Arnon Grunberg

Cold enough

Beet salad

My godson, his mother and I were having lunch in the courtyard of Café Le Perche in Hudson, NY.
It was my first time in Hudson and the town struck me as pleasant and laidback. So was Café Le Perche, the food was good, the Sancerre was cold enough. I was halfway into my humus sandwich when my godson said: “Look, a rat.” I looked and indeed I saw a rat, an overweight rat with almost no fear of human beings. This was a monster rat. He didn’t go away, he was nibbling on the leftovers of a beet salad, or something that resembled a beet salad, which two attractive ladies had dropped shortly before the rat showed up.
I stamped with my feet, the rat ran away, but within seconds he was back. This was truly a rat with no fear.
My godson is 9 years old, but I felt that I had to protect Café le Perche and my godson’s feelings so I said: “This is probably the rat from ‘Ratatouille’ – maybe this rat loves the French cuisine.”
My godson was underwhelmed.
Then I said: “There is this beautiful story by Roald Dahl, about a rat hunter who kills rats by biting off their heads. That’s something that you should do. You are a born rat killer.”
“I don’t like molesting animals,” he answered.

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