Eighteen days was how long she claimed to have been on the Gibson Diet.
It wasn’t bulimia. It wasn’t the Keto, or the Caveman, or the Mediterranean. She wasn’t crash-coursing on newly discovered vegetables from Bolivia either. It was the Gibson Diet. The point was to mainline digital nutrients right into the back of your head.
She looked at me like I had just asked the stupidest question since, “Are you pregnant?” She didn’t say I was stupid, she just had that look. The one where a woman looks and her eyes squint almost unnoticeably. It’s that slight twitch of the eyelid, so slight, if a guy wasn’t paying attention, he wouldn’t know he was in trouble.
Regardless of how thin the line I walked, she corrected me. The tone of her voice was motherly, parental and condescending. “It uses the elements already contained in your biology and redistributes them as sustenance.”
“Ah, sustenance,” I said with manly buffoonery, “sounds delicious. You say sustenance, I say greasy burger, greasy fries, tall glass of b—”
“What? Am I making you hungry?”
“You’re making me ill.”
“Seriously? How can you not like food?”
Her eyes closed and came back open. Her head shook once, quickly. Eyes fell on me in disbelief. “What you listed is not food.”
“Huh? Not…what?” My own disbelief was more vocal, less body-language.
Then she looked away. For a second I thought she couldn’t bear to look at me any more. It wasn’t me—she was looking toward some unknown future. She told me about it, “I’m beyond that sort of carnal chaos. I don’t need bread. I definitely don’t need meat. Vegetables are fantastic, aren’t they? Yes, but I don’t need them. I can live forever without killing another animal or plant, simply by living off of the molecules already contained within my body.”
“Hold on. So what you’re saying is that your body is eating itself? Do you still…you know…defecate?”
She rolled those eyes. She didn’t have to say it, but she did anyway. “Do we have to take this conversation down to such a low level?”
“I’m just saying, if you do still, then you’re going to run out eventually. Do you drink water?”
“Oh, that’s interesting. So your ‘digital nutrients’ don’t include hydrogen, oxygen, calcium…that sort of thing? You’re not making water through that USB in the back of your skull? What about other things the body doesn’t already have? Vitamin D?”
“I can get that from the sun.” It was momentary, but it was a good change. She wasn’t so condescending. She wasn’t quite so supercilious. Her mind went another direction. The tone of her voice became gentle. She explained her diet to me a little more. “The Gibson Diet gives me a steady flow of nutrients, instead of gluts and rushes which can be bad for your insulin count. I also get a scheduled dose of endorphins so I don’t feel hungry. It’s much more balanced than an oral intake. I’m not fasting, and I’m not wasting away. This is the way everyone in the future will get their sustenance.”
There she went with the “sustenance” again. I didn’t mention the potato salad and pretzels that suddenly appeared in my mind. My mouth didn’t sound off and betray the fact that I could practically taste the turkey, avocado, bacon sandwich that I was picturing. And I sure didn’t tell her about the fajitas. Never mind that. I kept my own tone gentle, to match hers.
“Your future looks bright, to me.” I smiled and nodded. Then I excused myself. “Hey, I got an appointment. Thanks for teaching me about your new diet.”
“You might consider it.” She sounded nice, but her eyes fell on my middle, where my girth is at its girthiest.
I knew what she meant, but it didn’t matter because I had somewhere to go.
On the way out, my stomach gave a loud rumble. I was so glad my stomach had the manners and good sense to wait ’til she was out of earshot before it did that.
I wouldn’t weep for the future though. She was wrong. People are too fond of feeding their face. No one wants the basic elements when they can shove breaded shrimp in their maw (and in my case, see if I can beat the record on how many fit in there). No one wants digital spaghetti. They want the real deal. They won’t give up cheese on a cracker for the idea of cheese on a cracker. It wasn’t going to happen, not now, not ever.
So she was wrong about the future. I appreciated her opinion, whether I agreed or not. My hope, to be honest, was that she wasn’t wrong about getting everything she needed. I’d hate to see her waste away.