While some will be indulging in an aphrodisiac-filled meal for two this Valentine's Day, Karim Rahman has a date with his fridge.
I never really liked February. As a month, it is a transitional period; an indeterminate amount of time (talk about being bipolar) where you're not really too deep into the new year, but also not quite at the beginning of it either. If you honestly think about it, it's an almost-month where you get to reflect on how much of a failure your life is. In truth though, February is home to Valentine's Day.
Cairenes are no strangers to stress. I mean, we live in Cairo; it doesn't get more stressful. However, if you are a stressed out, frustrated singleton living in Cairo, then the second week of the second month rolling around will probably do nothing to alleviate your tension. Couples get more couple-y, shops get more love-y, everything is red. Colour psychologists (yes, they exist) have agreed that the colour red elevates blood pressure and heightens anger. It's all so very exhausting.
Now, I proudly claim the title of having the most stressful and dramatic life known to man (do not contest me). Daily, I am assaulted by so many situations and so many scenarios to deal with, that I am left at the end of the day with a range of emotions to sift through in the privacy of my own room. After years of trying to live the fabulous life (and failing), trying to have a successful dating life (and failing) and generally improving my life (and failing), all those feelings of stress, anger, joy, grief can be dealt with in one of two ways: I could either get hooked on Xanax, or I could eat my feelings. I chose the latter (because it's cheaper and more readily available).
You see, I eat in each and every situation. I ate my way through my first ever break-up, confining myself to my bed and going through not one, but two cans of sardines and four packs of crackers, watching He's Just Not That Into You on repeat and sobbing to G on the phone, all night long. The first thing I did when I found out I passed my A-levels was buy myself a very nice, very fulfilling three-course meal. I fantasise about Big Tasties more than I should and my emotional eating has reduced me to eating a whole cheesecake directly off of a plate. No cutlery, no hands: just lowered my face to the plate and shoved that motherfucker in my mouth (and cried).
I'm aware that the fabulous life loves skinny, fit and beautiful people. While I may still retain my stick-thin figure, I know this won't last for long. At some point, my metabolism is going to fail me and I'll gain thirty pounds and lose all my hair. This thought worries me, which ends up with me finding myself in the kitchen at 4am, eating my troubles away. It's a vicious cycle. In fact, "the more you feel, the more you eat" motto isn't for the faint of heart and it is certainly not the best of ways to deal with your emotions. I thought I had peaked when I finished an entire lasagna at 5:30am then proceeded to eat the contents of fridge. I was wrong. Last night, I was firmly reminded of how bad my emotional eating habits can get.
I was meeting some friends at one of our regular Maadi haunts. I hadn't had lunch and decided to indulge: I ordered a plate of fries. Talking about the rough and shaky times my parents are going through made me all anxious and twisted inside, so I ordered a plate of chicken nuggets to alleviate my tension. A friend of mine walks in, bringing his other friend along for the ride (whom I shall call Wikipedia). Wikipedia was nice, funny, charming, an insufferable know-it-all, but all around a generally pleasant (and extremely, extremely cute) human-being. Naturally, my nervousness and my hopes of Wikipedia actually being an eligible contender to play Soulmate #12634534 in the disastrous cliché that is my love life led me to order some chocolate cake. We talked, we joked, we had pseudo-intellectual conversations (where Wikipedia proceeded to explain to me about the state of our GDP and I pretended to listen and be deep in thought). Wikipedia then turned out to be engaged, which is when I decided to order a main course and proceeded to stuff my face with two chicken sandwiches and everything in our fridge when I got home.
Here's the thing: we're all constantly faced with pressure in our lives. How we deal with it individually, varies from one person to another. Some people dance, some people exercise (why?!) and some people cut themselves (sad, but true). I eat. I love eating my feelings. I find it to be a very therapeutic and tasty way to fill the gaping void that resides within me. The fabulous people barely eat, but choose to instead live on a healthy diet of expensive juice and tasteless salads that they call "green" and "progressive." Maybe that's how they deal with their own problems: maybe they don't have problems because they have a date on Valentine's Day and I don't (which is really the main conflict here).
However, while the glitterati go out with their significant-until-the-next-others and pretend to have a nice dinner then proceed to go get drunk at some fabulous party (stuffing my face with marble cake out of jealousy right now), I shall sit my in-the-near-future-fat-ass, in bed on Valentine's day, with my marathon of break-up movies, a jar of salted herrings (my Valentine's tradition) and some crackers.
They say salt heals all wounds, and quite honestly, it doesn't get saltier than eating a jar of semi-rotting fish in bed on the most romantic day of the year.