An illustration of a caramel sweet in its wrapper.

Bits Of Caramel

[A YOUNG MAN WALKS DOWN THE AISLE OF A LARGE COMMERCIAL SUPERMARKET. REACHING THE END OF IT, HE STOPS TO LOOK AT THE YOGHURTS IN THE REFRIGERATED SECTION. THERE ARE SO MANY BRANDS TO CHOOSE FROM. HE SCRATCHES HIS CHIN.]

WOMAN: Hello, would you like a caramel?

[THE MAN TURNS AROUND TO SEE YOU A YOUNG WOMAN STANDING AT A SMALL MAKESHIFT COUNTER, SELLING SAMPLES OF CARAMELS IN CELLOPHANE WRAPPERS ON A LARGE PLASTIC PLATTER. SHE IS GORGEOUS AND BEAMS A PERFECT SMILE. IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE ANYONE WOULD EVER REJECT HER.]

MAN [POLITELY]: No thanks.

[THE MAN TURNS BACK TO THE YOGHURT. HE STILL CAN’T MAKE A DECISION.]

WOMAN: They’re free.

MAN: No thanks.

WOMAN: Completely free.

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Do you not feel like a caramel?

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Why?

MAN: I don’t want a caramel.

WOMAN: Do you not like caramel?

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Go on. Have one. [WHISPERING] You know what, I’ll let you have two. They’re free.

MAN: No.

WOMAN: I promise I won’t tell.

MAN: No, thank you.

WOMAN: Come on, just one little caramel? One itsy-bitsy caramel? They’re really good. Everyone’s been saying how good they are. Really, this is the best caramel ever. I was skeptical at first but then I had one and I was like, this is the best caramel EV-UH! Just try it.

MAN [STILL POLITE]: No. Really. No.

[HE CONCENTRATES HARD ON THE YOGHURTS YET AGAIN.]

WOMAN: Just one though?

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Look, I’ve unwrapped one. Looks a bit like fudge doesn’t it? [DOING A SILLY VOICE TO PORTRAY THE CARAMEL] But I’m not fudge. I’m a caramel. I’m the best caramel you’ll ever have. Go on.

MAN [STILL POLITE]: Please, no.

WOMAN: Free samples.

MAN: [FINALLY HE SNAPS, STERN] NO. THANK. YOU.

FADE OUT.

 

FADE IN.

[A POLICEMAN AS WELL AS A RATHER TUBBY OLD MAN WEARING A WHITE SHIRT WITH A NAME TAG SAYING “MANAGER”, STAND NEXT TO THE YOUNG MAN WHO IS NOW SITTING ON THE EDGE OF THE DAIRY SECTION WITH HIS HEAD IN HIS HANDS. A FEW CURIOUS SHOPPERS STOP AND STARE.]

POLICEMAN: The young lady is quite upset.

MAN: All I said was I don’t want a caramel.

[THE POLICEMAN TAKES HIS HAT OFF AND SCRATCHES HIS HEAD. HE LOOKS AT THE MANAGER WHO LOOKS BACK AT HIM AND SHAKES HIS HEAD AS IF TO SAY, “SOME PEOPLE”.]

POLICEMAN: Are you aware that the caramel is free?

MAN: I don’t want a caramel.

POLICEMAN: Why?

MAN: I just don’t want a caramel.

POLICEMAN: You don’t like caramel?

MAN: I don’t want one.

POLICEMAN: I’m not following your drift here, mate. Sounds to me like you like caramel. Listen, how about you just take one of the caramels? Be done with it. Obviously the young lady is quite upset. She wants you to take a caramel.

MAN: Am I under arrest?

POLICEMAN: No.

MAN: Then I’m free to go?

[THE POLICEMAN PUTS HIS HANDS ON HIS HIPS. IT SEEMS HE HAS NO INTENTION OF LETTING THE YOUNG MAN GO.

POLICEMAN: What is it about caramel that you don’t like?

MAN: I like caramel.

POLICEMAN: Aha, you’re on a diet.

MAN: No.

POLICEMAN: Then take a caramel.

MAN: No.

POLICEMAN: It’s free.

WOMAN: [WAVING HER ARMS EMPATHICALLY] He just refuses to take a caramel! [SHE KNOCKS OVER HER PLATTER OF SAMPLES AND STARTS TO PICK THEM UP, CRYING] I tried. I’m no good at anything. Mother told me I was no good. She was right. All these years she was right! I’m hopeless! I’ll never amount to anything! [PEOPLE STOP TO HELP OUT. A CROWD IS GATHERING.]

POLICEMAN: I have half a mind to call this a public disturbance.

MAN: Please don’t.

POLICEMAN: Take a caramel.

MAN: No.

POLICEMAN: [SIGHING] Then tell us WHY.

[A BIGGER CROWD HAS NOW GATHERED.]

CROWD MEMBER #1: Go on son, take a caramel.

CROWD MEMBER #2: Come on lad, don’t be difficult.

CROWD MEMBER #3: Take a caramel will ye!

CROWD MEMBER #4: Look what you’ve done to this pretty young girl!

