Sunday, September 26, 2010

Storytime: The Boy Who Ate The Walnut

Once upon a time there was a little boy. He was alternatively serious and smiling, like the most intelligent little boys are. He had deep founts of intention mixed with jags of utter and complete impulse. He did things without thinking, and did not do other things because he thought too much. His wardrobe consisted of t-shirts he found funny, and pants with double seams, in case one seam were to rip.

His mother kept nothing but diet food in the house. Celery sticks and smelly shakes. Thin granola bars and fibrous cereals. He could never eat enough, his growing frame needed calories and more calories. He was always hungry.

When he was six, he was sitting in his classroom, tiled linoleum floors and high pastel painted walls like any other public school room. As always, he was starving. In the very corner of the floor, there was a small patch of dust, where the scythe like long broom of the custodian had missed, was designed to miss always. And in that corner, among the dust bunnies, he spotted a walnut. Not in the shell but the very nut of it, exposed. And he couldn't help himself, he didn't even think about it, but picked it up and ate it. He immediately regretted it, the inside of his mouth turned sour.

When he was seven or eight, he was hanging out at the playground, on the roundabout. He couldn't spin it around himself, more than one kid was needed to run and get it going enough. So instead he lay at the center of it, staring at the sky. He noticed something shining at the center of it, where the pole met the ground, and reaching with his grubby little fingers, he found a Chunky bar. Still immaculately wrapped in its silver and red foil. He ran home with it, and hid it from his parents by camping out in the garage to eat it. It was rock hard, so he used a screwdriver to break pieces off of it, in the musky darkness.

In high school, he joined the swim team. Now more than ever, he could not eat enough. His body was screaming for carbs, protein, sugars, fats. He went to the store and bought enough materials to make ten huge sub sandwiches. When he took it home and put it in the fridge, his mother screamed at him. "What if your father eats it!" she yelled, constantly concerned about his father's heart, which was probably going to give out early, like his father's father's had. He looked her in the face, a tall rangy boy at the height of his adolescence, and told her he would continue to buy this stuff and bring it home if she refused to put real food in the house.

His early job history was full of food. He was fired from the gas station for eating all the beef jerky. He was fired from McDonalds for eating chicken nuggets. The deli fired him for eating all the matzoh balls and way too many pickles from the barrel. The grocery store fired him for once again eating too much beef jerky.

Finally finding a non-food related career he was good at, his adult fridge was no better. Jars and jars of pickles. Nothing but plastic containers of oily olives. Wholesale cartons of his beloved Chunky bars.

At the height of his bachelorhood diet, nothing but pizza, steaks, homemade jerky, home-brewed beer, 8 pieces of french toast in the morning and jars of Vienna sausages as snacks, he met a girl who could eat nothing. At first, she was fine, ate ice creams and fried things and mochas. But as she got older, and they fell in love year after year, her body changed, rejecting everything. First no dairy. No meat. No gluten. No sugar. No caffeine. No alcohol. No butter. Her body became a battlezone of chemicals and one after another, she became the girl who lived on nothing. As if his gluttony touched her, and transferred to her, but changed and mutated, canceled each other out. She was the antidote that is just another virus itself, would make her sick without the disease to fight, would be meaningless and deadly on its own, but had purpose when there was something to push back. They lived together, the boy who ate everything and the girl who ate nothing, and between them found a balance, that resulted bags of strange candy lying around everywhere. But it worked. He finally had enough calories.


  1. jack spratt could eat no fat. his wife could eat no lean. so, between them both, they licked the platter clean.

    wv: eylak: eylak the iq to totally get the story (but i like it)

  2. So, do you just eat cinnamon bears?

    Really well written.


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