I was in a good mood (which is apparently rare, ha!), but I promised them I wasn’t.

After services, the boys went home with their dad while I hung out with a couple of my girlfriends. We went to a Purim party at Pico Union Project, a beautiful historic synagogue which has been transformed by Jewish singing celebrity Craig Taubman into a venue for bands, cultural events, and Purim parties.


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Usually, I never go out, especially to a place with loud music, line dancing, and a raffle. But I was feeling brave and ended up having an amazing time. Over the course of the few hours I was at the party I had two Jack and Cokes. Again, I did not feel drunk. I was lucid and coherent and wasn’t experiencing any of the cerebellum-disrupting effects of alcohol (i.e. the inability to walk a straight line). It was a wonderful evening. And I won the raffle, which was super exciting!

That night I slept the way I do when I have a few drinks past the age of 40; that is to say, I got up more than usual, but sometimes that happens for a lot of reasons, so I didn’t think anything of it. “I woke up with a headache like my head against a board,” as the Indigo Girls say in Closer to Fine.

I was far from fine.

My headache was steady and dense. I was exhausted and felt completely depleted of energy. And I was GRUMPY. I was grumpy because the alcohol made me feel grumpy, but I was also grumpy because I should NOT be feeling this hungover from having only a few drinks throughout my night out.

You could say that I’m fairly boring when it comes to drinking. I never really had much alcohol until I was 21 (with a few rare exceptions over the age of 18 in Europe with my parents), and I have never really loved drinking to excess. I’ve never thrown up or blacked out from too much drinking, and the few times I have felt dizzy, I have been very mad at myself. However, it seems that once you hit 40, you just can’t do what you used to. This Purim experience has made it crystal clear to me that whatever small drinking life I had before is over. The days of having more than a few drinks—even over the course of HOURS—is over.

It’s time to focus on knitting, cross stitch, and reading romance novels apparently.

I’m disappointed in the aging process, to be perfectly frank. It’s too soon for this. Grey hair? OK. Eyesight shot to heck? Glasses are cute. Hearing going? Less I have to hear people gossip. But this lightweight reaction to alcohol? I mean, for a hangover like I had, you’d think I drank a bottle of tequila and did shots all night with the Thunder From Down Under guys (I’ve never been to any such show, but I think you get the picture).

And so, next Purim, I will not do what I did this year. I will plan out my old lady night with two drinks over the course of a long evening, and I will stick to the universal beverage of old women everywhere: rosé. Or Manischewitz. Because that stuff is delicious.

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