You are on the sandwich board outside a Chinese restaurant from which I buy tasty dan dan noodles and beef rolls. Now I, like you, love food. Unfortunately, due to a lack of necessary organs, I’m unable to eat like I’d like to. There was a time in the past when it was a challenge from a friend that made my eating habits essentially null and void. For 127 hours, I was permitted to ingest only Hershey Twizzler Super Nibs, with one daily multi-vitamin and enough water to keep me alive.
At Hour 0, everything is swimming along finely, and I’m unsure what James Franco was even complaining about. Nine hours later I awake, with only cherry-flavoured candy on my menu. Sure I’m getting hungry. But who wouldn’t⸮ When I have the time in the morning, my breakfast would often rival that of a king on the cusp of being deposed. Today it will be replaced by a meal of one Nib, and I have already begun smelling random foods and could-be-foods in my house. Throughout the rest of the day I eat about 16 Nibs while recognizing that I am actually just going on a fairly groundless hunger strike which may produce cavities.
With Hour 18 comes high levels of exhaustion, and Nibs are now permeating my thoughts. My partner already believed me to be an idiot for following through with this bet, among other understandable reasons, but now she is forced to hear me refer to it in over half of my sentences. While watching a movie, however, my hunger just… disappears. That’s the biggest hurdle, I assume, and once again I expect only smooth sailing to follow.
By the time Hour 34 rolls around, I stare at my phone, waiting for it to ring, and for it to be my friend, who will admit that this madness has to end, as his sole food permitted is a Hawkins Cheezie. But the call doesn’t come. I want him to give in first, but I also know that he won’t. I’m counting on him actually needing energy over the next week, since he’s enduring a medical school rotation, while I could realistically lie in my own bed and just suffer through this alone. That sounds sad. Maybe Nibs cause depression. Maybe depression causes Nibs. Maybe Finkel is Einhorn. Nobody really knows. I enjoy cooking, and I feel like this diet is giving me the chance to try out new techniques. Today, Nibs will be boiled, fried, sauteed, and poached. Tomorrow, the moon.
At Hour 39, I suppose that I agreed to this detox of sorts because I wanted to experience something new. I’m currently at the longest period in my life that I have gone without food, and yes, I am comfortable omitting Nibs from that category. I can’t think straight anymore. I was hoping to extract some creativity from all of this, but I the hunger strike is inhibiting any brain activity. In-nib-itors. Never mind, my brilliance is back. There’s a good chance my body can’t really handle this. I am ready to quit. But I won’t. I have no idea what I’m proving, or to whom. When I realize this, which happens every few minutes, I’m ready to quit again.
When I hit Hour 45, I attend trivia night at a local bar. I’ve made a huge mistake. There is food everywhere. I’m now being referred to as “the Nib guy” by people I do not know. This is bigger than me now. I can’t give it up and float into oblivion. I don’t want to forever be known as “the Nib guy who couldn’t hold up his end of the deal.” This town is too small, so I must persevere. Earlier today, I instinctually picked up a complimentary donut at school, only to throw it wildly at the wall when my mind kicked back in. So here I am, back in the present, sniffing pub food, salivating wildly. I go through the motions of eating nachos, other than actually letting them pass through my mouth hole. Nobody finishes their meals here, and everybody talks about how full they are. I am repeatedly told that it’s my own fault that I’m not eating, but I don’t buy it. They’re just being e-nib-lers. I am falling apart.
Here we are, Hour 57. I now see why people aren’t happy it when they aren’t able to eat. It makes things quite difficult. I am once again breaking my fast with a single Nib. I now loathe Nibs for what they represent. Hershey’s will never call me a true Nib fan now. Instead of craving for these days to be filled with all varieties, I only wish Rajiv had chosen a different food for me. I have a perpetual stomach ache, and the organ in question is making strange modulations that sound like a miniature elderly man is trapped in my gut, searching for a way out. But I did not eat a person, because no person is a Nib. Not really, anyway.
Halfway through, at Hour 63.5, I’m in full yearning for my Sigur Rós moment, as a family of bacon finds me at the seventh hour this Saturday. Until then, I scour my surroundings for distractions. I began meditating today, and also writing club hits about my feeeeeeelings. Mind over matter. On the fence, in a bubble, over the moon, stuck between a rock and a hard place. I am no longer a systematic food addict. I obtain my energy by staring at the sun, like this guy. I am clear now. No longer will my time be wasted thinking about, buying, cooking, cleaning, eating, and digesting food. I am productivity. I am a product of activity.
I’m somehow Still Nibblin’ at Hour 90, and I conclude it isn’t cheating if I eat my own stomach. I am weak, tired, and constantly dizzy. I have written this current sentence upwards of thirty times, deleting each previous string of words over and over. I don’t know what else to do. I’m nibbed out. The lights in my bedroom are leaking water. The thermostats are too, but with them it’s almost expected. The next fridge I open should have a jazz band playing on the shelf above the vegetables. Here is a very incomplete list of some foods and drinks that I like to food and drink: eggs, bacon, potatoes, avocado, apples, beer, meat, strawberries, broccoli, scotch, cashews, cheese, bread. My attention span is being whittled away. However, my body does appear to be working at perfect efficiency. And I just bought a new battery for my computer. Things are looking up.
Hour 117 is an indicator that I’m almost there. I plan my first meal back. I wonder if any prisoners cook their own last meal. I would. I don’t know why Franco couldn’t have cut his arm off ten hours earlier so I could go out tonight. I played tennis today, which in hindsight was a mistake. Conserve calories, I learned but did not heed. I couldn’t eat if I wanted to, I’m convinced. My manual override is not in effect at this point. I need to finish this, for whatever reason.
When the end happens, at Hour 127, I awake at 6:55am, sans alarm clock, of my own volition. I anticipated more of a sense of accomplishment. I lost three pounds, which I couldn’t afford to lose. I expect it to return upon the first non-Nibby bite, but I also have no idea how anything in my body works. I lazily made a meal composed of the ingredients I picked up yesterday: two eggs, onions, mushrooms, peppers, garlic, ginger, broccoli, and cheese; three pieces of bacon, downgraded to turkey bacon because it was already in my fridge; hashbrowns, of the Cavendish variety; toasted bread with avocado; beans, upgraded to beans AND wieners when I saw the Puritan tin at the grocery store; and coffee and orange juice. But I wasn’t hungry. Instead of all of that I ate half of a sad orange.