Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted is a "feel-good book" that I picked up by chance in the Carnegie library.
Its a short story book, and the title story is about a woman, who walks out of her weight watchers meeting, and decides to eat whatever she wants, the whole day. She gets a dozen donuts (each one described in exquisite detail), hot dogs, a bacon cheeseburger with fries, malted chocolate, cheetos, icecream, steak, apple crisp and crumb topped cherry pie, a martini, baked potato with butter, bacon, and sour cream; and every piece of food she puts in her mouth is described with wonder and happiness. She even describes the joy of eating unhealthy food as almost sexual (but more yeasty and better).

I suddely realized what kind of a story it is - its like food porn - you watch someone fulfilling your deepest desires, and wish that you were getting some of that action too. And it struck me how just imagining someone eat all that awesome food made me happy, even though it really should have left me wanting it myself.

I really liked the story, really liked the idea, but then I reached the end. Unlike sex, food cannot be just celebrated in a story without regret. You eat, you enjoy, but then you cry.

She said "I would like to end this by saying that it felt really good to cheat all day, to eat whatever I wanted. But it didn't. All that happened was that I felt hollow-eyed."

I'm sorry Elizabeth Berg, but there have been many many days in my life when I have eaten without regret, and I have been happy at the end of it. Happy to finish the entire chocolate bar, happy to sit with a pack of red-spicy banana wafers and finish it, happy to order a cheese pav-bhaji with extra butter pav and top it off with kulfi and falooda.

For someone who writes feel-good stories, how could you end your first story with a moral that eating good is bad ? How could you leave your readers with the guilt of that woman, with the shame of not being able to control themselves ? Do you think we are not mature enough to be able to recognize a fantasy for what it is? It felt like watching a porn video which ends with the stars regretting their ways and deciding to stay faithful from now on. Disappointing.

2 comments:

  1. Whoa, that really does suck. Bad ending.

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  2. Started watching this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8nJKa13sBo&fmt=18

    ..after leaving comment. Seems almost too coincidental!

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