This is a story about extremely strange eating habits and basically every character you meet is gratuitously cringe worthy. The main character is NOT me, so don't freak out or anything. ~yay~ ~enjoy~
I’m on my toes reaching for a box of pop tarts on the top shelf of my kitchen cupboard. If I stretch a little farther, the very berry-honey bunny goodness will be mine.
My back makes a bit of a cracking sound and a sharp pain shoots up and down the arch. I grimace. I may even be sweating. My head is throbbing and—OH! IF I CAN JUST FLICK THE BOX…
It tumbles out and hits the ground.
My hand shakes as I slide the beautiful icing-covered chunk of heaven out of its silver Mylar wrapping. The lettering on the label is green to remind us that it’s organic. All two hundred and ten empty calories of sugar and starch and saturated fat are—wait for it—naturally derived.
I violently shove the pastry in my mouth. I love the raunchy feeling of something hard and scratchy being lodged in my throat. It hurts so good. I wince when I swallow the mouthful of warm, half-chewed sludge.
I will stop doing this. I mean, it simply isn’t possible for me to continue for the rest of my life.
Okay? I even spoke to my friends about it. I bought a food diary and watched the YouTube videos and everything.
I know, I know. It’s midnight and I’ve already had like, four bowls of cereal, two Greek yogurts, four cereal bars, a bag of popcorn, some instant oatmeal, two bags of cookies and a pop tart. I know that could hypothetically be not the greatest thing in the world considering I haven’t started my homework yet and I’ve gained a pound every day for the past few weeks.
But, do you want to know what? This is my last binge and I might as well make the best of it.
Oooh, peanut butter.
I go back to the cupboard and break out the extra-large jar of Skippy’s. I hold it close to my chest as I twist off the cap.
I shove two fingers into the peanut butter and scoop out a sticky ping pong ball-sized portion. I stick it far into my mouth and use every muscle of my body to attempt to swallow the mound of creamy cement.
How about an apple next? Apples are healthy.
I wake up this morning feeling sort of like a mushroom cloud. Or maybe a muddy and bloated ditch filled with steamy, stinky ooze that swallows poor civilians by the dozen.
I slept a whole six hours last night which feels sort of over indulgent—I’ve sacrificed studying for my social studies test. I don’t think one test grade is nearly as important as my overall well-being, though.
I’ll have a balanced breakfast this morning to keep me happy for a while. Maple nut oatmeal and a Greek yogurt will be 330 calories. I’ll take a fish oil supplement which will be fifteen, and then I’ll eat a small lunch, no snack, and a small dinner so I don’t gain any more weight. It seems like an 800 calorie day. I can smell it in the frigid November air.
Okay, so—breakfast is down. I may or may not have had five prunes when I was packing lunch. So, 445 calories, 355 left. Whatever. I have willpower.
For lunch I’ll have two pieces of the thin bread which will be 140 (THANK GOD—last week we only had the thick kind with a whopping 100 calories per piece.) If I cut the crust off, it’ll be 120. No, 110. No, 130. Okay—130. If I’m off, who cares? I’ll just end up eating less. I spread one tablespoon—30 calories—of hummus. Uh, I think that’s all I’ll need. I mean, my mother still expects me to eat dinner. So, lunch: 160. 195 to go.
□ □ □
I’m just a sweaty zombie with greasy hair and dandruff on my sweater until first period.
At 8:30, I’m a sweaty zombie with greasy hair and dandruff on my sweater and a social studies test.
It ends up being a thematic essay instead of the usual thirty multiple choice questions. Imperialism was when the people came from different countries through Ellis Island and worked in factories as scabs, right?
□ □ □
By fifth period Physics, I’ve been through two packs of gum. I’ve got nine pieces in my mouth right now. I hope to God I don’t get called on. Mr. Collins lost me months ago with ‘meeyoo sub kay’ and ‘ehm gee cosign theta.’
“It chooses Kat! Kat?”
Thank you, random name generator. Considering the fact that Collins wrote the program himself on a graphing calculator makes me highly suspicious. I bet it’s not random at all.
He stares at me through thick coke bottle glasses. They have these electric blue frames and his beard is like, twelve different colors. Teachers should not be allowed to dress this eccentrically. It’s distracting.
Seriously Collins, the whole ‘I’M A CHARACTER’ thing won’t score you that manic pixie dream girl adolescent-you had your heart set on. Hey, shredding flannel and smoking hash when you were supposed to be in Geometry didn’t work. It just screwed up your future. Do the alternative teaching methods help you find some sort of closure?
“Kat? I’m waiting.”
Cue the stifled laugh from somewhere across the room.
