I'm a big fan of YouTube. Late at night, when I'm the only one awake and there's nothing else to do, that's where I am: clicking through video after video until I realize I have to get up for work in a few hours. It's happened more often than it probably should have. I'd almost be tempted to say I have a YouTube addiction, except that it luckily doesn't interfere with my daily life, save for the slightly-more-often-than-occasional loss of sleep.
At least, it didn't used to interfere with my life. Still, even now, I can't blame it on how much YouTube I watch. If only I hadn't clicked on that one video.
Last night, at about two in the morning, I was watching videos on YouTube, as per usual. I started with some horror narrations, most of which I had heard before, but through a series of clicks and autoplays, I somehow ended up watching cooking videos. I didn't usually like these. I can't cook to save my life, and so there's usually nothing for me in this particular genre.
I scrolled through the list of videos, not really seeing anything that looked all that interesting. I was just about to close my browser when there it was. It was a thumbnail showing an absolutely beautiful young woman. She looked like she might have been Latina, with long dark hair and big brown eyes. She seemed to be wearing a blue, 1950’s style dress with a pink, frilly apron over it. In front of her, she held up a dish, piled high with my favorite food: fully loaded baked potatoes. The title of the video read: "Jessica Makes Your Favorites: Episode 23: Baked Potatoes." I laughed a little to myself at how appropriate the title was, as if this Jessica knew I would find her video and so she named it just for me. Glancing at the clock, I saw that it was only 2:15 AM: still early by my standards. Okay, I thought, what harm could one more video do?
I clicked on the thumbnail and, in less than a second, the video started. After a brief intro with some cheery music played over shots of delicious-looking food, the woman I assumed was Jessica appeared on the screen. Seeing her move made me even more smitten with her. Everything she did seemed graceful and effortless. She seemed perfect, like she belonged to another time, or another world.
"Hi," she said. Her voice was high and sweet. "I'm Jessica. You must be hungry."
I suddenly realized that I was. It hadn’t really occurred to me before then, but in fact, I was very hungry. I found this strange, since I had had a rather large spaghetti dinner complete with enough carbs to choke a horse, but I chocked it up to my mind playing tricks on itself from looking at all of these cooking video thumbnails, and Jessica’s own intro with its tantilizing dishes.
Jessica continued. "Well," she said, "today, I've got a very special treat for you. Get ready to experience my fully loaded, extra cheesy baked potatoes. I just know they're your favorite." She looked right into the camera as she said this. I felt suddenly unsettled. There was a kind of intention in her gaze, like she was looking beyond the camera, straight at me. But I told myself that this was ridiculous. I'm just tired, I thought.
Jessica began to cook, going over each ingredient she would need for the process. She didn't just breeze through the list like other YouTube chefs, but instead she lingered on each one, as if deliberately trying to tempt the viewer. “Of course, you’ll need some delicious, ooey-gooey cheese. Can’t you just taste it now? Can’t you feel it on your tongue?” I found it odd, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. All the while, I felt my hunger increasing.
The time came to assemble all of the ingredients. "I find that all of these foods go so well together," Jessica said, with a hint of seduction in her voice. "Like warm bodies, mingling with each other, touching and caressing each other's sweet flesh. Imagine it. Taste these flavors, dancing on your tongue right now. You know, there's very little difference between eating and making love. They both involve such intimacy, such wetness, such lust." Her gaze intensified as she looked straight into the camera. "Such gluttony."
That was it. Something about the word "gluttony" had sent me into a tailspin. My hunger was now unbearable. I had to eat something.
I got up from my desk, not even bothering to turn the video off, and practically ran to the kitchen. A moment later, I was on my knees in front of the refrigerator with the door wide open. I grabbed anything I could. It didn't matter what it was. I found a tomato that had been in the rotter for God knows how long. Its skin was wrinkly and it had a spot of mold on the bottom, but I didn’t care. I sank my teeth into it, the earthy mold flavor exploding into my mouth. My gag reflex kicked in, but I fought it, eventually winning and getting the whole tomato down.
Eventually, nothing remained in the refrigerator, except a package of uncooked chicken which my girlfriend was planning to use for dinner. I tried to remind myself that raw chicken was dangerous and disgusting, but it wasn’t working. I tried convincing myself that my girlfriend would be mad if I ate it, but to no avail. My stomach felt empty. I was starving, and nothing I had eaten so far was filling the bottomless pit inside of me.
I tore through the plastic wrap like a child tears into its birthday present. The chicken felt slimy and disgusting in my hands. The sound of my teeth sinking into the meat was almost as sickening as the texture. I chewed until it became a slurried liquid that slid easier than expected down my throat. In seconds, nothing remained by the bloody pink juice, which I greedily licked off the styrofoam packaging.
It wasn't enough, though. The hunger still roiled inside my gut. I rushed toward the cupboard, and grabbed a box of cereal. It was one of those twigs-and-bark-type health cereals that my girlfriend loved. I usually hated that kind of thing, but at this moment, nothing in the world looked better to me. I had already drunk all the milk we had, so I just ripped open the box and began pouring the contents into my mouth.
Suddenly, I heard a voice from the kitchen doorway. "What the hell are you doing?" My girlfriend stood there in her bathrobe. She seemed horrified, and for the first time I realized what a terrible mess I had made all over the kitchen. "What's going on here, Damon?" she asked. She continued speaking, probably demanding an explanation, but I wasn't listening. All I could think of was how hungry I still was, and how good all of that meat looked draped over her bones.
I have no idea what I'm going to tell the detective when he finally comes in to talk to me in this cold, gray interrogation room. I've been sitting here for a while now. I can't bring myself to touch the coffee that the rookie cop left on the table for me. At last, I feel full. Stuffed, even. That last meal really hit the spot.
Written by Jdeschene