Medical Microfiction: Parorexia

“Summer Vacation”

Xorg evaluated his new appearance. Tattered, smelly pullover paired with oversized sweats. Filthy black gloves. Deranged gray beard overgrowing his face.

He’d requested the agency schedule him a vacation where he could live like the locals. This holiday was supposed to simulate the experience of a quarter of Earth’s population. The itinerary came highly rated by customers.

But so far, Xorg was underwhelmed. All that money to sleep outside?

Then something caught his eye: a shopping cart overflowing with empty aluminum cans. Xorg grabbed one, bit the top off, and chewed.

Hot damn!, he thought, These people dine like kings!


Parorexia is a compulsive craving for items not normally considered food. The disorder is more commonly known as pica. Pica ranges from the gross but mundane (biting the nails, chewing the hair, eating boogers) to the bizarre (eating of dirt, metal, or other nonfood items). Interestingly, it’s more commonly found in pregnant women and in people with poor nutrition, especially those who are iron deficient. It’s like the body’s so desperate to get those missing minerals that suddenly eating dirt sounds like a great idea.

Tourism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who out there loves to travel? I certainly do. For a lot of us, the real fun in travel is in getting off the beaten path, experiencing a place like the locals do. But if an alien were visiting our world, when taken as a whole, how does humanity live?

This week, the #FitchTheHomeless viral video made its rounds, and it got me thinking about how ridiculously common homelessness is on a global scale. Did you know that around a quarter of the world’s population doesn’t have legal access to an indoor sleeping space? This figure varies from source to source because the definition of “homeless” is squishy (Do we count people who sleep in homeless shelters? Does a car count as a “home”?), but the number blew me away. I suppose it’s the idea that such a lifestyle, if you will, is such a common experience around the world.

Common enough, perhaps, that for an alien visitor, it would look like a good way to get the local experience.

They come for the local experience, but stay for the fabulous food!

How about you? Ever eaten anything truly odd, by accident or otherwise?

4 thoughts on “Medical Microfiction: Parorexia

  1. I would say a piece of aluminum foil, and it is disgusting…the foil just floating around in your mouth while you are trying to catch it with your spit…

    Man, oh, man…

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