How You Starved Yourself Today
Coffee. Black coffee. Drink as much as possible. All day. Up until you convince one of your friends to come pick you up from your parent’s house that you are now living in again and take you to a bar. See, you’re living at your parent’s house again because you quit your job and moved away from the big(ish) city you occupied with your ex. You convince yourself that she was the reason you left said city and needed a new start. It turns out though, that this new start involved frequenting an overpriced martini bar in the small town five miles away from your parent’s respectable five-acre country home.
This bar you frequented was decent to you. You enjoyed yourself there. See, you enjoyed yourself a little too much at said bar. You skipped dinners at said bar. You would drive in to said bar at six in the evening and stay until close. You drove home drunk a little too much and the other weekend you got a DUI and you’re not allowed to drive. So now you sit up in what was once your room and listen to the entire Radiohead discography on repeat and drink black coffee.
You consume cup after cup. You ignore the lump in your throat but you wonder if it is a reaction from not eating until after 6 p.m. every day. You wonder if the shaking in your hands is from the caffeine or the lack of food in your system. You keep not eating. You convince yourself that you are becoming thinner. See, your ex left you because you were fat. She told you this during sex. She hated the beer gut that was between you two. She loathed it. She had sex with a much thinner boy right after you stopped sleeping together. This started a month-long freefall through meaningless dates and half attempts at having sex with girls until you realized you hadn’t been touched by anyone in over six months. You wonder why it’s been over six months. You feel bitter about it.
You know in the back of your mind that you want to be as thin as you used to be. You know that if you drink nothing but black coffee and whiskey then you will become thin again. Desirable again. You wonder how long this will take. Your hands still shake and you can tell your vision is growing dim. You can’t see the way you used to. See, but you chock that up to starring at a computer or iphone or ipad screen for hours on end in a dimly lit house. You have no idea if this could be the cause or not.
You feel your muscles start to spasm for no reason. When you shit, it’s tarry and black. You look at it and feel nothing. You wonder if you have an ulcer but you know that you’ll never go to a doctor to find out. You’re not interested in the wellness of your body. I mean, you’re purposefully starving yourself. You know this. Your family knows it. They say nothing. You keep walking into the kitchen and making more coffee.
Your teeth turn brown. You feel self conscious about this. You know that when you look in the mirror your receding hairline, your thinning hair, and your brown teeth will be turn-offs to attractive women. You don’t care. You text your friend or she texts you, you don’t remember who began the conversation. You tell her you’re writing a memoir. She says that sounds interesting. She asks you to hang out. She drives up from a city that is 45 minutes away to meet you in the small town five miles from your parent’s house. You are sitting on a park bench in the old downtown area. Your little brother dropped you off.
Your mother shook her head at you as you left their house. She told your brother in a hushed tone “you don’t have to drive his drunk ass around, you know” and you heard it. You sipped your coffee and didn’t care. You looked in the mirror at yourself from the side holding your shirt up to your chin. You do look thinner. Good job, you! Now off to the bar! You are sitting on a cold metal bench. You are shaking and starting to fall in and out of sleep. It’s cold. You don’t feel it. You don’t care.
You wait and your friend finally approaches and sits next to you. She is on the complete opposite side of the bench. She is committed, as she puts it later that night while you are drunkenly crying to her in her boyfriend’s car. She’s just your friend. You tell her you haven’t had anything to eat all day and she scowls at you. You feel proud. You feel okay, really. You feel like you’ve accomplished something. You ask her if she’s hungry. She states that she is. You go to an overpriced Cajun restaurant in an old building that you think used to be a sheriff’s office. You order salmon because that’s healthy, right? You order a bourbon Manhattan. You eat the salad and bread halfheartedly. It has lost its taste because for the last week or so you have diligently only had one meal daily. See, you’re more interested in becoming as drunk as possible as fast as possible because you can’t drive now. You remember why you can’t drive now and you don’t care. It doesn’t matter. Your approaching court date and possible jail time don’t matter.
You feel guilty for ignoring your friend and having this train of thought. You pull up a copy of your latest piece on your iphone and hand it to her. She pours over it and you discuss it with her. You’re eating more slowly now. You know this bill will be over $50. You don’t care. You drink more. She reads more. She tells you that it’s good. You don’t care. You drink more. It doesn’t matter if it’s good. You are on a different mission. You want to be thin and attractive again. You start to wonder if your male pattern baldness is showing especially well this evening. You stare at yourself in the mirror above the bar and wonder who this person is. You eat a little more. You finish the overpriced, undercooked, tiny fillet of salmon and you order a few more manhattans. She isn’t drinking. She never drinks with you. She’s smart. She’s not drinking because she’s driving. She’s smarter than you. She’s more attractive than you. You love her. You tell her this. She’s okay with it. You’re okay with being a friend. You take another drink.
You settle up. $55. You add a $10 tip. The waitress looks concerned. You stumble out of the bar with your friend and migrate two doors down to another bar. This is the same bar pattern you made the night you were arrested. You don’t care. You’re thinner than last week, at least. You walk into said bar with her. It’s packed. Unusually packed. Your aunt and uncle are there. Your aunt tells you that it’s her 25th high school reunion. They buy you another drink. You feel good. You wonder if your aunt thinks your friend is your date. Your aunt chides you for being arrested and getting a DUI. They leave and you forget it even happened. You finish your drink and begin yawning uncontrollably. You are sufficiently drunk at this point. You feel satisfied.
You don’t remember the drive home. You remember crying. You remember feeling helpless but okay with it. You remember feeling guilty that your friend did so much for you. You wonder how much money you spent. You don’t care. You’re thinner now, at least. You walk into your parent’s house and pick up their Yorkie and cradle it in your arms. You tell him that he is a good dog. He is shaking. You are shaking. You go to bed. Tomorrow you will drink more coffee.
A | A | A
It started with a right swipe, a little green heart. Tinder of course.
Though I acknowledge and appreciate the differences in human experiences, and while your heartbreak is (and always will be) uniquely and completely your own, I must urge you to consider that I have been where you are.
With his hat cocked back, body tilted away from his cane, and right forefinger pointing directly at his audience, Joseph Ducreux commands the attention of those viewing his self-portrait.
I was born in 1990; he was born in 1973. I’m 23; he just turned 40.