I learned pretty early that I could not drink alcohol without having a violent reaction - I can't even use mouthwash or cough syrup that contains alcohol. So I've never had a hangover. As a result, I could sympathize with co-workers who came in late looking like a truck ran over them, but I couldn't really empathize with them, having never experienced the joys of a hangover.
After reading Evan Rail's essay "In Praise of Hangovers," I have a better notion of what a hangover is and how it affects the sufferer. I'm not sure that I would have been curious enough to spend an hour reading an essay about hangovers, but a few months ago, I read and enjoyed another of the author's essays, "Why Beer Matters," which sold me on his ability to write a fascinating article about a subject I had little interest in.
About the title: You wouldn't think there would be anything about a hangover that's praiseworthy, but the author believes that hangovers do have some redeeming qualities. For one thing, having a hangover greatly simplifies your life, reducing everything to one question - is it essential for your survival, or is it unnecessary. (Time-consuming activities like Facebook and Twitter suddenly don't seem so important.)
To balance the "benefits" of a hangover, the headache, nausea, and other symptoms, plus the guilt and remorse that usually follow a hangover, usually ensure that drinking to excess won't be repeated too often!
What made "In Praise of Hangovers" so readable were the little tidbits, such as the fact that the word "hangover" only dates back about a hundred years. Also, the severity of hangovers depends on what type of booze was consumed, due to some nasty substances called "congeners" that are created during fermentation.
The essay concludes with some practical advice on hangover cures - what helps and what doesn't (for example: take aspirin or ibuprofen, not acetaminophen).
Overall, a very interesting, well written essay about a topic that should interest many people - even teetotalers.