Hunger

(Madame Butterfly, The Touhill Performing Arts Center)

I have come here for art; paupers deserve to have our souls nourished by beauty too. In fact, I'd argue that the hungry especially appreciate beauty — there's nothing else satiating the spirit or dulling the senses.

Next to me, some well-dressed people converse. I can smell their wealth. It's an aftershave, a deodorant, a breath mint. If only I could figure out a clever way to hit them up for a little cash. Surely they're good for it.

Tonight's performance being Madame Butterfly, their conversation turns to contemporary Japan. And what are the social conditions of Japan today? Oh, they work much harder for much less than we do here! They are unhappy, those Japanese. They have a hard time understanding how happy we are here in America. How could Americans be so happy? It seems impossible to them, that kind of happiness! Sinful!

"Sir, you are American?" I imagine them asking me. "Can you believe how happy you are?" My hungry brain formulates its imaginary reply: "Indeed! If happiness is hunger, than I am very, very happy! There is so little room for anything else; only happiness, joy, bliss!" Then I would inquire about the money: "Perhaps to buy something to eat. If not, then may I nibble on your arm, your thigh? May I gnaw on you the way you've been gnawing on my brain?"

And all the while that breezy stench, simultaneously attractive and repulsive.

 
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