Surprisingly, I don’t feel all that hungry.
However, I won’t let that get in the way of feeling sorry for myself.
Here I am, one day into The Great Weight Slash Seven Day Fast Fest of 2010, when the news comes in. The project manager has bought us all lunch! How very nice. I keep my head down at my desk, looking all the more conspicuous for my attempt to be otherwise. Conspicuous in my lack of enjoyment of the unbelievable largess bestowed on us by the wonderfully benign and loving project manager. Live life large! Look, I have provided pizza!
The seventh person to ask me, was the benefactor himself. Why I was not shoveling the thin, soggy cardboard-masquerading-as-carbohydrate swimming in high-trans-fatty acid grease with an occasional sliver of pepperoni poking out of the sea of industrial cheese and bomb-shelter tomato sauce like flotsam on the surface of a culinary nuclear holocaust, into my pie hole? Clearly his facial features, normally modulated and defined by caffeine and relentless customer abuse, were articulated by the conspicuous lack of enthusiasm on my part for the benevolent bounty he had worked, no, SACRIFICED so hard to bring me. That the team had worked so hard to deserve.
The next day, another day one of The Great Weight Slash Seven Day Fast Fest of 2010, I am home late to find my house apparently empty, the relentless and raucous cacophony that is it’s salient feature displaced by near total silence. Near total, but for the sound of smooth jazz coming from the master bedroom and the smell of scented candles. There is literally nothing more incongruous in my house than smooth jazz. “What is wrong with this picture…” I ask myself. I notice my peckishness as I find myself taking the stairs in time to the Kenny G noise pollution, and I am utterly unprepared for the scene that will unfold. There she is, nude, seductively splayed across the bed, holding a piece of her famous cheesecake. Rather, the cheesecake is enticingly displayed ON her, she is the plate.
“You have to eat your dessert, before you can have your dessert.” She says, playfully and seductively.
Part of the task of becoming (and remaining) a man, is to figure out which battles you should fight, which you should decline, and which you will fight even though you’ve already lost before you step onto the field.
The next day, day fucking one of The Great Weight Slash Seven Day Fast Fest of 2010. I am surprisingly not feeling terribly hungry. I am feeling rather sorry for myself as I hear the sound of celebratory honking of car horns in my driveway. How odd. I open the drapes to see my west-coast brother and his lovely wife, climbing out of an east-coast rental car. He is pulling a large box of live lobsters out of the hatchback, as the rest of the family rushes outside to greet them. I hide in the basement, behind the furnace.
But they find me.
The next day, day fucking goddamn one of The Great Weight Slash Seven Day Fast Fest of 2010. I wake to an empty bed. I find this odd. My wife is a late riser, semi-circadian, the sort of person for whom the word “sunrise” is a decidedly abstract concept. It must exist, after all, but her knowledge of it is entirely anecdotal and second-hand. I find her in the kitchen, plating up a heap of scrambled eggs doing their solemn heartfelt best to impersonate a four-egg omelet. My knees go rubbery. Would I have the huevos to stand firm and hold fast to my fast, here in the fulsome glory of it’s fifth first day?
“Do you know what, I just watched the sun rise!” she said, musically.
Driving to work, I could muster nothing but contempt for myself and for my satisfyingly full tummy. I am a carbo-twink. I am a lipid-slut, a protein whore. Master of myself? Hah. As if. In bondage, rather. I am as much in control of my life as a bit of cork floating on the ocean, convinced that it, and it alone, DECIDES to bob up and down.
I am hit with an epiphany. I am too available. Not only that, I am too bio-available. This will change. Oh, yes, this will change.
I start the next day, Fucking goddamn day fucking ONE of The Great Weight Slash Seven Day Fast Fest of 2010 with a new-found commitment to gastric purity and resolve. Today starts my new life! I tell my wife that I will be at an off-site training session all day. I tell my work that I will not be coming in. I drive to the mountain, a present-day Mohammad in search of his personal divine, with the simple and cherished goal of being un-available. I will find a suitable bit of sharp gravel or thorny bramble to sit on, an ascetic, a monk, a supplicant.
