We commonly think of hangovers as the next-day result of too much alcohol. We overdo it the night before, and the following morning we pay. We develop flu-like symptoms. We get a headache; our joints hurt; it’s an unpleasant thing to stare too long at the light, which seems all too inclined to stare back—hard. Whatever optimism we might have stored away in the vault of our psyche seems to have disappeared. We’re down, sorry, sad, and grim. We feel as if we have succeeded in poisoning ourselves—and the word is that we have. The word toxic hides in the middle of intoxication, like a rat in gift box. We’ve infected our bodies with toxins, and at first we got a happy ride. Some scientists speculate that the euphoria induced by drinking may come from the way alcohol summons forth energies to fight against the possibility that we’ve been poisoned. Being drunk, or even tipsy, thus understood, is elation as the defenders come roaring into the breach like a wave of charging knights. Banners flap, armor clangs, the hautboys sound in the air.
But then comes the morning, and it is time to pay. We arrive at the downside of the event. As high as we have mounted in delight, as the poet puts it, in dejection do we sink as low. That really does seem to be the case. The higher we’ve flown under the influence, the more down and dirty is the experience of the morning after.
Scrolling through Instagram in bed a few months ago, I saw a picture of my friend Anthony*. Before my brain processed who I was looking at, I felt a shock up and down my spine. Anthony has been dead for almost six years. For a moment, he was alive again, posting on Instagram.
Though we met when we were 14 and remained friends through college and our 20s up until the day of his death at 27, I have very few photos of myself with Anthony. I have a small copy of his high school yearbook picture, which had similarly affected me when it slipped out of the pages of an old album into my lap late last year. On the back he wrote, “Dear Aimee, You’re special. Love, Bill Cosby.” We didn’t know then.
No one knows what’s in the future, but I remember that as a teenager I was in a rush to find out, and brimming with the sense that things were going to start really cooking any second. Adults are often nostalgic for this feeling, but I think it’s just because they want to shake off that burden of knowing. The older you get the more you know about how people’s stories unfold and, sometimes, where they abruptly end.
Analyzing the seedy underbelly of seemingly innocent norms has been a mainstay throughout Lynch's career—perhaps most on the nose in the opening of Blue Velvet, when he bypasses the pristine white picket fence for a close-up of the savage ants tangling in the grass below. It's not surprising, then, that throughout his career, Lynch has mined nightmare fuel from the most benign horror in American life: the automobile.
But to turn to Austen's novels to savor her much-paraded relationship with tea is to set oneself up for disappointment. Tea is mentioned frequently but never fully. The sampling of lines below, variations of which occur throughout her six novels, illustrates the brisk indifference with which Austen treats tea.
But once you boil away the horror, these are stories about middle-class women imprisoned by the domestic in some way or another. Hunt's female characters are full of deep trenches that overflow with sorrow and rage. They are safe and suburban and utterly, profoundly alone — abandoned to their griefs, their desires, their particular understanding of the world.