How to Become Anorexic in 3 Easy Steps
Ingest a Parasite
You’re broken, you silly thing. Can’t you see that?
And you must be tired.
And you simply must need a rest. But you’re not getting the attention you need.
The pump, in your tank, it’s busted. It’s constantly leaking water into the bowl, which slowly drains and drains, so that the bowl is streaked, no matter how many times it gets cleaned.
You must be exhausted, my alabaster friend. You are constantly, constantly running, and it’s not your fault. You have so much to do. You have so much on your plate, but not enough water in your tank. Never enough. Even when you get a refill, it doesn’t last. It doesn’t stay. It drains away, and fifteen minutes later, it has to refill again just so you can function. Just so you can maintain some semblance of toilet-dome.
Some people call you the porcelain throne.
You must feel a little bit like a porcelain pit.
Girl, I feel like you sometimes. Sometimes I feel like I have too much to do, and not enough time to do it. I’ll get one part of my life under control, and it’ll be hard to do, and I’ll need a break, but I’ll turn around and something else has to be done. Pronto. No resting. No waiting. Right away! Get it done! And usually, I’d say I can do it. But sometimes, I feel like it doesn’t matter how much effort I put into my tank. It will always, always be draining, and there is no one out there who can fix my problem. The pump – the will power, the oomph, the werve – it can’t be replaced by any plumber or person.
That is the obvious difference between you and I.
You are an inanimate object.
I happen to be a human being.
And as such, I am the master of my own fate. I get to choose. I get to notice my ever-emptying tank, and I get to do something about it. You? You have to wait until someone notices you. I don’t have to wait to be noticed. I can make changes, noticed or not. I can do what I want, because I am a free agent. It is not the responsibility of man, woman, or child to make me feel better, or worse, or different.
That’s on me.
Good chat, Toilet. I’m sorry you’re so tired. You hang tight.
I’ll call the plumber.
Last night I dreamt of a great house in the middle of a city. Weeping willows flanked iron gates, and vines crawled and choked every wall and window of the place. It was the color of fresh butter, it’s paint cracking and hiding beneath the savagery of the leaves.
Inside the house were rooms and rooms and rooms. One with a miniature city model, and a working train that wound its way tirelessly, endlessly, through the lilliputian streets. One room devoted to beds and sleeping. One room looked as if the wild world had come in to liberate it of walls and windows. This room held flowers – great yellow roses and tulips and daisies. This room was an ornate parlor. Over here was a library so full of dust that the books were indistinguishable from the shelves. An empty swimming pool in another room. A kitchen full of rusting appliances and cookery.
In the middle of the house was a great room, once simply and tastefully decorated with fine furniture and art, now saw every inch of floor space with little toys.
A menagerie of glass figurines spread themselves over the marble floor, toy cars and complimenting tracks wound intricately through the fragile beasts and found their way to a doll’s house, beautifully furnished, stood four minuscule stories high, and the tiny inhabitants froze in their practice of the piano, of reading the newspaper, of climbing stairs. Stuffed toys, an abundance of marbles, pretty gems and stones, a mixture of trucks and slingshots and balls and bicycles – the room was filled. And in the center of that odd hall, there was a child’s bed, outfitted in white crocheted lace. And in that bed, a head of golden curls on the feather pillow, there was the house’s single human inhabitant.
A little girl.
My thoughts are like locus leaves in Autumn. Small, insignificant, trailing behind me, unnoticed, stuck to the soles of wet shoes. With a strategy to usurp my habits, my words, my preferences, they lie on the floor, and can only be swept or vacuumed, contained in a clearly marked trash bin. If I try to pick them up, one by one, they will crumble and spread. They must be banished in a rush of wind. In one fell swoop. Otherwise, they will reign supreme.
I wouldn’t have noticed it, if it weren’t for the birds.
My head was down, my eyes on my feet as they traversed new cement pavement. The freeway overpass was near my ears, but I’d long since learned to train it out of my brain – it’s just white noise. Trains, too. Just white, featureless noise. There were softer sounds around, and I heard the pad of my dog’s feet, or the squeak of my sneakers. No people were about, though, no voices on which I could drop eves. My mind was elsewhere, trenched up in the processes that make up my life, when an abrupt realization made me forget my thoughts and look up from the ground.
Heavenward went my gaze, and I sought out what sounded to me at first to be chicks, baby birds. I looked for a nest, for surely these smallish squeaks didn’t belong to full-grown birds. Logic intervened, telling me that baby birds are not often born at this time of year, especially in this climate. So I searched for birds, adult birds, however small they may have been.
And I found them, sitting upon a radio tower.
