Yes­ter­day I slept late. Late even for me. So I ate a late, light break­fast and made it through most of the after­noon with­out think­ing about food. By sup­per­time I was hun­gry. I could feel the empti­ness of my stom­ach. I was remind­ed of the first time in my life that I felt hunger.

I was 21 years old.

I had stayed at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty in Bloom­ing­ton for the sum­mer to take a cou­ple of class­es. I believe the dorms were all closed for the sum­mer so I sub­let a trail­er and spent what amount­ed to a most­ly mis­er­able sum­mer. I took a cou­ple of class­es, but I did not get a job so I was depen­dent on mon­ey from home.

I should point out that the U.S. Post Office rou­tine­ly scanned the mail from my par­ents to me. If the scan revealed a check to be in the enve­lope, then the let­ter was shelved for a few days before deliv­ery. When no check was present, the let­ter arrived in my mail box the day after it was mailed. I know this makes me sound like a con­spir­a­cy nut (which I’m not despite my belief that Oswald did not act alone) and a bit para­noid (but when every­one is out to get you, you won’t care what you sound like either).

Any­ways, checks always seemed to take awhile. Added to that was the prob­lem that I spent my mon­ey poor­ly. I blew it on, gulp, com­ic books and Coca-Cola. There, I’ve admit­ted it. Sad but true. I have box­es of com­ic books in the garage to prove it. Don’t wor­ry, I already gave the few that had any val­ue to my son.

Any­ways, I was dim­ly aware that I man­aged my mon­ey poor­ly, so I tried to delay ask­ing for mon­ey as long as pos­si­ble. At one point that sum­mer, I went though my mon­ey quick­er than usu­al and so I delayed the call home longer than usu­al. And just to keep the roll going the Post Office shelved the let­ter longer than usual.

I ran out of food.

If you’ve read this far, it is prob­a­bly not a sur­prise to you that I grew up in a rea­son­ably well to do house­hold and that my exis­tence had been some­what pam­pered (in spite of the part time job through­out high school) up to that point. As a result, I had no clue that I could have found some one will­ing to feed me (at least, I assume that is true).

The only edi­ble thing left in the trail­er was Cool Whip. I ate that.

I was begin­ning to feel a bit weak and I dreamed of stacks of pan­cakes, of which I am not all that fond.

And I thought about how I had nev­er expe­ri­enced hunger before. Sure, I had used the word, but only in the sense that it seemed every­one used the word: it’s been three or four hours since I ate so it is time to eat so I am hun­gry. That was all the word meant to me, that it was time to eat.

After a few days, the check arrived and I still had the strength to buy gro­ceries. For some rea­son, the urge to eat pan­cakes had passed, so I spared myself that.

And despite yes­ter­day, I have nev­er felt true hunger since.

Knock on wood. (I always hit my knuck­les on my head with that phrase since one can nev­er be sure of the com­po­si­tion of objects that once upon a time were reli­ably wood­en. I do not doubt the wood­en­ness of my head).

3 thoughts on “Hunger”

  1. I always won­dered if my abil­i­ty to eat a bowl of Cool Whip — even if a more suit­able snack, like ice cream, was avail­able — was some­how a genet­ic thing. While there isn’t enough said above about how much you enjoyed the Cool Whip, I’ll still place the blame on you for that one (much like my love of Coca-Cola, Star Trek, com­put­ers, parks, and so on).

    I still have the com­ic books men­tioned, too. Safe­ly stored away in a file cab­i­net at Mom’s. I’m read­ing through the “Watch­men” graph­ic nov­el right now. Good stuff; I think you’d like it.

    More to the top­ic at hand, though… How much time passed between run­ning out of food and eat­ing Cool Whip? And between eat­ing Cool Whip and becom­ing notice­ably weak­ened and dream­ing of pan­cakes (which I too am not a huge fan of… I like the syrup far more than the pan­cakes themselves)?

  2. Sor­ry, but there’s a rea­son the only thing left was Cool Whip. Maybe I should also men­tion that the only rea­son there was Cool Whip in the first place is that the guy I sub­let the trail­er from left it behind.

    I don’t remem­ber the time frames all that well (because I was deliri­ous?). I think I went with­out food (but not with­out Cool Whip) for about three days.

    I would NEVER eat Cool Whip instead of ice cream. That’s just sick.


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