Thursday, 9 July 2015

Desire for Liquids

Did you know a specific area of your brain determines your desire for liquids? Regulates your thirst? I did, but didn't if you know what I mean. To be more accurate I assumed that it was controlled by some mechanism, some innate bodily function that couldn't be seen unless the coverings of a live human brain were peeled back or a human body given to science was dissected.
Until one day I stopped and gave it some serious thought.
It was a phrenology head that did it: a porcelain bust with bold words printed on it, whose appearance seemed both solid and delusory so that I instantly reached out to cup its smooth temples with my warmer palms and traced the slight rise of each localised function with my investigative fingers. In doing so my fingertips tripped across those three bumpy words just in front of the left ear: Desire for Liquids.
Desire. What did I desire? Not liquids. At times I feel I've negated it; become unable to feel normal thirst, switched off that programmed response: the one that keeps you alive. Other times, my throat feels so dry nothing will quench it, not even if I swallow the equivalent of a small stream or river. I could drink a substantial portion of the Thames and report no difference; my throat would still be a funnel of sand-paper. But should water, a natural source be sipped or gulped? Savoured like a fine wine or rapidly quaffed as if you were putting out a fierce fire? With me, it always seem to slosh around. Makes my insides loudly gurgle and visibly move like a human lying on a water bed. I am that bed – I wobble jelly-like. Wibble-wobble.
My tummy talks as if a plug's been pulled and the water's disappearing down a drain. Where it goes I know not for I don't seem to pee an awful lot. Where does it go to? I wonder. What kind of fire is it putting out? The liquid inside squelches and squishes, belches and bubbles like an internal tide or roiling water in a cooking pot. I sometimes wonder if there's a lifeboat surveying this tempestuous tide to aid any skiffs should trouble arise, or if there's a guide as to when to add solids to the frothy mix. Nourishment plunges down the narrow canal like rocks crumbling off a cliff and adheres to my stomach lining, eddying the current, but if lighter they float like an iceberg, their true size and shape concealed beneath the tumbling surface.
Sated, a churning might commence as if a storm's whipping up and or as if a cradle's being pushed to and fro. A seasick lullaby. One belligerent, the other with a more placid rage. The wash of this internal sea shifting debris and killing desire.
And yet the cavern of my mouth remains inflamed, the moisture sucked out as if it has been dried under a hot baking sun. My tongue, a shrivelled island, curiously prods this sore, rippled roof and in the surrounds tries to find a tooth-pool. Tightly compact, there are no fissures; no undiscovered place to dip my tongue. The sides of my jaw contract in a desperate attempt to reason with my shrunken gums: Secrete saliva! There is none.
Have I caused this outcome? Confused the trigger that tells me when to drink and when to abstain? Somehow suppressed the natural urge, concerned that it would lead to sugary pop and hard liquor; only allowed its voice to be heard if it cries for herbal tea for that shows no sign of abating. Rehydration lower in my estimation than the soothing pleasure of tea.
And yet in hot weather I guzzle lime and soda being quite unable to police the sudden craving; finding the syrupy lime as intoxicating as nectar but the refreshment fleeting. Still, it's a steep ascent to a place where I'm ruled by effervescent sweetness, and the come-down can be hallucinating.
But why should my liquid state concern me or you for that matter? Because if you think long and hard enough, it opens up a whole other debate about desire: how to gage when it's safe to give in and when to avert.

Picture Credit: Breakfast at Malibu, Wednesday 1989 by David Hockney