by Eric J. Brinling
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.