At least, that’s what I think it was…
It was topped with oddly shaped drums, with a small platform welded between them. And there they were, those birds. Right in between the drums, too. Yelling at each other with lilliputian inflection. Discussing the weather, the season, the price of worms on the black market. They chattered and bartered and discussed their bird things, and I listened, and looked at the tower.
What a strange thing to still be standing – a radio tower. It was painted in stripes of faded red and chipping white. A series of ladders and platforms, arbitrarily placed, let to the top of the tower and it’s bizarre drums. I tried to picture the tower without drums, and I decided it looked a little bit like the Eiffel tower.
I started walking again, silently thanking the little birds for their squabbles, silently thinking about the Eiffel tower.
I went there once. Right to the top of it, and the ascension was horrifying. A glass elevator took twenty people upwards to a first platform. The claustrophobia could not have been more acute. It was so stark that when I’d decided I’d had my fill of the Parisian scenery, I refused to take the elevators down.
I took the stairs.
There’s 1700 steps.
I. Took. The. Stairs.
My favorite shoes are made of worked leather, in a style that already looked worn-out when I purchased them, and slightly reminiscent of an Oxford shoe. These simple elements suit me.
The Oxford style hearkens somewhat to my English heritage, but more importantly speaks of a bygone era of jazz, swing dance, and a familial characteristic to be smart, and have a good time.
Leather speaks to my heart of durability, longevity, and no-waste in material. Having them already be worked meant that I didn’t have to worry about wrecking these sole covers – which all gives hope to the fact that my feet, small though they may be, tend to wear out shoes quickly.
They do have a bonus feature that I find to be all the more endearing, but others may find…annoying. These beloved shoes of mine…squeak.
And it’s not just a cute little yip of the rubber sole on linoleum. It’s the leather that speaks, and it lasts throughout the entire footfall. It’s like my shoes are saying, “Oh thou that wearest us every day for three quarters of a year – fear not! We are stalwarts in the protection of your fine hobbit feet. We will not wear down prematurely, that you may continue to walk unhindered by wood chips and gravel.
“And we will continue to sing our song to thee in the quiet places – for here in the library, where heads are bowed in deepest concentration, the song of leathered devotion will sing its loudest.”
“Text me the name of the stuff you want and I shan’t return until I have found it.”
I’d said it when I was leaving, walking out the door, and my husband obeyed. I memorized the word during the five-minute drive. It was a chant in my head by the time I reached the pharmacy. I said it out loud three or four times as I crossed the parking lot to the doors.
I almost forgot it when I saw the footprints.
Someone had managed to step into the once-wet paint of cross walk lines, unwittingly decorating the symmetry with half-formed prints of the sole of a large work boot. I stopped abruptly, watching the prints, thinking maybe they would leave. It hurt my eyes to see them so blatant. It was disrespectful – churlish – to the symbol of pedestrian right of way.
I looked up at the sound, and saw a man in front of me, a small plastic bag around his wrist. Gazing past him, I saw the automatic doors closing with a soft shum. And then I remembered.
Audibly, I said, “Hi.”
Swiftly, I made my way into the pharmacy, determined to remain integrous in my quest for cough medicine – but my thoughts were jumbled; distracted.
Dextromethorphan. I let it circle in my mind, a weak talisman against curiosity. Cosmetic displays on the right, food stuffs on the left, Halloween decorations on the ceiling, a brightly patterned carpet – all threatened to take my attention from my task.
Those prints… Who had made them? Who would have walked in wet paint? Who had feet so large as to create such only half an imprint, only half of the foot?
“No,” I muttered. Whispered it under my breath. “Now’s not the time. Dextromethorphan.”
I’d reached the aisle. I said the word again and again, searching for it alone. Acetametaphin, guaifenesin, accompanied it often, in varying forms and concentrations. I wanted it pure and unaccompanied. Untainted.
A loud Southern woman began discussing the finer points of loosing her shoe and being late for work. I stopped to listen, looking at the bottles intently so as not to be noticed as eaves dropping. Someone entered the aisle then, and I looked over to their feet.
They were wearing boots.
Maybe someone like this person had made those prints?
I found it. I found the stuff – took it to the counter, tried to make the cashier laugh as she rang up my small bottle of 20 soft gels.
I all but ran to my car, avoiding the cross walk altogether, and when I had sent a text to my husband to let him know that relief was on the way, I let my mind go free.
Questions formed in my mind, and I felt I could see the day those prints were made, imaginary scenes from a past that wasn’t mine. It was only a five minute drive home, but it only took me five minutes to know something I hadn’t known before.
Those prints were made by a tall man, who was having a bad day. Stepping in that paint was the fifth thing that had gone wrong that day, and things only worsened from there.
This man’s name was Steven – and Steven had just been born in my head.