Recently, I went ten days without eating.
Some background: I come from a religious tradition that occasionally encourages fasting, but not in any particular schedule or associated with any particular ritual. Fasting is mentioned in the Bible, therefore it is permissable. I am no stranger to voluntary and intentional starvation.
Fasting comes in many forms. One can simply abstain from some favourite treat, as in Lent, or one can shun comestibles entirely, as in Ramadan. For my purposes, I chose to consume nothing but water. I ingested no calories whatsoever for 240 hours.
My wife, you see, was away visiting her friends and relations in the States.
Typically, while my spouse is present, she generates leftovers, which I feel compelled to eat. I am unsure, exactly, as to the source of this compulsion, except that it somehow involves starving children in Africa in ways I can't quite explain. With her out of the picture, fasting became convenient.
I must mention here that I wasn't fasting for any particular reason, at least not initially. It wasn't a religious thing, I wasn't in mourning, nor did I hate myself or have poor body image. I simply wanted to do it. To be quite honest, I couldn't have told you why.
Now, there are many people who really shouldn't do this. Diabetics, hypoglycemics, the very young or very old, pregnant women... really anyone with any sort of metabolic, gastrointestinal or psychological issues should not fast. I, however, am blessedly free of all of the above. There are many things I do not do especially well, but there are two things I can do: eat, and not eat.
I was careful, of course, to be mindful of my body's condition. I told myself I would cancel the exercise at the first sign of faintness, dizziness, blackouts, or extreme pain. Luckily, I experienced none of the above. What I did experience, physiologically, was as follows:
1) The actual feelings of hunger dissipated on the second day. They were replaced by a mere awareness - not unpleasant, but consistent - of a need for food.
Although I recognize my extreme good fortune in having such a resilient meathusk, I have never been on particularly good terms with my body, nor with corporeality in general. Thus, after a few days, I decided that my fast would be more than a mere whim. No. This was a statement. This was an act of will, mind over matter. I would fast for ten days because I was in control of my body and not vice versa.
I work in a location where I'm constantly seeing TV screens, so I was forever being bombarded with alluring ads for food I couldn't eat, especially American restaurants like Sonic and Denny's that aren't common here in Canada. When I publicly bemoaned this fact, I was quickly corrected; there is, in fact, a Denny's in Canada, indeed, one right on the outskirts of town!
This Denny's became my mission.
I called together a group of my friends and invited them to an outing! We would drink, then show up at Denny's late at night whilst inebriated, as the good Lord intended. I, in particular, would be publicly breaking my fast with a shot of straight gin.
The gin has significance, but it really is its own anecdote. I shall thus indent it, like so.
So you see, gin is, to me, another symbol of my dominance over my own biochemistry.
So, late Sunday evening, with all (or, at least, most) of my friends gathered round, we broke my fast with a shot of gin, followed by a nice weak screwdriver, then all headed out to Denny's, the magical land of bad culinary decisions. By the time we arrived, I was comfortably tipsy and had a tendency to lean, but I wasn't really full-on babbling drunk.
You may have experienced, at a particularly good restaurant, with a particularly good meal, when you're especially hungry, the sensation of a wash of endorphins on the first bite. It's an intense sensation, strong and overwhelming like an orgasm, a burst of flavour that nearly renders you catatonic.
Every bite of solid food I took for the first ten minutes of the meal was like that. It was easily the most intense culinary experience of my life.
Hungry though I was, I took it slow - or, at any rate, I slowed my usual rate of consumption from "human garbage disposal" to "normal". Eventually, my shrunken stomach could take no more, and I had to box up some of my pancakes for later.
I was anticipating failure. I thought I might have an adverse reaction to consuming alcohol on a truly empty stomach, or that I'd overeat and vomit there in the diner, but no such tragedy occurred. In fact, the next morning, I was up on time and able to go to work with absolutely no ill effects.
My name is Mason "Tailsteak" Williams, and I am a goddamn tank.