The Last Word
June 21, 2007
I’ve never been much of a Hugh Grant fan; maybe it’s the celebrity smugness or that I don’t care for chick flicks, every one of which seems to feature this guy. Not exactly boy scout behavior either. There was that little incident with a Hollywood hooker (which gave Jay Leno the quote of his career: “what the hell were you thinking?”) and just recently, he assaulted paparazzi trying to snap his picture, throwing a tub of baked beans at the photographer.
Of course, the media ate it up – er, so to speak – and the incident became comedy fodder. Datelinehollywood.com (which mockingly prides itself as living up to its founding motto: ‘to cover with unerring integrity that which matters least’) did a spoof headlined: Bean Farmers Burning Hugh Grant in Effigy. Excerpt from the satire:
Bean farmers around the world have risen up to protest Hugh Grant, who threw a can of baked beans at paparazzi in London. “Baked beans are a sacred vegetable to our cultures and we are deeply offended that Mr. Grant would use a food of peace as a weapon,” said Michigan bean farmer Roy Sager, who was burning two cardboard cut-outs of Grant in his front yard.
The “Four Weddings and a Funeral” star has apologized, calling his use of a baked beans can to assault a paparazzi photographer “a naive misreading of the reverence millions of farmers have for beans.” But bean farmers from the U.S. to Europe to South America have not accepted Grant’s apology. “When you pick up a can of baked beans, you have a responsibility to understand the culture where it came from,” said Brazilian bean farmer Alejandro Cunha, just after he set fire to a giant poster of “Music and Lyrics” (another Hugh Grant chick flick).
In Brazil, the world’s leading producer of beans (wow, give them credit for accuracy: Brazil is indeed the largest producer, followed by India, China, Burma, Mexico, and the U.S.) a warrant has been issued for Grant’s arrest. “Hugh Grant has offended the Brazilian people and bean farmers around the world,” said Brazil’s minister of beans Silas Costa. “We demand that the United Kingdom extradite him so that he can face justice.”
Robert St. John, a self-described author, chef, restaurateur and world-class eater, wrote in his ‘blow by bowl account’ that “it struck me as odd that a stuffy Brit such as Grant would not only have eaten baked beans but enjoyed his serving so much that he asked the restaurant for a doggie bag.” St. John also related his own aero-bean story:
“During my college years, while waiting tables in one of those brass-and-fern restaurants, I spilled an 8-ounce bouillon bowl of baked beans on a woman’s foot. I had just arrived at her table and the serving tray was still in a position high above my head. The beans fell from a height approximately 7 feet above the floor and landed upside down and squarely on her instep.
An 8-ounce bouillon bowl, filled with beans, probably approaches 1 pound. Pardon my physics, but a 1-pound bowl, falling from a height of 7 feet, traveling at a velocity of ... Well, you get the picture. The woman let out a shrill shriek and then a series of low-pitched sobs and moans.
She was wearing sandals and I stood speechless as I watched the steaming hot beans ooze through her toes. I almost lost my job because of the leguminous pedicure, but was saved by the woman’s graciousness. Her husband, on the other hand, gave me the evil eye. When I asked if I could bring his wife another side order of beans, he asked for a towel, the manager and a baked potato instead.”
David Holsted, writing for the Daily Times in north Arkansas, wondered how beans of all things could become a WMD – weapon of mass dyspepsia. Holsted wrote that “beans are for shucking, shelling, spilling, counting, mixing with cornbread, selling to foolish boys named Jack, increasing the profit sharing of the company that makes Beano and for nicknames,” but “if I’m going to use food as a weapon, I’m going to throw something like a coconut, or at the very least, a nice, ripe watermelon or a can of Spam. When is the last time you heard anyone say ‘You can have my baked beans when you pry them from my cold, dead hands’ or ‘If they outlawed baked beans, only outlaws will have baked beans?’”
“The real role models for the proper use of beans as a weapon,” Holsted writes, “are the Three Stooges. Fans of the knuckleheads will recall their classic short in which they fired beans from a cannon, a truly American use of the ammunition instead of the pansy British method of hurling them from a plastic tub.”
Holsted contemplates tongue-in-cheek what might happen next, now that the king of chick flicks has popularized baked beans as a weapon.
“Because of the irresponsible actions of some British actor, all those bleeding heart liberals are going to institute baked bean control laws. The next time you order a side of baked beans to go with your chicken; don’t be surprised if you have to wait three days while they do a background check.”