“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
This was my personal motto during much of my early 20s as I powered through late nights of partying, studying, more partying, essay writing, a bit more partying, various part-time jobs and, finally, just a wee bit of fun.
These days, I’ve altered the slogan somewhat and use it at the same time each year: “I’ll sleep after Grey Cup. Or when I’m dead, whichever comes first.”
Like many CFL fans, I’m back home after several days in Ottawa for the 2017 Grey Cup. And while I was there ostensibly to work, there is always plenty of revelry built in, which makes for a rather diabolical combination: early-mornings, followed by long days, followed by late nights, followed by another early morning. Repeat. And repeat. After a few days of this – I was in Ottawa for almost a week – it takes a toll on the body and the mind.
Now back home, I’ve entered recovery mode and after nine straight Grey Cups, I think I’ve got it pretty much mastered. So he’s my helpful five-step process on recovering from what sports writer Dick Beddoes once called the Grand National Drunk.
Step 1: Get some sleep.
The earliest I went to bed during this Grey Cup was 1:30 a.m. and the latest was just a bit before 4 a.m. and that, believe it or not, makes me kind of weak-sauce when compared to many other journalists and a large contingent of fans: people go insanely hard, day after day.
The lack of sleep has a compounding effect that turns your body into a shaky wreck by the end of the week. While it’s often possible to check some ZZZZZs on the plane or train ride home – I once took a morning flight home from Edmonton without having slept the night before – a nice 10-hour nap the first night back has a tremendous restorative effect. It usually takes me about three nights of regular sleep to feel semi-normal.
Step 2: Eat real food again.
The famous food aficionado Homer Simpson once said “You don’t make friends with salad,” and this is particularly true of Grey Cup where the food is a gastrointestinal nightmare. It’s not unusual for every single meal to be the product of a restaurant kitchen, fast food joint or, in the case of Ottawa this year, late-night shawarma stand. It is possible to, quite unintentionally, go an entire week without eating something green (no, lettuce on your burger doesn’t count and fries are a technically the product of a legume.)
The key is to ease back into a healthy diet. Eating nothing but fruits and vegetables after a week of junk is likely to put even more stress on an already shocked system. Maybe just add a tomato to the burger to start.
Step 3: Dry out the liver
There is a lot of alcohol consumption at the Grey Cup. There are team parties, private parties, after parties… there is, quite famously, a big Spirit of Edmonton breakfast where they serve mimosas in pitchers along with the pancakes.
Swearing off alcohol after Grey Cup shouldn’t be hard: if you’ve done it right, it will take a considerable amount of time before the urge to engage in copious consumption returns.
Step 4: Check your VISA statement
Remember that round of shots you bought at last call? Me neither. But your credit card does.
Step 5: Go back and look your photos
Sleep-deprived, malnourished, perpetually hungover and broke doesn’t exactly sound like a great time but that’s the Grey Cup aftermath in a nutshell. But a scroll through the pictures on your phone will inevitably provide a reminder as to the fun that was had (and likely fill in some gaps.)
The Grey Cup isn’t a good time, it’s a great time. But there’s a reason it’s only once a year.