Hunger Games, Geezer Style
Marriage Peril

by Douglas Page

Your wife abandons you during Spring Break for a retreat with the grand kids. You have assignments due, so you remain home to work and feed the cats. Turns out, however, there's a little wildness left in all men. Within 72 hours, you become a feral sugar forager. By the end of the week, the house a dark cave, a crack house with blinds drawn, even in the daytime.
Wednesday you notice you are wearing the same clothes you had on when she left Saturday. Even the socks and underwear. Not changing underwear is not that unusual. Most men know you can get four days minimum from one pair of briefs. The second day you turn them around. The third day you turn them inside out and repeat the process. 
You stop showering and shaving. No point. No one's here. You're not going out. You sleep alone. Why waste the water? 
The normal schedule is vacated. You stay up late, sleep days, eat only when hungry - forgetting your mantra of eating to prevent hunger. But, there are no mantras in ferity. 
The cats like to be fed twice a day, in the morning and again in the evening, depending on the weather, which determines when Max the big male wants in the house. He likes to patrol the yard and nap in the sun on the back deck, watching the birds busy in the feeder above him. He doesn't bother the birds. He's a pacifist, a Jainist cat. Live and let live. When he wants back in the house he jumps up into the planter box outside the dining area window and stares in until someone notices he's done patrolling.
That is, if the blinds are open. Thursday you let Max out and forget to open the blinds. It isn't until after dark that you remember you haven't fed the cats.
You forget other things. One morning you start the car early to defrost the windows, in case you need to dash to the store to restock the cookie jars. Later, you go to sleep wondering why you are hearing the sound of an idling engine. At four a.m. you look out the window, wondering whose vehicle is running. It's your own car, idling gently, headlights on, defroster blasting. For 22 hours.
You rationalize this inattention is due to sugar deficiency. You have none. Both cookie jars are empty. The Girl Scout stash eaten. The peanut M&Ms, purchased in industrial bags for their survival value - gone, as are the chocolate chips used for cookies. One night you eat nothing but peanut butter trail bars, raided from emergency kits. The bars are maybe 10 years old. You should have suspected something. Even the mice had ignored them. There should be a warning, that after so many years, when consumed, they produce near-lethal bloating. Ah, the effluvium of ferity.
Soon, there is no longer any pretense of staying fit, of managing deadlines. The assignment folders were shoved aside, the surrender complete. You are alone, on a soaring all-nighter. An enlightening montage of 60s rock shakes the house. The odd calm at sun-rise, as neighbors leave for the day. But you know you're different. You've been up all night, not wasting life sleeping. You've experienced the Dark Side of the Moon. You are in free flight,  in sagacious connection with the cosmos.
but, you must eat again. Only the bakery is closed today. The do-nut cache obtained Saturday didn’t survive the weekend. Bad planning. But there is no planning in ferity.
Then, you remember the survival advise of a friend. Find the frosting stash, he said. All women have them, to complete emergency cakes. Open the frosting. Pop some corn. After every other mouthful of popcorn collect a dollop of frosting on your finger. Instant chocolate popcorn.
Plus, he said, corn is a vegetable.

06 April 2012

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