Toasties & Tesla Coils

Lemmas & LEDs. Bayes & Bouillabaisse. Pseudo-random ramblings from Nimrod Gileadi.

A Tin of Baked Beans

A man is hungry. All he has at home is a tin of baked beans. Think about it: It’s 2 am. He’s raving hungry. He has no bread. He has no vegetables. He doesn’t even have gas in his kitchen. Just one tin of baked beans. It’s dreadful. It’s not even disgusting. It’s just scary. Hunger, as you know, dulls the senses. Nothing can beat hunger – not morality, not loyalty, not even love. People lost at sea ate each other – true fact. Father ate his daughter. Man ate his dog. Twins ate each other. Hunger is just a force of nature, no, hunger is a small, angry god that will not take ‘no’ for an answer. And the man, he’s a strong man. But the hunger is strong too. And while baked beans aren’t exactly foie gras, at least they didn’t share a womb with you. And this man, he’s exhausted. The hunger has been haunting him for a long time and on many fronts – hunger for love, hunger for a reason, hunger for a connection. He always wants, and it’s not that he just wants more. He wants more than more. He wants something else. But what he has is some baked beans, and a tin opener. If he didn’t have an opener, this would all be academic. But he has one. A tin of baked beans, an opener and a bit of self respect, not much. Or maybe one should say not enough. Much or little might matter to scientists or historians, but the real distinction is enough or not enough. And it looks like he doesn’t have enough self respect. And time is working against him. Because hunger, everyone knows, only gets stronger. “So I’ll eat some baked beans”, thinks the man. “It’s not such a tragedy. Maybe a major blunder, but tragedy? They sell those beans in the supermarket, after all, so they are at least edible. So if I eat, it says something about me, that I’m not gourmet, I know. But it’s not like I lost my humanity.” That’s what the man is thinking, but you can’t say he’s objective. The hunger has driven him so mad that he can no longer remember what being sane feels like. And really, an hour later he’s asleep, dreaming that he’s saving a little girl from a burning house, and that people are cheering for him. But it’s just a dream, reality is different. In reality, his stomach is making weird noises. And people, those who are very attentive to that sort of thing and live on the same floor, already start to whisper. In his dream he can be Julius Caesar, Bruce Lee or Nancy Drew, but it doesn’t matter, because truth is, his name has been dragged through the mud.

This is my own translation of a short story by Etgar Keret. The original, in Hebrew, can be found here.
Featured photo by eatmorechips.