WORCESTER, Mass. It’s Monday, which means 28-year-old Todd Zucker is feeling the savage effects of a “weekend” drinking binge that began last Wednesday night and continued until a televised baseball game ended in the early morning hours of what technically counts as his workweek. “I’ve got a muddy tongue, and my lids are stuck to my eyeballs, and I just want to crawl back into bed,” he says as he gulps a glass of water from a bubbler he leans against a little too heavily, causing him to lose his balance and almost topple over onto the floor.
But there to catch him is what he calls an “Angel of Mercy”; Sister Mary Joseph Schlitz, a member of the Little Sisters of the Frosted Mug, a religious order whose members take on as their life’s work the relief of those with debilitating hangovers.
“She’s been a godsend,” Zucker says as he is led back to his cubicle and helped into a swivel chair, from which he will pretend to work for the rest of the day before retiring early tonight after a single “hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-you” drink. “We’ve added the Little Sisters to the array of services available through our health plans, which already included such ‘far-out’ treatments as acupuncture, chiropractic, and vaccination,” says Marianne Woodbury-Wilson, director of human resources at Modern Moosehead Indemnity, the insurance company where he works as a claims adjuster, adjusting claims. “The cost of a totally incompetent employee is too high,” she says. “We need our people to be marginally competent at all times.”
The order is headquartered in this gritty industrial city long considered the Hangover Cure Capital of the World because Moxie, a bitter-tasting soft drink with quasi-medicinal properties that include relief from hangover symptoms, is bottled here. “It’s the gentian root that makes the difference,” says Director of Marketing Harry Wilbur of the secret ingredient hailed by New Yorker writer E.B. White as the “path to the good life.” “God knows it isn’t the flavor,” he adds as he screws up his mouth after taking a sip.
The Patron Saint of Drunks is St. Arnold of Soissons, who saved the people of Oudenberg, Belgium from the Bubonic Plague by persuading them to drink beer instead of water. Followers of St. Arnold celebrate him on his Feast Day, which is every Friday and Saturday during months that have a vowel in them.