Have you ever been unable to concentrate in class or during a meeting because you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to eat for lunch? Perhaps you’ve packed yourself a nice sandwich and it’s dancing around your brain, reminding you of the pleasure that’s to come? Have you ever just wanted everyone around you to remain perfectly silent so you could decide if you wanted soup or salad by imagining how it would feel to eat each one so that you can make the best, most informed choice? Well, you’re not alone; I too suffer from debilitating food fantasies.
I have two classes that take place from 11-1, and I never seem to be able to eat a satisfying enough breakfast to keep the food fantasies at bay. The fantasies normally start around noon, triggered by something mundane. All it takes is for someone to say, “That was a cheesy poem,” or even just, “Good point”, and I’m off day-dreaming about what I have in my kitchen or if I want to stop at the small grocery store on campus to pick something else up. Literally any word can serve as a launching point for the fantasies. Oh, “cheesy”, you say? I have some spicy Mexican cheese in my fridge…oh man, what if I stop and pick up some bread and make a sandwich. What if I slather some butter on that sandwich, throw it on the frying pan and turn that baby into a freakin’ grilled cheese. Dear God, is it getting hot in here? Oh, “good point”, you say? You know what’s good? Soup. I’ve got a whole container of vegetable barley soup with my name on it, just waiting for me to eat it. Oh, man, I have those crackers in my room still. Yeah, you know the ones, the ones you bought to eat with that soft cheese you picked up at the store the other day. Wait. You still have that soft cheese. So you could have soup, crackers, and soft cheese. It’s like you won the lottery, only in your mouth.
Figure 1 depicts what goes on in my brain on a typical day.
At restaurants, I frequently get frustrated with people when they try to talk to me, and all I want to do is figure out what to order. No it’s not that easy. I need to visualize. I need to feel the ravioli in my mouth, the calzone, the salmon, whatever. I need to know it’s right. And when it’s right, I just know. Because I understand it’s impolite to tell someone to fuck off when they’re trying to talk to me, I try to nod politely and listen even though my mind is drifting to a faraway land where it’s just me and the food. When I’m not in public, sometimes I close my eyes, picture myself in a field with the food of choice, Eternal Flame playing in the background as the food and I stroll to a secluded part of the park, set up a picnic blanket, and I mercilessly devour it.
“Stop, please,” the food screams as I sink my teeth into it, “I have a wife and child and so many unfulfilled dreams! I was going to open a Sylvan Learning Center!” I replay the fantasy over and over but with a different food each time. It could be a sandwich, sushi, a donut, chicken tikka masala, pasta, anything. It doesn’t matter. Missy Elliot once eloquently proclaimed that she likes all kinds of boys, “Black, white, Puerto Rican, Chinese boys,” then added, “Why-Thai,-Thai-o-toy-o-Thai-Thai.” Inspiring words, Missy, thank you. That is exactly how I feel about food. Except for me it goes, “Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Italian food. Also-Thai-Korean-Turkish-Vietnamese-o-Thai-Thai.” Despite the solace I’ve found at finding some understanding and acceptance through Missy Elliot’s music, questionably applicable though the lyrics may be, my struggles with food fantasies have been hard. Some have called me an addict, others have not. There’s a lot of debate surrounding this sensitive subject. Many have simply laughed the problem away as, “So Ariel”, or “Not a real problem.” But think about this: people who are starving in Africa also have food fantasies, probably.
Food fantasies are nothing to roll your eyes at, or sneeze at (though why anyone would sneeze at something is beyond me, because that sounds gross and unsanitary and incredibly ineffective at demonstrating your feelings). I can’t function like a normal human when the fantasies strike, and I already have enough troubling functioning as it is. That’s why I’ve started a research campaign, led by myself, to figure out how to put an end to these food fantasies for good. With your help and dedication, one day I may find a cure and be able to help others like myself who suffer from crippling fantasies about food at inappropriate times like when you’re hungry or bored or someone says, “cheese” in any context. Donations are welcome and can even be made in the form of Amazon gift cards. Yes, any little bit helps. Myself, as well as the many African children who suffer from food fantasies, will thank you.