Cannibals November 19, 2005
About two years ago, I moved into a new office. One of the extant occupants of the office at the time had his wife visiting. They took a sudden interest in my nationality, and after a few side-channel communications, the office mate made it known to me that his wife wanted to ask me a question. Go ahead, I said. “Do you eat people ?” Huh. Now I’m a cannibal.
My answer was no.
She had a follow up: “Or is it because I am skinny, maybe they wouldn’t like to eat me because I’m skinny”. I shook my head and continued reading about the π–calculus or something similar I had my head buried in at the time.
On another occasion, I’m at a musuem where I used to volunteer several hours each week. A patron enters the museum, and I begin to give them the spiel. They seem a bit taken aback, as though they had just heard a rabbit in a green bunny suit with a bib speaking fluent Dutch. I ignore their suprise. Happens all the time. Then they ask “where are you from”. I notice the priests collar, and I think “This is a man of God, if I lie to him, I might go to Hell”. Hmmm… “New Jersey” I tell him. “Oh,”, he says, “a good friend of mine sounds just like you, he went to school in England but he is originally from … . He used to tell me how he could see the top of mount Kilimanjaro from his hut every morning when he woke up. Is that true ?” Hmmm, I have seen huts, but have never slept in one, and have never seen any piece of rock bigger than mount Rainier in Washington state. Furthermore (and probably besides the point from some points of view), I had no idea who his friend was, so I could not say anything authoritative about whether his friend was a liar or not, and it would probably be better if I didn’t, because then his friend might go to Hell too, and would be pretty pissed off at me if I ended up there too. Imagine the agression. “You bastard! you ratted me out, I’ll.. I’ll…”.. Anyway, I just shook my head at the priest and told him I was sure his friend had a lot of fun as a child, and a great view of great mountains, but as to the validity or truth value, or any commentary about mountains which I have never seen, but which I must apparently be an authority on, I could not make any authoritative statements. Huh. I was shaking my head, and in my head I was thinking of myself watching myself think of shaking my head. He then asked me “What is your name ?”. Huh ? “Phillip Stanley-Marbell” I answer. At this point, I’m watching myself think about what life would be on a planet where one must perpetually shake one’s head in order to generate necessary acceleration to keep one’s brain from emission out of one’s cranial perforations. He then asks me to kindly write my full name on the visitors guide I had handed to him a few moments prior, thanks me, and enters the museum.