CROWD MEMBER #5: Some people.

CROWD MEMBER #6: The nerve!

POLICEMAN: Look, just take a caramel. Take it home. You don’t have to eat it here. Just take one. You’re causing a scene.

[THE CRYING WOMAN AGAIN LOOKS AT THE MAN HELPLESSLY, WITH THE PLATTER OF CARAMELS BACK IN HER HANDS, AS IF PLEADING FOR HIM TO FINALLY TAKE ONE.]

MAN [FLIPPING OUT]: NO. I WON’T TAKE A SINGLE BLASTED CARAMEL! SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR. IF IT’S NOT CANDY, IT’S THE CONFECTIONARY OF THE MIND, IT’S TELEVISON SOAPS, AND GOSSIP MAGAZINES. I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF IT! YES, I LIKE CARAMEL! I LOVE CARAMEL! I BLOODY LOVE IT! I LOVE IT I DO! I LOVE IT SO MUCH I’D EAT IT ALL DAY. I’D POUR IT ALL OVER MY BITS IF I COULD AND MAKE SWEET LOVE TO IT. BUT I DON’T WANT CARAMEL! I DON’T WANT YOUR STUFF ANYMORE! I DON’T WANT YOUR THINGS CLOGGING UP MY BRAIN AND CLOGGING UP MY LIFE! I’M A MAN! I’M A MAN WITH FEELINGS, WITH AN IDENTITY, WITH A PURPOSE. I’M A MAN WHO REFUSES TO BE DISTRACTED BY YOUR STUFF, STUFF, STUFF! I’M A MAN WHO REFUSES TO BE BOUGHT BY YOUR BRANDS AND YOUR COMMERCE AND YOUR ADVERTISING GIMMICKS, YOUR CUTE LITTLE PICTURES OF COWS ON CHEESES, AND TWO-FOR-ONES, AND OLYMPIC MASCOTS ON CEREAL PACKETS. I WANT TO LIVE FREE OF CORPORATE MANIPULATION! I MEAN, HAVEN’T WE LOST THE WAY? [HE GETS UP ON THE EDGE MILK SECTION TO STAND TALL ABOVE THE NOW MASSIVE CROWD] WHAT HAS THE WORLD REALLY COME TO, WHERE A MAN CANNOT WALK INTO A SUPERMARKET WITHOUT BEING BADGERED ABOUT WHY HE DOESN’T WANT SOMETHING? A CARAMEL! WHEN WILL YOU REALISE THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU LIKE SOMETHING DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO WANT IT. I DON’T NEED CARAMEL AND I DON’T WANT CARAMEL! I WANT TRUTH. I WANT PEACE AND TRANQUILITY AND PEACE OF MIND. I WANT A LOVE OF LIFE AND NOT A MINUTE SPENT FEARING DEATH. I WANT MOMENTS. I WANT BEAUTY. I WANT FAMILY AND FRIENDSHIP AND COMMUNITY. I WANT HEART. I WANT LOVE. I WANT ESSENCE. I WANT SPIRIT. WHAT IS IT ABOUT A MAN’S INTEGRITY THAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND? WHY, WHEN A PERSON CREATES SOME SPACE IN HIS LIFE, SOME BREATHING SPACE FOR JUST ONE MOMENT, SOME SPACE TO ACTUALLY BE FREE, DO YOU SEEK TO FILL IT WITH STUFF? NO, LIFE IS MORE THAN SOME TETRIS GAME AND I AM MORE THAN THE SUM OF MY BITS. TASTY CARAMEL OR NOT. I DON’T WANT YOUR CARAMELS. I REJECT YOUR CARAMELS! I WILL LIVE A LIFE WITHOUT YOUR CARAMELS. FREE FROM THE TYRANNY OF CONFECTIONARY AND MASS CONSUMPTION. HERE AND NOW I MAKE A STAND! WHO’S WITH ME?! BREAK FREE! BREAK FREE ALL YOU WHO SEE SOME SENSE IN MY WORDS! LEAVE THIS CULT OF STUFF WHILE YOU CAN! AND WE WILL START A NEW WORLD WHERE WE WILL LOVE AND RESPECT ONE ANOTHER! A NEW WORLD WHERE WE WILL FINALLY BE WHOLE AGAIN! ELSE LET ME BE. AND I SHALL WALK THIS LONELY PATH ALONE.

POLICEMAN: Alright, alright, no need to get emotional.

[THE CROWD SLOWLY DISPERSES.]

CROWD MEMBER #3: You’d pour caramel over your bits mate?

CROWD MEMBER #4: What a wanker.

[DEJECTED, THE MAN JUMPS OFF THE DAIRY SECTION AND PICKS UP A STRAY CARAMEL THAT WAS NOT PICKED UP FROM BEFORE. IT’S THE ONE THE YOUNG WOMAN UNWRAPPED. HE PUTS IT IN HIS MOUTH. HE RAISES AN EYEBROW. IT SEEMS IT’S PRETTY GOOD AFTER ALL.

WOMAN [DISDAIN]: Gross.

THE END.

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