I have been on the email list for the Cannibal Club at the University of Pittsburgh (formerly known as the Pitt Cannibal Club) for a couple of years now, but before this week I have never attended a meeting. I don’t know, maybe I’m just not enthralled by their powerpoint presentations on the nutritional value of the human liver, or their Hungry Hungry Humans game nights, or even their human charcuterie socials, but I never felt compelled to go to one of their events. That is, until this past Friday, of course.
For some background, I’ve always been a huge Parrothead. I know all of Jimmy Buffett’s songs: “Margaritaville”, “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, that one about the pirate… the other one about… tropical living…
Anyway, it really caught my eye when the latest email from the Cannibal Club claimed that Jimmy Buffett would be the next “special guest” (which, of course, is cannibal terminology for “main dish”). Never one to pass up an opportunity to eat my idols, I immediately resolved to attend.
The meeting was held in the Cathedral of Learning’s secret negative fifth floor, the level below the sub-sub-sub-sub-basement. The Cannibal Club – sharing the floor with only one other club, the Necrophiliac Society – meets in the floor’s largest room, a lecture hall-sized space with no windows, chairs, tables or floors. All there is beneath one’s feet in that room is dirt, crawling with bugs and worms. In that sense it’s not unlike the Cathedral’s second floor.
I was standing around in a small crowd of veteran cannibals and curious (and hungry) Parrotheads when Jimmy Buffett – the son of a son of a sailor himself – was rolled in, tied to a sterile table. Forks and knives were handed out by the Cannibal Club officers. One girl requested a spoon, I dared not ask why. We all stood in eager anticipation as the president, an odd man with a cannibalistic gaze, prepared to make the first cut into the country-calypso celebrity.
Just then, Jimmy’s eyes opened. He was not yet dead! Immediately the president asked who it was that checked to make sure he was dead. From the meek and feminine voice I heard quietly squeak an apology behind me, I knew a woman was to blame, but Jimmy said from the table that it was nobody’s fault. In any case, the problem was swiftly dealt with.
As soon as the president carefully cut a cube of meat from Jimmy’s thigh, put it tenderly upon his tongue, chewed it skeptically before finally swallowing it and declaring it good, the club erupted into a frenzy, as each member frantically ripped Jimmy’s corpse apart and devoured what they could. Being new to the whole cannibal enterprise, I lucked out by getting his left hand and forearm. I bit into it, surprised to find it about as juicy as a grapefruit, which is of course an exceptionally juicy fruit.
I was making my way up the forearm when my teeth hit metal. How had I not realized he was wearing a watch? I removed it, glancing briefly at the time. It was five o’clock somewhere. I continued in my gluttony.
Elsewhere, the Cannibal Club was making quick work of poor Jimmy. There was some sort of peanut butter conspiracy down by the toes, as one guy had brought a jar of the smooth stuff and they were dipping the little piggies in it like pita chips in hummus. Another guy, who had ripped a chunk from Jimmy’s shoulder, was unsatisfied with the taste and searched desperately for his lost shaker of salt. Others came far more prepared: one, who I am told had previously attempted to amend his carnivorous habits, brought lettuce, tomato, Heinz 57, French fried potatoes, a big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer, which I was surprised he was able to sneak into the Cathedral. One kid, dressed as a pirate for the occasion, got the worst of it, and looked at forty short strands of grey hair from Jimmy’s balding head, all he was able to grab.
I left the meeting feeling… content. I was unsure whether this was because I got exactly what was promised me – the meat of Jimmy Buffett – or whether that was the effect of consuming this particular individual. I passed up the chance to smoke some coral reefer with the other cannibals, and instead pondered this question as I made my way home. I do think I experienced some form of island escapism that night, so long as the island I escaped to was inhabited by viciously cannibalistic natives.
Let’s face it: none of us take the time to read the terms and conditions. They are far too long, and far too boring. What could even be there, right? After all, terms and conditions are written by the kindest, most selfless people on the Earth—business executives and lawyers. We read the first sentence or two, sign and accept, and things turn out fine.
Many on-campus freshmen and sophomores, such as myself, approached their Roommate Pact in a similar, responsible way—we waited for our roommate to cave and just write the whole thing for us, and maybe gave a hearty thumbs-up before we proudly signed without reading it. After all, signing pretty much makes us Pact co-writers, and co means half, so we technically did, like, half the work. For most, this standard method causes no issue.
However, one freshman, Martin Campbell (age 18), ran into trouble after blindly signing an agreement written by his Sociology Major roommate Aldous Zingmann (age 19), who decided to take things one step further. Aldous had apparently snuck a 106 page-long contract into the Roommate Pact that apparently signed Martin into indentured servitude for the rest of his life. With his signature on the page, Martin is now legally bound to do the following and more: Shine Aldous’s shoes, wash Aldous’s feet, do Aldous’s homework, sing graceful lullabies, and tell really funny knock-knock jokes upon request. Should Martin refuse, he and his family might face over “one gazillion dollars” in fines over breach of contract. (Or something like that, we didn’t really read the terms and conditions either.)
After meeting with his lawyer (age 45), Martin has commented that he “tends to be unlucky” and “wouldn’t be surprised if this happens again”. He also confirmed that since he didn’t sign under duress, he has no legal grounds to dispute the contract. Martin explained that “the roommate agreement was just so long and so boring, I’m not even sure if my lawyer read it either.” In other news, Aldous’s crocs are shinier than ever.
Yes, its true. I, the Lord, did something for the greater good. The day was Thursday the 25th of November in the year 2021. Very late that evening I was wandering past a location that was known for having lots of foot traffic. This night I noticed that there was not a lot of people wandering by, but there were a lot of people sitting on the sidewalk with tents and mobile fireplaces to keep themselves warm. I found it horrible that people would not want to be near these obviously homeless people. I understand that many people see them as dirty but having lived with literal pigs for a few years in the early 300 BCE’s I don’t see the un housed as dirty.
I approached someone near one of the edges of the group and asked if I could join them. This kind man said yes and we began talking about our lives. He said “Well, my kids are back at home but I need to get them something from the store, and as it is almost Black Friday, I felt like this would be a great time to get some good deals on presents.” I found it incredible that even in as trying of times as he and his family must be going through for him to sleep on the streets in these frigid temperatures, he was thinking of getting his children something nice for the holidays as even kids living on the streets should believe in the magic of the holidays. I was also amazed that he and his family were able to call some hard section of concrete or asphalt home. I had never heard of this so-called Black Friday, but coming from a white guy to a white guy, regardless of their living arrangements seemed a bit racist but I have been told that punching down is not a good practice. As for the gifts he planned to get good deals on, the homeless communities must have some complex and difficult for outsiders to understand bartering system.
Once the clock struck midnight instead of some fairytale style transformation for a group of homeless people and their supporters into a city of affordable housing and strong social programs, a light turned on and everyone got up. We all walked into this large warehouse like building filled to the brim with food, toys, clothes and anything else you could want in where you will be living. To my knowledge the have repurposed a warehouse that was used to sell walls at one point, they turned it into a place for the less fortunate to live. As sad as it is to see businesses go under, I am grateful to the previous owners of WalMart for going out of business because of their misfortune, hundreds have found shelter. I said goodbye to the kind man who now has a place to bring his family in from the cold. I left the new homeless shelter feeling good about myself, yes, but feeling good for the state of humanity more.