It was nearly 9 p.m. on a frigid February night, and I was more or less trapped in the depths of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library. My mind began to wander away from taking notes and toward the restless itch that had grown in my stomach. I had a bad feeling that this was no ordinary snack attack. No, this was the type of hunger that spreads like weeds in a garden, seemingly sprouting up out of nowhere. It was the type of hunger born from too many hours spent hunched over my laptop, too many hours spent highlighting study guides and scribbling on index cards.

Illustration by Megan Mulholland
Illustration by Megan Mulholland
Illustration by Megan Mulholland
Illustration by Megan Mulholland

I knew the handful of nuts and fruits I had stored in my backpack as an emergency snack would provide no relief from the aching feeling of my stomach was eating itself inside out. I knew this was serious.

Perhaps what I needed was a fine culinary creation of frozen yogurt and a slew of Butterfinger, brownie bits, caramel sauce and pretzels (my secret ingredient — the sweet and salty combo is a tried and true winner) from Rod’s Diner — Sir Rod’s; a creation known to many as the Collider. After all, what is not to love about being up to your eyeballs in frozen yogurt, having at your disposal any and all of your favorite candies and treats? You don’t have to choose (except if you want more than five). You can have it all without the inevitable fatigue of eating the same thing over and over that arises when forced to pick one topping and one topping alone.

I dug deeper. My sweet tooth has my dentist on the edge of his seat, but I knew deep down that even the most sugary of treats would not silence my grumbling gut. Perhaps I needed the perfect trifecta of cheese, sauce and bread.

Yes, my friends, I am talking about the mecca of late night food, the be-all and end-all of snacks known as pizza. From tailgaters flocking like moths to a flame to the $5 deals Cottage Inn waves above their heads on football Saturdays or the century-long rivalry between South University Pizza and Backroom slices, there is nothing that brings people together and tears them apart again quite like pizza.

But even imagining the way a perfectly crisped crust would catch the sweetness of a stewed marinara sauce and the oozing buttery-ness of browned mozzarella did not calm the raging sea of hunger that intellectual exhaustion had brought me. Perhaps I wanted something more along the lines of a simple childhood favorite, something that didn’t ask too much of me. A sandwich, I thought, a turkey sandwich on freshly baked bread, accompanied by a crunch of fresh lettuce, some juicy tomatoes and a little something special, maybe creamy avocado or burst of flavor in the form of a fine Italian dressing.

But even Jimmy John’s wouldn’t quite satisfy my study hunger. My fists clenched with anger as I saw myself being cast into a quintessential coming-of-age movie, where I was the young grasshopper stumbling along blindly through the challenges, and my body was the silent, brooding master, unable to determine what exactly it wanted as a damn snack! With this frustration in my eyes I nearly screamed out in the shadows of the library, “What is it that you want?!”

Try again, my body asked. Be patient. It will come to you. Well if it wasn’t sweets and it wasn’t cheesy pizza and it wasn’t Mr. John’s, then there must be another player, someone else I’m overlooking but is staring me right in the eyes. It must be savory and flavorful, the right balance between protein, carbs and fats. Perhaps I couldn’t get the sweetness of the brownie, but I could certainly get the creaminess of the yogurt with maybe, some sour cream. And the warmth of the pizza could be found with some chicken, or beans. And something special could come in the form of guacamole and salsa. It could all be mine, and with a side of chips too. And like an angel from above, the neon sign for BTB came streaming into my mind, with promises of everything I had ever dreamed of.

I looked back up at the screen, the screensaver now panning over snow-topped mountains and golden prairies. I nestled down deeper into my down coat, a smile on my face. What a beautiful night to be studying.

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