A Fear of Hunger

Some people are afraid of dying. Others are afraid of the dark or of drowning. Most of these common fears have some sort of scientific name, some “…phobia” or another. As for me, I am afraid of hunger. I don’t necessarily mean fear of starving to death, but more like a deep-seated anxiety that there will not be enough food. As near as I can tell, the word for this is borborygmuphobia. 

I was at a wedding a few years ago and there was a buffet dinner at the reception. I remember making sure I was near the buffet table when the time came for loading our plates. There was this irrational fear that the food would run out before I had a chance to eat my fill. But the fact is, there’s always enough food. Usually more than enough, but my phobia persists nevertheless.

That reception was at my cousin Chris’ wedding a few years ago in Houston. My daughter Anna was there as well, and when it came time to eat, I noticed she was posturing at the front of the line the way I was. She confessed that she harbors the same fear of not being able to sate her appetite. We discussed our mutual affliction and agreed that the fear manifests itself most readily when one is hungry. A few months ago, I went to a Mediterranean buffet for lunch. This place tended to get crowded during the noon hour so I made sure to arrive at about 11:45 in order to beat the rush, though I was still a little nervous. I got ahead of the lunch crowd no problem, but get this: as I was devouring the food on my plate, I found myself resentful of the arriving patrons. I was fearful that they would consume the remainder of the food before I could get my second plate. So I ate hurriedly in order to get back in front of them while they were still paying and getting their drink cups.

I don’t know where this comes from. As far as I can recall, there was no childhood trauma involving the confiscation or withholding of food.

I don’t know, maybe I’ve repressed such an event.

Just this past September, I attended the wake for my dear departed cousin Chris. The same Chris who was wed just scant months earlier. We all miss him sorely. It may seem clumsy to insert that fact here in this particular post, but the point is, I was beset with the same hunger phobia as before.

I paid my respects, I hugged and consoled the bereaved, and I recalled with joy all the happy times I had with Chris. Then I made certain there was plenty of food. It was a nice spread: DIY breakfast tacos and other assorted brunch-type fare. Again, I was among the first to be served. I think Anna was too.

I hope this does not come across as disrespectful of Chris. I loved him greatly. We all did. The thing is…Chris, while a perfect gentleman, may have had a similar anxiety about food, so I believe he would have understood.

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We miss you, Chris.

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