This afternoon (Day 6 of the Hunger Challenge), as I left the gym and contemplated the evening ahead, I realized there was very little I could do by way of socializing that would not involve blowing my food budget--which, truth be told, was already looking a bit threadbare, due to the luxury of a Larabar for lunch ($1.29). I couldn't have dinner with friends (at least not a dinner in which I could eat what they did), couldn't go out for drinks, couldn't have people over for drinks. Going to a movie might've been a possibility, provided I didn't eat or drink anything during the show. No thanks.

Then I looked back at the past few days and thought about the other socializing opportunities I'd had to sacrifice in the name of eating within a $4-per-day budget. I couldn't go to Cav on Monday to celebrate its 4th anniversary with a glass of champagne, because even though the champagne would have been free, everything else would've cost me. (Plus, technically, I suppose even the bubbly would have had to count.) On Wednesday, I begged out of the once-monthly social get-together I have with some of my fellow organizers here in SF because whether we went out or ate in somewhere, I'd have to stick with water. Last night: cheapest just to stay in. Tonight, I'm craving a drink and some company, but I have 27 cents left in the day's coffers.

It's funny (except that it's not): when I imagined how this project would go, I visualized collective dinners, an occasional glass of (very, very cheap) wine, and less impact on my ability to go out and have fun (or stay in and have fun, for that matter). And so we come to another thing I've always taken for granted: the ability to spend money on food and drink as a form of entertainment and communing with friends.

I'm ready for this week to end as much because I'll be able to actually be able to go out and engage in the sort of socializing I usually do (i.e., the sort that involves food and drink) as because I'm tired of eating each meal with a calculator at my side.

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