The Red Kidney Beans

I spent most of today walking around with a can of red kidney beans. They’re sitting on the desk as I write this.

This came to pass because I’d known since last night that I’d be making a vegan chili for dinner this evening but that I was lacking one all-important ingredient.

Yes. The red kidney beans.

You might think it is suspiciously well-organised for a young man to know what he’s going to be eating for dinner almost 24 hours in advance, but I say no! it’s practically brinkmanship.

You see, when I order my groceries online I usually have a ten-day cycle in mind and while I don’t eat my ten dinners in any particular order, the vegan chili is usually the last thing I decide to cook. I don’t know why but that’s the way it tends to go. And tonight, being Day 10, is chili night.

So you see, I am no Nostradamus, nor are my culinary habits regimented to the point of total predictability. That is, if you don’t count the unbreakable appointment with destiny that is eating a vegan chili every tenth evening.

Three-times-a-month Vegan Chili Boy, they’ll call me. This is mildly preferable to Mr. Tunafish.

Anyway, I knew that the only shops I’d be passing on my journey today would be around 11am when I’d be passing through trendy Finnieston. The rest of my day would be spent at home and on trains and on Concrete Island (the name I give to an office complex in a wasteland near the motorway where Nothing Shall Growe).

So I bought the can of Red Kidney Beans at 11am in full knowledge that I’d be walking around with them for the next seven or eight hours.

People kept giving me strange looks. “Hark,” their glance said, “at that man with his red kidney beans,” and “what’s a lad like that doing with a can of red kidney beans? This ain’t no Mexican chili cook-off. Unless it is of course. Is this a Mexican chili cook-off? I hope it is. But I bet it isn’t. My hopes are routinely dashed.”

At first I didn’t understand their problem. What is wrong with carrying a can of red kidney beans around. Is it so strange and improbable?

But after a while, it began to occur to me that in the sorts of places I was spending time today — a library, Concrete Island, some commuter trains — there could never be call for cans of red kidney beans. The can wasn’t stashed away in a grocery bag or anything, I was just carrying it around as if I had something in mind for them –something relatively imminent and, given the lack of cooking equipment in the vicinity, something out of the ordinary. Did they think I was going to crack it open and start eating the beans with my hands?

I was also wearing a three-piece suit as usual, which admittedly isn’t the typical outfit of someone who is about to do anything reasonable with a can of red kidney beans. They probably wondered if the can of red kidney beans were my pet or something. Maybe they thought that the can of beans was my friend.

I began to feel a bit silly.

“I see you’ve noticed my beans,” I began say to people when they gave me a particularly funny look, and then I would find myself going into a defensive ramble about the workings of my ten-day grocery cycle and how I wouldn’t be going near any shops today aside from the ones I’d be passing around 11am and that I had little choice but to carry them around all day.

But then people really started giving me even stranger looks, as if I were some sort of kidney bean pervert.

Eventually, I decided to embrace the eccentricity that apparently comes with innocently carrying around a can of red kidney beans all day long by getting in before people had a chance to find it strange. “I don’t think you’ve noticed my red kidney beans,” I said to a passerby, “What do you think?”

“Thank for seeing me today,” I said to someone I’d been meeting, “I’d like to introduce my can of red kidney beans.”

I am home now and thinking about preparing that chili. It feels a shame to eat them now really. Maybe I’ll take my beans out to a restaurant.

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