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The Hipless Boy: Killing, eating

I’m lying in bed, reading, and my girlfriend George (short for Georgina) is there beside me, reading too.

Suddenly, I laugh out loud.

George turns to me. “What’s funny?” she asks.

I point to the book I’m reading. It’s by this reporter who spends time embedded with a humvee full of American soldiers in Iraq, as part of the invasion force. One day, bored, while waiting for new orders, some of the soldiers give some local boys porn magazines for kicks. Living under Saddam, they’d never seen anything like that before in their lives. They take the magazines back to their village and the soldiers think that is the end of it. But later, a village elder comes out of the cluster of huts, yelling at the soldiers, tearing up the magazines. Their interpreter says that the guy’s pissed off because they shouldn’t have given the kids that. The soldiers laugh the guy off, but he comes out later with an RPG, and the situation suddenly turns serious. Before the elder has a chance to fire off his rocket, they start shooting at him. Quickly, he ducks back into the huts, so they send some mortar rockets out there, but instead of destroying the elder’s hut, they hit another hamlet some way past the hut – destroying the homes of friendly locals who were actually helping the Americans, by giving them locations of Al-Qaeda hideouts.

“It’s insane,” I tell George. “It’s a complete clusterfuck. You’d hate it.”

George considers this for a second. When she sees injustice in the world she gets so mad. She gets absolutely outraged. It’s terrible because her anger doesn’t have anywhere to go. Sometimes when we watch the news it’s this litany of frustrated impotent aaaaarrrgh’s.

“You’re right, I don’t want to know,” George says, and turns back to her Harper’s Magazine. Then she turns to me again. “Are you hungry?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “I could eat. What are you thinking of?”

“Poutine,” she says. Then, “Hey, did you know that in London, instead of poutine, they have like, curry and chips?”

“Wait, curry is a powder, right?”

“Yeah, but I think they make a kind of dipping sauce with it. It’s everywhere. Everyone eats it. People have it with their pints.”

I am intrigued by this. I am a big fan of fast food, especially french fries, and any variation on the theme is compelling.

“I’d never heard of that,” I say. “Do they serve it in newspapers?”

“I dunno. Google it.”

“I will,” I say, getting up. “I’ll put it on my Google list.” I walk over to my pants and pull out my notebook. I carry the thing everywhere, and I’ve allocated two pages in the back as my “Google list” or “Googlist!” It’s just a list of random things that come up all the time that I have to remember to investigate the next time I’m in front of an internet connection. My dream is that one day they’ll make a laptop that you could strap on, like a bulletproof vest, and carry around with you everywhere, so that I could have Google on my chest.

“Whatever happened to fish and chips?” I ask George, scrawling into my notebook. “I thought that was the English meal. And how did it catch on? I mean, curry? Well, England did colonize East India.”

“Well look at tea,” George points out. “From China, but it’s the most English of drinks.”

“S’true,” I climb back into bed. “Still want poutine?”

“I wish there was a place that delivered breakfast,” George says.

I frown. “That’s right. There isn’t really a place that delivers breakfast, like, to your door. But I guess the logistics of something like that would be really difficult. I mean, eggs and bacon are so delicate. You have to eat them right away.”

“It’d be great to get breakfast in bed, though.”

“All this talk,” I say. “I’m super-hungry now. Well – do you want to order, or do you want to go out?” I get up again and grab my pile of menus, tossing them to George before I leap back into bed.

She opens one up and we gaze upon the selection.

“We’re so lazy,” George says.

“These are the freedoms we enjoy as North Americans,” I say, half-joking. “This is why everyone’s getting killed overseas. So we can order fish ‘n chips on Sunday afternoons.”

The Hipless Boy appears Mondays. The book referred to in this column is Evan Wright’s Generation Kill. Incidentally, the best french fries he ever had was at this jazz bar in Montreal called Upstairs. The ironic thing about the bar is that it’s actually down some stairs, slightly below street level. The fries were so good, condiments actually interfered with them. But that was a few years ago. Email comments and questions to