There’s nothing like a good bender to right what’s wrong, to eradicate the trivial annoyances that mangle your response to the world. Come on, we all feel it. Those comments and actions that normally wouldn’t bother us, but in the moment make us want to snip the speaker’s Achilles tendon with pruning shears and watch satisfactorily as he flail at our feet. Alas, unfortunately in our litigious society we must focus our change efforts within. As such I propose the bender—that three-day vacation from reality that the truly self-indulgent permit themselves and the chemically-dependent cannot avoid.

But what is so beneficial about a self-destructive binge from which you wake up with nothing but a pocketful of receipts and an anxiety hangover that causes you to pace uncontrollably in your living room as you make the critical decision of whether to brush your teeth or make coffee first? Benders are an assured attitude reset button.

Day 1: No limits exist. Why should there be? You have two days to recover. Whether you start at lunch or happy hour, the eventual buzz is a complete release, a high-energy intoxication where you’re likely to talk to every person in the bar whether they like it or not. Don’t worry about with whom you interact or what you say—the record button is broken; you are in play only mode. Besides, you won’t remember in three days anyway.

Day 2: You wake at 8 AM with a headache the size of your mounting credit card debt, take two Tylenol, and return to bed hoping in three hours you’ll rouse sans pounding. Restlessness settles in by eleven and although you feel better, you’re not in much shape to do anything but drink. You officially begin the day at your local spot with a Bloody Mary, a White Russian, or a Greyhound (Mimosas and Bellinis are for Day 3). After a deep-fried lunch, your mission becomes recruiting people for afternoon beers and then evening martinis to get you to the Red Bull and Vodkas that will propel you until four in the morning.

Day 3: First action is a mobile phone check to ensure you didn’t make any drunken calls but also for a clue as to what time you got home. The early stages of self-loathing begin. Spending the day at home is not an option. Hopefully you still have cash in your pocket. If not, DUH-na-na-NUH-na-NA, CHARGE! With some luck or proper planning, an afternoon sporting event will be broadcasted to provide camouflage and distract you from yourself. The best option is to return to your local tavern to capitalize (in free drinks) on the badinage you regaled the bartender with yesterday afternoon. This is also when the ethereal champagne-based cocktails that you usually deride others for drinking may be just the effervescent lift you need.

As day turns to night, despite your openness to all spirits, intoxication is elusive. Periods of mellowness are separated by flashes of surliness. Before you begin starting sentences with MF-er, call in reinforcements. Invite a friend to meet you at home to drink some wine or watch a movie. You’ll most likely pass out within an hour but do whatever it takes to get yourself out of the bar. Whether you leave at eight in the evening or four in the morning, you’ve already accomplished your mission. If you stay out, you only spend more money and run the risk of getting yourself banned from your local hang by dropping your pants in the bar.

The Day After: Despite your exhaustion, you wake at four in the morning compiling reasons that answer the question, “Why am I such a jackass?”. Although calling off work is tempting, you know you couldn’t stand to be by yourself all day. Remember, a sense of accomplishment for powering through the workday without jeopardizing your career is the first crucial building block in reconstructing your debased self esteem.

That evening you have no desire to drink or be in a bar, but you’re not ready to be alone either. You seek comfort in public venues such as grocery stores and diners (places you wanted to vaporize three days ago). While nursing yourself, you notice a tolerance toward others. Small talk soothes you; you return phone calls you’ve been avoiding for days. The malicious thoughts have been expelled; the mask of hostility, removed. You are ready to deal with the world again.

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