[Editor’s note: The following was written in and about a competition that took place in 2013. The author has since shown significant maturation and understands why he should never have taken part in this madness.]
Beginning on the midnight between April 21 and 22, 2013, my next 127 hours will be a test of human will and stupidity, with most people considering it the most difficult 127 hours anyone has ever endured ever. I will be permitted to ingest only Hershey Twizzler Super Nibs, with one daily multi-vitamin and enough water to keep me alive. My friend Rajiv will be completing a similar challenge over the same period, but with Hawkins Cheezies in place of the liquorice. At a recent gathering, I made the mistake of prodding at his claim that he could “eat just Hawkins Cheezies for the rest of my life” (Rajiv, April 2013), and it turned into this. I’d like to admonish those around us who supported this endeavour.
This isn’t too bad. I don’t know what James Franco was even complaining about. The red and pink colours gleaming off the package still have a positive quality in my eyes. But for how long? The honey crueller, once my favorite donut at Tim Horton’s, lost its prime position after I found a leftover one under my bed as a child, which I then microwaved, ate, and vomited. The Nib may soon suffer a similar fate, but I hope that there is enough nutrition somehow infused into the liquorice to help me through this. Let’s see, the ingredients include (in order of appearance) corn syrup, sugar, wheat flour, corn starch, palm oil, salt, and some words I’ve never heard of. Seems balanced enough. One serving, which somebody deemed to be three of the long sticks of Nib, provides me with 1g of protein and 2% of my daily iron intake. And there’s not even one trans fat! I may come out of this healthier than how I entered after all.
Today I awoke, 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.
Exhaustion levels are high, 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.
I stare at my phone, waiting for it to ring, and for it to be Rajiv, who will admit that this madness has to end. 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.
I suppose 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.
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.
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. 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.
Nibbling II: Still Nibblin’
I assume 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.
Almost there. I am listening to Waiting, in my head pseudo-referencing, “Five days?! But I’m hungry now!” while hallucinating a tractor and a line of ducks. 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.
I awoke 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.
Bystanders had been back and forth as to who had an easier time this week, myself included, but I just need to say I never felt like I was competing against Rajiv. It was co-opetition at best. We would ask each other for rule clarification throughout the duration, and we were able to discuss our deteriorations with an outsider status, attempting objectivity.
Final brain processing: low to very low.
Final Nibs sentiment: they’re slightly more disgusting than they were five days ago, but to be honest I wasn’t that big of a fan anyway.
In closing, I would like to say that I learned and gained nothing from this experience, and I recommend that nobody else ever do this ever again.
[Editor’s note: For a fictional account of the author’s post-nibs haze, please move your little clicker arrow thing over here.]