I Am The Worst About Letting Myself Get Hangry, But I'm Relieved There's a Word For It

There's that special space you get into where you're so hungry that nothing makes sense and you irrationally hulk out.
Publish date:
September 5, 2014
food, HUNGRY, hangry, angry, cranky, moods

Let me tell you about a little lesson in getting hangry -- one of my favorite portmanteaus ever, a fantastic blend of "hungry" and "angry."

The other day, a friend of mine and I took the ferry into San Francisco, planning to embark on a taco tour. We were going to go off this list at SFist, since they'd led us so well with dim sum. I'd had a little bit of yogurt and fruit in the morning, but I didn't want to go too wild, because I wanted to keep room for tacos. Plus, we were heading into the city at 11, which meant we'd be eating at noon, right?

Well, things got messed up, and we didn't hit the city until two. I was already harried by the time I picked my friend up for the ferry, because, as usual, I was trying to do 12 things at once, and basically failing at all of them. Among those things was eating, as I was acutely reminded when we hit the Ferry Building for our first stop: Tacolicious. We had our doubts about the popular chain, but we wanted to give it a try in the interest of science.

Well, let me tell you two important things about their Ferry Building location. One, it's a stand outside. Two, it closes at two.

We got there at 2:01.

I was feeling a little hot and flurried, but I buckled down. We could do this. Tacos were in our future. We strode up Market and then crossed over to El Garaje, over on Third Street. We could not find El Garaje, despite the fact that Yelp customers seem to think it exists.

At this point, I was even hotter, thanks to the relentless sun (I know, in downtown San Francisco in summer, it was weird), the fact that I hadn't had any food, and the fact that I was getting thirsty. I made the probably smart decision to stop at a corner store for a beverage, but picked orange Fanta instead of something sensible like water, and then I practically had a meltdown when I realized it was not a twist top.

My poor friend was subjected to my peevishness and the beginnings of a temper tantrum of epic proportions, accompanied by extensive whining, which she tried to assuage by hustling me onto a bus, then onto BART, and then into the Mission, where, of course, there are no mythical taquerias because they have quite enough of the real thing, thank you very much. We hit up La Taqueria, which, mercifully, was open, doing brisk business, and not fooling around. Our tacos were up in a matter of minutes, and we wolfed them down like the starving animals we were.

It wasn't the first time I'd let myself get so hungry that it had transitioned into anger, and, sadly, it probably wouldn't be the last. There's that special space you get into where you're so hungry that nothing makes sense and you irrationally hulk out -- your keyboard won't work right, you can't sit comfortably, the cat is looking at you funny, everything smells like food, will that guy on the bus please just shut up already, you can't believe this thing on Facebook, why does your sister-in-law have to send such weird emails...everything makes you angry.

When I get hangry, I get into fights with everything. Spoons. Bushes. Books. Whatever is in front of me is considered the enemy, until I get some food, and then I calm down basically immediately. You'd think, after years of seeing this process unfold, that I would be good at feeding myself before I get hangry, but I'm not. I've tried setting alarms as reminders to get my scene together, I've tried keeping healthy snacks in and around my desk, I've tried setting a rigid schedule so I eat at specific times.

Instead, I overwork (or, more rarely, overplay), can't figure out why I'm getting so upset and everything is so difficult, and then realize that I am ravenous, and that if I do not eat more or less immediately, someone will die. It's an issue so extensive among my friend group that the warning "If I start getting bitchy, please tell me to go eat something" has been uttered more than once -- especially at conferences, where it's easy to let time fly by without eating. Equally common is the tendency to follow up on that warning, only to get snapped at by a hangry person who refuses to take a little break to grab something with high protein, or whatever it is she needs, so she'll feel a little better.

Over at Hello Giggles, Tyler Vendetti just posted a fun roundup of cool words to use when you're hangry, including borborygmi, which is one of my favorite onomatopoeic words of all time. It describes the slow, rolling grumble of your gut when it wishes to draw your attention to the fact that it would like some food, NOW.

Her list got me thinking about how often I let myself get hangry, though, and how easily I distract myself from the fundamental need to eat food. And I love food -- I have such a deep and intense passion for food that I will drive all over the Richmond in search of the perfect XLB (that's xiao long bao aka soup dumplings to those not in the know, and I'll spare you a trip, Shanghai Dumpling King is where you want to go, their XLB are basically like a mouthgasm -- they're at 3319 Balboa, you can thank me later).

When I have days off, I'm a total pro (for the most part) at planning food events and making sure I eat on a regular basis, but when I'm working, I'm absolutely terrible about letting myself get hangry. Given that I already have some mood regulation problems, you'd think I'd be more with it when it comes to self care and trying to minimize the potential for getting riled up, but apparently, you'd be wrong.

Somehow, despite the fact that I'm bad about controlling it, I feel better having a word to describe it. It makes me feel less alone to know that enough people forget to eat, thereby getting all pissy, that we have a special word just to describe it. Sort of like that moment when you finally get a diagnosis -- you're not magically fixed, but at least you know what's going on, and that's a step in the right direction.

P.S. In case you're wondering, my favorite word is "defenestration."