“The universal gravitational constant! What is it?”
My classmates are all flailing their arms around like crazy. They’re flying out of their seats and making moaning noises and foaming at the mouth.
“Uh. Four pi?”
The class bursts into laughter. Collins screams at them to shut up.
“The inverse tangent of theta?”
Do hyenas cry? These creatures are on the verge of tears.
“Kat. Your reference table.”
“I lost it.”
“No, it’s on your desk.”
“Oh, I forgot.”
My hands shake as I reach for the paper. It’s the very first thing listed on the very first page.
When I open my mouth, a waterfall of hot saliva gushes out and a massive wad of pink gum comes flying.
I run out the door and into the girls’ bathroom.
I don’t feel like eating, so I decide to stay in the last stall for the entire lunch period. I rock back and forth on the toilet seat, hugging my knees close to my chest. Courtney Love is plugged into my ears chanting about some sort of violent incesticide and Santa Claus.
My head is all clouded up with red smoke. I’m clenching my fists.
I want to scream.
I take out my earbuds and make sure there’s no one else in the bathroom. Luckily it’s only me.
I can hear Mr. Collins’ booming voice outside. I vaguely make out something about ‘had so much potential’ and ‘what’s gotten into her.’
□ □ □
Okay, okay, I lied.
I lied when I said I told my friends about my eating thing.
I don’t have friends.
I mean, I guess I have a friend and I did tell him about it.
I suddenly feel a hand tugging on my backpack. “Where were you at lunch?”
“Yeah, I heard, the gum, ew—but, you didn’t skip lunch, did you? Remember what my dad said?”
Ugh. Dillon thinks he knows everything just because his dad is a pediatric psychologist at some clinic on the Upper West Side. I swear—the guy is just slipping Adderall into the handbags of Botox housewives in exchange for a peek of plastic cleavage.
“HELLO?! Kat? Are you there? What do you think you’re going to do when you get home?”
Fun fact: Dillon is clinically overweight.
Fun fact: I am not.
“You know, it’s okay if you want to ignore me. That’s perfectly fine. I know you might feel neglected, having grown up in a single-parent household and all. I know your mom is at work all the time and you may not have felt a real connection because of all of the nannies—“
SHUT UP! SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTHUPSHUTUP
After a minute or two, I realize that I’m lying in a fetal position on the bumpy concrete ground of my school’s courtyard, hysterically sobbing. The school day has come to a close, but afterschool freedom-fury has slowed to a stop—the boys have ended their football game, the couples have taken a brief intermission from their intensive public displays of affection, and basically the whole school has gathered around my trembling body.
I see a couple people mouth a word that looks a little like ‘weak’ or ‘reek’ or ‘feet’ or something like that. They all stare at me, then at each other, smiling with their stupid crooked teeth and stupid inflamed gums and stupid food in their braces and stupid stupid stupid. They toss their heads back and their chests heave up and down while laughter bubbles up and out of their mouths. It grabs me by the neck and burns my skin, leaving boils that spew pus and angsty poetry about razor blades.
I’m nothing but a bad aftertaste that you don’t really notice until you do.
I am lemonade without sugar and mold growing on your towel and the chunky salt biting little pricks of sharp sting in your nasty gash. Stay away, complain, scoff, complain, complain, reject. Stick your fingers down your throat and reject.
Eat it all up. Just laugh and make stupidwittystupidwittyreallydisgustinglystupidwitty remarks, but before you absorb the calories, hurl.
Maybe I should start hissing at people and wetting my pants. Maybe I should gargle nail polish remover, swallow, and—whoops!—forget about “family,” “friends,” and the late-night TV that keeps the neighbors grinning.
□ □ □
The next time I open my eyes, I see Dillon’s father standing over me. He’s looking at me with bulging eyes and a furrowed brow.
“Now, from what Dillon has told me, it seems that you’ve been having a tough time lately. I called your mother, but didn’t get a chance to leave a voicemail. That woman is always busy, isn’t she? Never gets the chance to bend over and smell the flowers or even see what’s cooking with her daughter, either, huh? Would you like to talk for a minute or two? Don’t think of me as your friend’s dad, or a doctor, or even a 40-year old man with a notepad. Think of this conversation as one exchanged from friend to friend—just one equal to another. Are you following any hunks on the Instograms?”
I guess the appalled look on my face wasn’t exactly what he was going for, so he was quick to change the topic.
He cleared his throat, “Dilly tells me you enjoy listening to old music. I find it very interesting that a girl your age is into that sort of stuff. He said you like that girl group with—what’s her name again?—oh, yes, Courtney Love, is it? She is not exactly my cup of tea, but let me tell you this—I was a DEAD HEAD! Of course I didn’t waste my time in the smoking shed…”
At that point I tune him out. I close my eyes again.
