Driving in my car this afternoon I heard a report from the Miami zoo. They interviewed one of the staff who stayed with the orangutans during Hurricane Irma. Turns out, animals stress eat too. All this time I thought it was my environment and excessive television watching that induced my bad behavior. But now I know stress eating is as natural as pooping in the woods. So the next time I’m knee deep in sadness and a sheet cake resembling a giant frosted hamburger, and my thoughts turn to how I feel like a fat pig, I can to remind myself of the monkey during a lightning storm who is plowing her way through her tenth banana probably thinking, I am just a disgusting human. Hand me another banana Latricia. I don’t even care anymore if I fit into my cage.
Then maybe Latrica says something in monkey language like, “Harriet, why are you being so hard on yourself? You are going to hate yourself in the morning if you eat that tenth banana. All that sugar is going to go straight to your hairy bottom.”
“I know you’re right. It’s just the rain makes me worry so much about where I am in my life. I mean, is this all there is? Am I even ever going to see the other side of the monkey house?”
“Do what I do when I’m stressed,” Latricia would say comfortingly. “Instead of eating, I get crafty. Try building a new house out of eucalyptus leaves. Here, I’ll show you the best way to weave them. And as I recall, you don’t even like that type of banana, so don’t waste the calories on it girl!”
“I hear you.” She would sigh and then look into Latricia’s ear to pick out a bug.
“I haven’t told you, but Doug and I aren’t doing so well, and with the weather like this, it really gets me down. But you’re right, you’re right. After the first few bites, it all tastes the same.” She’d then probably move to the top of Latricia’s head to explore for more critters.
“I keep eating because I hope it’s going to make me feel better. But my tummy gets bloated and I can’t swing from the branches quickly. My diaper is so tight, it’s uncomfortable. And I don’t want to have to get all new diapers, again.”
Then Harriet, after a moment of playing with her own feet, would look down longingly at her half-eaten, off-brand banana and toss it to the bottom of the cage and shout, “Show me how to weave those damn eucalyptus. I’m going to make myself a fabulous hat!”
And the two monkeys would high five and begin to weave. All the while, there’s a couple watching them on the other side of the glass. One wistfully saying to the other, “They lead such simple lives.”
So the next time you come home to find your cat watching Game Of Thrones and plowing his way through a large pizza, take comfort. We all have worries, and sometimes a little extra snacking is all we need.