I climb the gentle and forgiving slope. I reach the tree line, that point on the slope where the wind takes the upper hand and the deciduous and coniferous giants give way to the gnarly shrubs. I find myself in an idyllic meadow of tea roses and fruit berries. Fruit berries, late raspberries, full ripe blueberries. Carpets of blueberries, impossibly full and ripe. Obscene in their abundance. The capricious wind has kept the birds at bay, and it is a virgin bounty. I’ve never had a virgin.
Dawn, on Day Fucking day ONE of The Great Weight Slash Seven Day Fast Fest of 2010. I awake not sated of sleep, not fully-recharged in body and mind ready for the day, but from a fully excruciating need, nay, compulsion, to bio-evacuate. Fruit will do that to you. The natural laxative of corpulent fistfuls of ripe fructose hits me, and it hits me hard.
I become Gollum-like. I become a furtive shadow, cowering in corners, behind shrubbery, doing my best to become invisible. Over the next 24 hours I do my level best to develop a full-scale food psychosis. Maybe a disorder would be adequate, but a psychosis would be surer. I wouldn’t come out of the garage. I hide in my car, fetal, knees drawn against my chest. But by the end of the 24 hours, a tiny miracle happens. Day TWO of The Great Weight Slash Seven Day Fast Fest of 2010 was upon me! I spend day two working on homeowner septic tank maintenance, the heady effervescence envelopes me and quells ALL urges to imbibe or pass a crumb or morsel past my quivering lips.
Day Three of The Great Weight Slash Seven Day Fast Fest of 2010 comes in with a huge boost to my morale and resolve…I am seven-tenths of a pound smaller than on the original day one. With this decisive victory under my belt, I face the foodless day with a lightness of being that I hadn’t felt since spanking that home run in little league.
Day Four of The Great Weight Slash Seven Day Fast Fest of 2010 and I am still foodless. However, my bathroom scale says I am one whole pound heavier than the day previous. There are only three possible explanations: A)It WASN’T a dream, and a succubus came in the night and stuffed my mouth with Havarti cheese and spoonfuls of cookie dough; or B) my scale was a fucking lying liar; or C) the modulation of my body mass was bending gravity in my immediate vicinity. In my lightheaded state, the Einsteinian explanation seems more plausible than the succubus.
I took a test, standing in front of the open refrigerator door. Virtue, absent the temptation of sin, is hardly an accomplishment, no? For ten whole minutes I catalog and mock the contents of that refrigerator. I noticed that the milk had some ice in it, so I adjust the temperature dial.
Days Five, Six, and Seven of The Great Weight Slash Seven Day Fast Fest of 2010 are a little bit blurry. But in such a good way. My bathroom scale had regained it’s lost sanity and relevance, and was reporting a dramatic success. I am melting…melting…and I feel like King of the World, and champion of my own life!
I go to bed at the end of Day Seven, feeling like my world is once again my oyster. 10 pounds smaller, ten heavy pounds farther away from middle-age cardiovascular disaster. The last thought as I drift to sleep: Just how wonderful food was going to taste in the morning, what a delicious break-fast it would be! I dreamed epic dreams, full of food sex, full of sex sex, and full of sex food. Mountains of food, valleys of food, rivers of milk and beer. Sugar plumb fairies raping me, then feeding themselves to me.
I awoke. The sun was well up in the east window…I’d overslept. Kitchen, here I come! A confusing amount of silence was emanating from that glorious place for such an hour of a Saturday morning. I found it deserted, but worse, I found it a desert. I opened the fridge…white, smelling of bleach, empty. A growing panic building like a hot coal in my gut, I went to the pantry. Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard was a king’s larder in comparison. The silence was roaring in my ears. My own heartbeat roared in my ears. I felt vertigo, and anger, and confusion. The phone rang.
“Hi hon, we’re at the dump. Yes, I emptied the fridge. It somehow got turned off sometime over the last couple days, and everything was spoiled.”
“The pickles were spoiled?” I asked incredulously. “The mustard and strawberry jam were SPOILED? What about the pantry?” The ambrosia of diet success was curdling into sour yogurt.
Mice. Mice ate my breakfast. Consciousness fading, I opened the refrigerator again, and again, as if somehow this time, there would be food there. I opened the cabinet again, an expression of my blossoming insanity. There was nothing there still, but a mouse trap.
A mouse trap, baited with a stale cracker smeared with peanut butter, untouched and ignored for weeks by the mice feasting on my breakfast.
I have never, before or since, tasted anything quite so divine.