□ □ □
I’m shaken awake by Dillon. It’s dark outside and it suddenly hits me that I’ve spent the past few hours sleeping on a white couch in my friend’s dad’s study with dirty sneakers on.
I mean, I don’t even have the slightest idea how I got here.
“Your stuff is in the living room.”
You’re not going to invite me to dinner? Whatever.
I pull myself up and rub crusty drool off my cheek. Still half asleep, I shuffle over to the door. Dillon’s mom is cooking and doesn’t seem very happy to see me. She’s glaring at her husband and is all like, “Her again?” He crumbles and stares at the floor. She obviously doesn’t appreciate the whole Girl, Interrupted-thing I’ve got going on.
I shrug it off and storm out the door, slamming it behind me.
When I’m heading home, a skinny man wearing women’s sunglasses sits next to me on the bus and sings in my ear the whole way. I do my best not to acknowledge him.
My mother would tell me that he’s sick and shouldn’t be allowed to roam free among innocent men and women and children that don’t deserve to be alienated by him.
Sick, like Vick’s nose drops and straightjackets.
Sick, like he should be locked up.
People are so squeamish, you know? I mean, don’t you hate it when they only eat the brightest, reddest, sweetest tip of a strawberry and just throw the rest away? I don’t know. It like, really, really bothers me.
Eventually all of those strawberries that have been barely nibbled at are going to pile up and rot, smelling up the whole entire world. The sweet stink will taint every single molecule of air we even dare to breathe and everyone is going to freak out. It’ll be like some superhero movie before the superhero shows up where everything’s on fire, and all of the women are running around with dirty dresses and they’re screaming their heads off, and all of the cars are squished, but nobody blinks an eye due to the magnitude of the mind-numbingly massive stench that is in the process of burning their shaking bodies to a crisp.
If everyone wasn’t so snotty about the strawberries and just embraced the sour and learned to like it, none of this would ever happen.
□ □ □
(I’m)Home(.)(Do I really need more)work(?)
I deserve a day off. I should indulge in a little me-time and get all my crap together. Maybe a bubble bath and a big, round glass of my mother’s red wine will be nice. And a manicure. And Freaks and Geeks. You can never go wrong with Freaks and Geeks.
And, you know, a few…
…refreshments along the way.
Shut up, Nick. Shut up, Lindsey. Shut up, Nick. Shut up, Nick. Shut up, Lindsey. Shut UP, NICK!
I can’t watch this.
█████████████████████████████████████████Peers: fewer white lies to tell, a slightly shorter wait on the lunch line (these few seconds spared each day will add up to multiple hours if you put the whole year in perspective), a better chance of being called on in class, smaller groups (more input—more learning—developing into fuller, more fruitful human beings), decrease of those awful jabs of annoyance/general distaste towards weirdness, et cetera.
Teachers/adults in authority (but mostly teachers): one less paper to grade (again, this will add up to hours and hours of time to indulge in pop culture comfort food—more time to unwind—more patience—more effective teaching—students will have a much more vibrant learning experience and will go on to lead more successful lives…blahblahblah), less cringe-worthy questions asked in class, less awkward eye contact, the classes are generally quieter, etc, etc.
Family (well, my mother, because that’s all there really is): more money for—higher-quality wine, cosmetics, food, clothes, electronics, and assorted tchotchkes; a house to herself; less whining (it really brings her down); a sounder sense of sanity; less pretending to appreciate school plays/concerts/any events having to do with Kat, basically; less disappointment, and lots of other good stuff.
When you look at the big picture, it makes a lot of sense.
□ □ □
I finish my seventh bowl of cereal as my mother barges into the door, screaming at her mom on the phone in German. I’m in the middle the finale episode of Freaks, and I’m getting a little annoyed even though I have the subtitles on.
I get up to go to my room when my mother pauses for a moment.
“Kat? Honey? Come here.”
She takes a few seconds to inspect me, head to toe. I see her eyes slowly moving up and down.
“Kitty, those jeans were a little looser a few months ago.”
I do my best to act surprised and go, “Really? I hadn’t noticed.”
“It’s okay, sweetie.
You know what?” She stares at me intently, trying to think up a solution, “I’ll make us a great salad for dinner tonight.”
“Sure! Do we still have any of that French dressing left?”
“Maybe, but is lemon and vinegar okay, Sugar?”
“Lemon and vinegar sounds great!”
□ □ □
I have made a rational decision. Like I said before, it only makes sense.