Phrase Origins: The Sad Tale of Poor Ben O’Gratin

(An experimental tale of fiction, food and phraseology)

The Phrase:  “I’ve eaten so much I feel like I could explode!”

Eating to the point of detonation is a seemingly brilliant suggestion when the clock has struck four and you’ve neglected a proper lunch, aside from the half a Charleston Chew that you discovered at the bottom of your backpack and promptly devoured like Pac-man on pac-dots.   Poor Ben O’Gratin did exactly this, but in his case he found a Kudos bar.   The hour was four and Poor Ben O’Gratin had neglected his lunch.

The Kudos did little but turn O’Gratin into a scavenger.  Perhaps food could be found in other unlikely places?  The desk drawer? Atop the filing cabinet? No, Poor Ben O’Gratin was stuck without sustenance until dinnertime.  Tick tock. Tick tock.

We have reached the point in the story where dinnertime comes and Poor Ben O’Gratin goes to the Corner Pub.  Friday is Corner Pub night.  He will have one beer.  No more.  He will order the chicken cesar.  No croutons.  If feeling wild, the quesadilla.

So, Ben O’Gratin goes.   Sitting down to the bar, he says hello to his friend Barnaby. Barnaby is not a friend.  He is a bartender.  He calls patrons “friend,” to save himself from the confusion of names and to generate better tips.  Poor Ben O’Gratin is touched by his friend’s open declaration of companionship and simultaneously turns Poor Barnaby into a liar.  Barnaby watches the clock until he can go home to his wife and be away from the mundane details of the boozers’ lives.  Tick tock. Tick tock.

What is this Ben O’Gratin?  Ben O’Gratin orders a burger and fries (no croutons). Plus coleslaw!  It’s been the tiresome week and the clock paused too often between the ticks and the tocks.  During one instance the lull was so great that O’Gratin prepared for tock to never come.   It did.  Life went on.  Friday came.  Perhaps it was during this instance that O’Gratin considered changing his regiment.

Well, the burger arrives and the patty is so juicy, the lettuce so crisp and the ketchup is so perfectly applied that Poor Ben O’Gratin’s mouth dances.  The saliva bursts from the back of his cheeks like ceremonial waterworks.  Eyes closed, O’Gratin chews and never wants to stop.  So he doesn’t.  He had only had a Kudos.

Ordinarily, when you reach the point midway between hunger and gut breaking excess, you reexamine your stomach’s yelps and glugles.  The yelps subside.  The occasional glugle remains, but semantics is a tricky beast and as we learned in French class with Mrs.Marsh, the slight variance of intonations within each glugle can change the meaning entirely.  Like Wookies.  The inflections on these particular glurgles are, in fact, happy glugles.  They mean, “stop.”

But, as you might have heard, Poor Ben O’Gratin had neglected his lunch.   He continues to consume the burger, not wanting to joy and lack of time to end.  He forks coleslaw into his hopeless mug of a face as his stomach grows and grows until it’s as stretched all the way to next week.  That’s about as far as a stomach can go and that’s when Poor Ben O’Gratin burst.   “Goodbye friend,” said Barnaby, wiping the mess off the bar with one stroke.  The clock continued, tick tock, tick tock.



Filed under fiction

2 responses to “Phrase Origins: The Sad Tale of Poor Ben O’Gratin

  1. NIna

    Gee, I wonder if I am related to Ben O’Gratin? I must have the same DNA because I swear to God, sometimes I feel like my stomach grows and grows like poor Ben’s.(rather,poor me)

  2. kitchendoor


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