Chunks of tender beef deep fried with batter and sautéed with orange peel and scallions in spicy sauce.
My best friend was a self-mutilator. A cutter. For years, he would draw and trace, trace and retrace the lines on his arm with a kitchen knife. With the silver and shiny blade he would rip at the pink and shiny scar tissue, hard as diamonds, and he would break bonds to the point where he would bleed profusely for hours on end without clotting.
…served with our Chef’s special sauce.
With his arms twisted tenuously under his pillow at night, he would often awaken feeling weakened and wet with the puddle that had formed. What had originally been only superficial pain led to terminal pain.
Lightly breaded and fried with broccoli, snow peas, and mushroom in our special brown sauce.
Nonetheless, he continued to injure himself. Years later, he would reveal that the reason he had sliced and diced his body beyond recognition was simple—feeling pain was better than feeling numb, better than feeling nothing at all. I recognize now that this teenage specter of my best friend is far more similar to myself that I could have possibly imagined.
…sautéed in our special spicy Hunan sauce with vegetable.
Today, it was the Chinese take-out menu. The day before that, it was the Boscov’s candy department—a mix of gourmet chocolates, fudge available by the pound, and the normal, prepackaged pap that clogs supermarket checkouts and pudgy children’s arteries. Last month I made a journey to the Fat Man’s Mecca, known to some as Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Every bit and bite of sugary shit that could possibly be conjured had congregated into this store, the focal point of a city built by a chocolate conglomerate. Licorice in twenty flavors. Chocolate bars with chewy centers. Peanut butter confections that made me peel at the roof of my mouth with my tongue just because I looked at them. I could feel the shiv twist in my side with every step, every sideways glance.
Crispy outside, tender inside stir-fried with Chef’s special sauce.
The sickness kicks in. I had no reason to drive seventy miles to visit a chocolate store with neither the ability to eat sugar nor the intention to buy candy. I did these things because I needed to bleed. I needed to feel the pain. I needed to feel.
Shrimp, beef, and scallops, with famous Szechuan Kon Pao sauce with nuts.
This afternoon, walking downtown, I picked up this random Chinese take-out menu from a trash bin and read it cover-to-cover. I smelled the brown, sticky edges of the crinkled paper and imagined that I had reunited with my long-forbidden friend, General Tso.
Free Delivery within 5 miles radius.
I crumpled the menu, threw it back in the bin, licked my fingers, and went on my way.