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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

EAT ME! (Pardon my bad taste)

Published: February 9, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

I hadnt told the story to anyone before that Shabbes dinner at the Chabad house. Sometimes theres nothing like a festive, civilized meal to provide the occasion for a sordid tale of savagery. It all started when the first-timers among us were asked to answer the following question:

Suppose you are a cannibal. Youre feeling real hungry one night when some random stranger appears at your door. Just what would this poor soul need to say to convince you not to eat him?

The question was posed before the meal, so it strikes me as no small wonder that we were able to eat at all after contemplating the subject. But somehow we emerged with appetites intact, and then proceeded to tuck into a sumptuous supper of beef brisket I think. (Oops, better not go there.)

So anyway, peoples answers to the bizarre question started off pretty much as youd expect: Hob oyf mir rakhmones! (That means Have mercy on me, but if you say it in Yiddish, it sounds more profound.) And Im there thinking, Sure, that ought to work NOT.

Others answered, Dont eat me;

Im treyf! Yes, of course. As if being not Kosher is going to matter to a cannibal;

even a Jewish one. How about I dont taste good (And Im, like, Yeah, right.)

When was the last time somebodys words actually changed our minds? (Doesnt happen too often, does it?) I like to think Im open-minded, but youd be hard-pressed to reason with me if I were a hungry cannibal.

So when my turn came to answer, I couldnt help but recall the same sense of futility I had had one fateful night when I knocked at the wrong dorm room. Rumor has it that it had once been one of the infamous unnatural triples that had since become a single after one of its occupants had taken to eating the other two.

Part of me is inclined to sympathize, since Id been an undergrad in LA and spent my first year without a car. Late nights had been unbearable with the city air so alive with the lure of bean-and-cheese burritos, chili-fries, and every conceivable delicacy that kept drive-ins hopping all night long. They were all out there, but so out of reach. Id never imagined collegiate hunger could get more hopeless until I came to good old Waltham. Oy.

Now, standing in the doorway of a most unnatural single, gazing into the ravenous eyes of a fellow student-turned-treyf-maneater, I understood why Brandeis is deserted after midnight:

Theres nothing to eat in Waltham except you. Gulp.

Oops! Wrong room, I said. Sorry. He was already salivating;

better think fast. Say, dont I know you from Jewish-Arab Dialogue? No, wait: Positive Foundations? I saw his arm reaching for a big fork. Dude! Gospel choir! Er, guess not

Say, I blurted out. Im a cannibal too! As close to a savage as you can get. I can say Ooga-booga in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and Aramaic. Yeah, Im bout hungry enough to eat anyone right now. Kosher midyears have been mad tough to catch this season er, yup. Mad tough.

Ill confess, I was ready to try the old standby line, Have mercy, but my Yiddish wasnt good enough. Light was glinting off the fork prongs as the sketchy econ major lifted his death-implement ever higher…

Thats when insight hit: Say, wed both catch more fresh students by teaming up. You fancy Ziv or North tonight? Yo, cmon, itll work! What you got an appetite for? Posse 9 looks mighty tasty. And wholl notice if a random A cappella group goes missing? I think I saw VoiceMale down the path a minute ago;

lets get em!

So maybe it was sounding lame. But then the most brilliant idea overcame me: Be like the administration and rationalize it! Dude! What if we, like, made it a service to the community at the same time? He stared at me, drooling, as I paused for dramatic effect before announcing our chosen scapegoat:


(Its all good, Jordan;

I dont mean you. After all, were both with The Hoot. Eating you would make me a walking conflict of interest, and it hurts to be singled out for accusation. Anyone getting this?)

Anyway, the sketchmeister looked like he was starting to believe me. How about I go back and get my spear while you load up that blowgun in the closet, and well meet outside Massell in five minutes. Well pretend its, like, Central Park and were goin out wilding. Soooo chill! People-eaters rock;


The macabre Shabbes tale must have seemed, well, more than a bit of sacrilege, as stunned faces started poking around the corner from the next room. But the point wasnt lost on anybody, because I was the proof: Id gotten away and lived to tell the story.

Alright, so I wasnt fooling you. Or them. But indeed we are all living proof, for our people have endured and prevailed in much this way. With quick wit and calm heads have generations managed to survive throughout the millennia, whenever the depraved have sought to make us scapegoats and the savage have tried to do us harm.

From Horseradish (to ALL) with love: Gut Shabbes, Brandeis! Save some brisket for me.