I give a little internal wince when the first exploratory questions from a friend about maternity yoga classes and favorite doulas start surfacing. This is not because I don’t like babies (or at least, not primarily), nor because I think the world is overpopulated, and each new mouth is a self-absorbed attempt to deplete the world’s resources. Rather I dislike impending pregnancies because of their photographic aftermath.
Within a few days, sometimes a few hours, and on a few rare, misguided occasions, a few minutes of the birth, my Facebook wall will be flooded with shot after shot of a baby. This will then be followed by a comment from each of the parents’ friends, all of whom will say one of two things (when boiled down to their essence).
The first is completely banal. Mazal tov! Well, yes. Congratulations on having had a baby. Of course, no one ever says anything but congratulations, because to do so would stretch the bounds of decency. But if you can only say one thing in this situation, at what point does the phrase cross over into “it goes without saying…” category and therefore really no longer even needs to be said? To preserve the validity of a heartfellt congratulations, I sometimes feel like putting completely truthful statements onto a Facebook wall, like “Congratulations! He doesn’t look nearly as much like the UPS guy as I thought he would. You might actually pull this one off after all!”
But the second frequently posted comment is the one that really unnerves me. Whenever I see a comment like “that baby looks delicious!” or “I could just eat him up!” I cross another potential babysitter off my list. Cannibalism is nothing to laugh at. Or at least, it’s not something to guffaw out loud at. Well, maybe Benji Lovitt could pull off a really funny cannibalism joke… “10 reasons Scarlett Johansson tastes better than Mahmoud Abbas. Reason number one: Less sugar.”
Call me, Benji.
But otherwise, cannibalism is strictly reserved for dark humor and sci-fi. I remember the first unrated movie I ever tried to get into, while I was a freshman in highschool. I was with a date and he asked me which movie I wanted to see. Having done my homework, I immediately piped up that I wanted to watch The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, in which the climax features an act of cannibalism that would rival the best greek tragedies. We made it all the way to the concession counter before the pimply ticket clerk ratted me out.
He told my date, “I can’t stop anybody from going in there since there’s no age limits, but I just wanted to let you know that it’s unrated because of graphic scenes depicting sex and cannibalism.”
My non-date was horrified, and insisted upon switching our tickets for something less objectionable, like The Little Mermaid, or All Dogs Go to Heaven. Sigh. So much for art.
My other brush with cannibalism in high culture was the film (spoilers) Soylent Green. Seriously, it’s been like 40 years, people. The world doesn’t revolve around you. Just go ahead and watch it, already. In the movie, the planet is horribly overpopulated by the same kinds of selfish people as my breeder friends (ha, just kidding!), and there’s barely enough food. The favorite ration is a foodstuff called Soylent Green, which is supposedly made out of plankton, but in reality “Soylent Green is people!”
I remember watching the movie for the first time, and thinking, “Wow! That’s genius.” There’s all these elderly people around, and they voluntarily agree to feed the planet with their (apparently) yummy goodness, AND they get to have an IMAX view of what the world looked like in the past, with trees and animals. Win-win! Of course, I’d want a little more out of it. Like some strawberries or something. I mean, we’re supposed to be wound up about this elderly guy becoming part of the food chain, but they’ve already shown us a woman prostituting herself for an apartment and strawberries. So, who has the more messed up priorities here, really?
While I’m not actually planning on eating anybody, I think it is important to be prepared for worst case scenarios. During the last Snowmegeddon, where a few inches of snow were threatening to take out the local infrastructure, I let slip that I had read a report on the science of cannibalism. In the study, researchers noted that one major problem was the delay before people began experimenting in the world of “in extremis” gourmet dining, resulting in lowered nutritional value due to “wastage”.
I said that in a situation with dwindling food supplies, I would want to start early, to get the most out of the available fat. Not surprisingly, I was voted “most likely to be sent away to get help in cases of emergency.” But when the going gets tough, the tough get cooking. And I say, if push comes to shove, let’s eat grandma, commas be damned.