To Serve Man

October 8, 2004

When I was about four years old a couple of older boys next door told me they were going to kill me, grill me, and eat me for supper. Now you’re probably thinking, "Well that explains a lot," but only because it’s me. If it were someone else you might think, "What a terrible thing to tell a child." Maybe both thoughts occurred to you, but it’s okay. I wasn’t scared. There were worse things under my bed that I somehow managed to face down every single night. If they wanted to play Donner Party they were going to have to find someone else. I probably scared them more than they scared me because I laughed in their faces. The idea of me stretched out on their dining room table with their doddering grandmother taking a bite out of my foot struck me as funny. Let’s face it: cannibalism IS funny. Maybe I think that because of my encounter with the neighborhood Leopold and Loeb, but I’m not the one who made up all all those jokes about Jeffrey Dahmer coming to dinner parties with lady fingers and Baked Alaskan. And I know I’m not the only one who laughed when Idi Amin claimed he wasn’t a cannibal by saying, "I’d never eat human meat. It’s too salty." At least I hope I’m not.

You’ve got to admit that jokes about cannibalism are better than the real thing, or even accusing groups of the real thing. Every group from the Celts to the Catholics has been accused of cannibalism, but outside of the Amazon rain forest and places like Easter Island–because nothing makes you want to take a bite out of your neighbor like carving some giant heads–very few cultures actually made cannibalism a regular practice. For instance my neighbors reserved it for the holidays, since it was a good way to get rid of in-laws. In fact the word "cannibal" is derived from "caribe". How do they get "cann" from "car"? Pretty much the same way names like "William" or "Richard" are shortened to "Bill" or "Dick". The Caribes were a group of supposed cannibals who Spanish explorers talked about, probably to scare away other explorers. They also gave the Caribbean its name, so the next time you’re at a Jamaican restaurant and they offer you barbecued jerk, you’ll know why Wally from accounting never came back from his trip to the Bahamas. You could say he "met an old friend for dinner", but as we all know Wally doesn’t have any friends.

But I digress. In conclusion I’d like to say that if you’re one of those people–usually described as "normal" or "mentally stable" who finds cannibalism completely unfunny and revolting, congratulations on getting this far without vomiting. Next week I’ll cover some less disgusting topic. Specifically it will be the long and illustrious history of vomiting, complete with diagrams, diaphragms, and some completely unrelated "Mad Libs" I did when I was twelve.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


This year, before you pick a Halloween costume, you’ll need to consider whether it’s appropriate or not. You may feel your costume is creative, but in these politically correct times, you need to take the feelings of others into account. These formerly popular costumes have now been deemed politically incorrect.

Raggedy Ann. This costume clearly objectifies women.

Werewolf. Offensive to animal advocates and those with male-pattern baldness.

Cave man. The proper term should be "evolutionally challenged"; "man" is overtly sexist; also insulting to those in loincloths.

Cop. Authority figures should not be ridiculed.

Grim Reaper. Trivializes death; may also encourage children to use scythes without the necessary supervision.

Napoleon. Offends the French. (In much the same way deodorant does.)

Frankenstein’s Monster. Pokes fun at those with psychological or emotional problems, as well as those with identity crises.

Bride of Frankenstein. Extremely offensive to women¯they should not be known by, or valued more, merely because of their husbands.

Skeleton. Exhibits an insensitivity toward those with eating disorders.

Angel. Mocks religion and the religious.

Hunchback of Notre Dame. Ridicules those with physical deformities, as well as those suffering from "ligyrophobia," a fear of noise.

Dracula. Endorses the irresponsible practice of transmitting bodily fluids.

Sigmund Freud. Insults those with the lifelong opinion that a cigar is just a cigar.

Flapper. Demeaning to women and tassel salesmen.

Gladiator. Insensitive to cross-dressers.

Cowboy. Encourages violence, cruelty to animals and spontaneous "whooping."

