Friday, July 2, 2010

"Take the Time to Volunteer"

By Cindy Chapman

Have you ever noticed that whatever we have in life, we frequently complain that we don’t have enough of it?

It happened to me recently. My husband and I settled in for a leisurely Friday evening and decided to order a pizza to be delivered for dinner.

I’m usually pretty good about staying away from fattening food but I figured I deserved a treat at the end of a long week. Besides, my husband tells me that pizza really is the perfect food because it includes meat (slices of fatty pepperoni), milk (that would be the double cheese), grain (crust), and vegetables (take your pick: mushrooms, black olives, or Roma tomatoes).

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed that first piece. But, guess what, it wasn’t enough. Before long, I ate a second piece. And the next thing you know a third piece was on my plate. Within seconds my plate was empty; the slice was sitting comfortably in my still-hungry stomach. My husband encouraged me to eat the two remaining pieces and I inhaled them in three massive bites. My stomach growled, anxious for more. I peeled the coagulated cheese from the pizza box and crammed it down my throat while I walked to the pantry. In it I found a bottle of corn syrup, a jar of cinnamon, and two pounds of whole-wheat flour. I stuck a funnel between my lips and poured everything down.

I paused to consider how privileged we are in this society. To have these delicious ingredients on hand and ready to go at any time is truly great, but isn’t it more satisfying to give back to others who aren’t so fortunate? I held that thought when my stomach growled again, craving more. Immediately I lunged for the pizza box. The cardboard was wet and salty with grease and smelled like a steamship overcrowded with immigrants. I ripped it into a dozen strips and wolfed them all down, licking the tangy oil from my fingertips.

My husband returned from the restroom and watched as I broke apart the kitchen table, coated each leg in barbecue sauce, and ate them. “What on earth has gotten into you?” he said.

I explained to him how sometimes when we have something we frequently complain that we don’t have enough of it. In my case, the pizza did not satisfy me, and neither did the rest of the edible and inedible objects I had just consumed. He stared at me and suggested we go to a hospital to get my stomach pumped. Nonsense, I assured him, and then began sawing the tabletop into bite-sized morsels.

My husband tried to restrain me, but my hunger continued to rumble. I managed to get the table cut and preheated the oven to 400 degrees. While it heated, I marinated the table bits in teriyaki sauce while my husband called an ambulance. I was still feeling famished when my husband stared at me with a blank expression and shook his head. He just stood there, silently shaking his head, for several minutes, watching as I seasoned the table. Blood poured from my mouth. I think it was caused by some of the screws from the table legs ripping holes in the walls of my stomach. I was in pain, sure, but my hunger was not yet at bay. My husband knew there was nothing he could do to stop me in my quest for fullness. He seemed surprised, disappointed, and ashamed. In the twenty-one years we have been married, I never noticed this about him, but in that moment, his furrowed brow glistening with sweat, his bulging neck veins swollen and ripe, he also seemed delicious.

When the oven was heated, I made a last-minute decision to put my husband in it. He seemed much more likely to satisfy my hunger than that fibrous, bland tabletop. After three and a half hours of baking, I ate my husband one limb at a time, over the course of six hours.

When I swallowed the final toe, I sighed, rubbed my bulging belly, and finally felt satisfied.

In summary, I suggest taking some time out of your week to volunteer at your local library.

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