On Thursday morning, my son woke me up from where I slept on the couch, TV blasting with election results still pouring in, neon orange dust caked around my mouth. He held up an empty party-sized bag of Doritos as he shook his head like an 8-year-old warden of our household.
"Mama, I want to say something," he said.
Oh, no! He found the evidence!
"I'm a little disappointed in you," he continued. "That bag was supposed to be for all of us."
"I know, baby," I said. "I'm sorry. I'll buy another bag tomorrow."
"No. I think you've had enough," he said, walking away.
Whether you're red or you're blue, there is one thing we can all relate to this past week: stress eating.
It starts innocently enough. Sure, you're on your second dinner, but this is election night! Special occasion eating is so common that Taco Bell created and trademarked Fourthmeal. And what's an election night without ice cream? Nay, an ice cream sundae! Nay, a banana split ice cream sundae!
What's the point of being an adult if you can't have seconds? It's not your fault the election results aren't in! If anything, such chaos demands a third helping. This is super stressful, after all.
Stress eating is not normal overeating. As a third-generation buffet-lover, I'm an expert on this topic. I may have left a Chinese buffet with a loosened belt buckle, but I never once left with plum sauce in my hair and wantons down my shirt. And that, my friends, makes all the difference.
Stress eating is more akin to competitive chicken wing eating than it is to a Thanksgiving dinner. It comes with licking your fingers and licking the bowl. Somehow there's always food left on your chin, your shirt, your pants, but the bag has been licked clean. I say "bag" because there are no plates in stress eating. Perhaps you eat on a paper towel, but more often, it's right out of the container. Why bother with cups when you can chug from the jug? Why bother rationing when you're about to consume an irrational amount of food?
Stress eating is sloppier, slovenlier, and less social. And it is what I did from noon on Tuesday through... wait, what day is today?
I've never been one for dignified decorum or etiquette, but the civility from my kitchen is so far gone that even I'm embarrassed. It may have begun with a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich as we neared midnight on Tuesday, but early into the Wednesday hours, peanut butter was swapped out for Nutella, and bread was swapped out for a spoon. Hydration is important, so when the Nutella jar was empty, I added milk and, after a thorough swirling and shaking, drank from the container. But it needed a little something, so I added chocolate syrup. By noon the next day, all the sweets needed to be cut with something savory. Good thing I purchased three boxes of pizza rolls in preparation for election night. I ate them off the oven tray. And so this went on and on for four straight days.
You know you've been stress eating when all the food from your kitchen is gone but the only dirty dishes in your sink are spoons.
As election results slowly rolled in and the days dragged on, the eating became more extreme and more desperate as the available food diminished. There were spoonfuls of cream cheese with "everything bagel" seasoning on it. There were Goldfish crackers dipped in jam. There was split pear soup — which on its own should demonstrate the desperation.
I'd feel ashamed to share this if it weren't for the ongoing texts from friends equally addicted to the election results, sharing what they were currently putting in their mouths. Friends spoke of melting cheese sticks and coating them in syrup. Of putting chili atop their hot apple pie. Of dipping french fries into their Ben & Jerry's.
None of us was at her best, but we were all in it together. Perhaps this should be the new slogan for America.
As the anxiety of the unknown has settled, so has my appetite. A bit. Perhaps it's time to go food shopping before I forget what a vegetable looks like. Before I outgrow all my pants with buttons. Before I finish all the kids' Halloween candy.
Then again, the recounts are about to start.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Follow Katiedid Langrock on Instagram, at http://www.instagram.com/writeinthewild. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures at Pixabay