Mafioso (mobster, "wise guy"). Unfairly stereotypes Italian-Americans. OK, actually, fairly stereotypes Italian-Americans, but it’s still stereotyping.

Tarzan. Condones mistreatment of minorities and animals. Again, hurtful to those in loincloths.

Ghost. Glorifies the occult.

Witch. Religious persecution. Also pertains to warlocks, Gnostics, conjurers, chiromancers, shamans and Druids.

Leprechaun. Shows contempt for the Irish-American community, as well as the diminutive.

Presidents. Encourages scorn and contempt for authority figures, at least half of whom have no criminal record whatsoever. (See also "Cop.")

Characters from Star Wars. Offensive to Star Trek fans.

Characters from Star Trek. Offensive to Star Wars fans.

Mummy. Offends Egyptians, embalmers and the undead.

Genie. Objectifies women; subjects those who may be "buxom challenged" to ridicule. (Note: Same applies to wenches.)

Pirate. Distasteful to those with hooks for hands and the vision impaired (wearers of eye patches), not to mention parrot owners.

Zombie. Disrespectful of the dead.

Princess. Contributes to myth that women must be "rescued" to live happily ever after (same goes for Snow White); also insulting to certain Jewish-Americans.

Gorilla. Condescending to our friends in the wild kingdom.

Medusa. Exploits animals; sends the wrong message to young girls by implying women are defined by their physical appearance.

Gumby. Ridicules those with disfigurements (especially of the head).

Knight. Offensive to dragons, I imagine.

Baby. Promotes a lack of respect for youth, human life and those who drool voluminously.

Biblical Figures. Religion is no laughing matter, except for that part about Noah fitting four million species of animals onto one boat.

Ballerina. Cruelly mocks the short, not to mention the waif-like.

Indian. Native-Americans have been oppressed, slaughtered and persecuted¯imitation buckskin and feathers are the final insult.

Devil. Affront to demons and those currently possessed by demons; Satanists are people, too, all right?

Sports Figures. Belittles our heroes.

Convict/Prisoner. See "Sports Figures"¯the groups often seem to overlap.

Fairy. Offensive to interior designers and choreographers. (Note: The same guideline applies to sprites and pixies.)

Priest. The Catholic church has enough to worry about without being the butt of jokes (if you’ll pardon the expression).

Bandito. Racial stereotype; subtly condones handlebar mustaches.

Headless Horseman. Blatantly sexist; wrongfully pigeonholes equestrians; also involves another physical deformity¯offensive to amputees and the headless.

Viking. Endorses razing; in addition, glorifies pillaging and ravishing.

Porky Pig. Insensitive to members of the Jewish-American community (as well as members of Weight Watchers).

Klingon. Unjustly hurtful to illegal, as well as resident, aliens. (See also "Characters from Star Trek.")

Hobo. Derides the economically and hygienically disadvantaged.

Professional wrestlers. Offensive to just about everybody. (See also "Sports Figures.")

Mermaid. Slights women and aquatic life simultaneously.

Daffy Duck. Unkind to those with speech impediments. (Same goes for Elmer Fudd and Barbara Walters.)

Phantom of the Opera. Unfeeling toward those with physical malformations; shows contempt for those committed to ridding the civilized world of musicals.

Ninja. Perpetuates stereotype of Asians; also promotes "lurking."

Albert Einstein. Insulting to those who have a problem comprehending the particle nature of light.

Chinaman. Sexist; racist; upsetting to immigrants and honor students.

Clown. Deeply offensive to Mezzetino, Arlecchino, Pantalone, and Geraldo Rivera.

Aunt Jemima. Racially inflammatory; serves to exacerbate the already incendiary "pancake vs. waffle" debate.

Robin Hood/Merry Men. Suggests an intolerance for those with alternative lifestyles.

Aside from those costumes, you should be just fine. Get out there and enjoy your Halloween! Oh, and don’t use the phrase "trick or treat." Hookers are people, too.

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