Now, first you’ve got your zombies, and of course they get all the attention these days, don’t they? All of the glory.
It used to be your vampires, but then your vampires sort of… jumped the shark. Got all glittery. It’s like what happened with KISS and with Green Day: Once the prepubescent girls start digging something, it’s only a matter of time.
And I have to say that it’s not all bad, anyway, even with the zombies getting all the press time and what have you. It is always nice to have someone to blame. Someone to keep the heat off of you.
But still, the misconceptions can pile up pretty fast and furious, and after a week like last week, feelings tend to get hurt. Egos bruised.
So now I have been chosen as the one who gets to come out of the proverbial closet and clarify a few things. I have been selected – to the extent that people like us are ever organized enough in our thoughts and our actions to speak in a single voice – to speak on behalf of the group.
We do agree on one thing, and I’ll lead with it. If you remember nothing else that I say today, remember this: DON’T CALL US CANNIBALS!
Because here’s the thing. A quick history lesson before I move on to the heart of the matter. The word “cannibal”? It comes from “Canibales” which was the Spanish word for some people in the West Indies who (you guessed it!) consumed other people. And, well, if you know anything about the 16th century Spanish Caribbean, you have already jumped far enough ahead that you know what it is that I am going to say next.
I am going to say don’t call us cannibals. I am going to say “Cannibal” is our slave name.
It’s an insult. It’s a slur. We don’t even call each other that. Not even in our hip hop songs. You can confuse us with zombies. You can confuse us with vampires. You can say that we need to be tracked down and locked away and starved where we cannot hurt anyone else. But if you have any interest in holding a serious conversation with any of us, please don’t drop the C word (I’m looking at you, New York Times!).
These days, most of us prefer to be called “homophages”. Now, this word is not without problems of its own, and if you were to point out that “anthropophage” is actually more… linguistically correct, you’d be right. But we’ve tried anthropophage – mostly as an elitist trend on the university level – and it’s never really stuck.
So homophages it is. We eat things like ourselves.
When something like the Miami story breaks, all Hell breaks loose in homophage circles. Because of the dubious legality of what it is we do, we try to keep a low profile. Pop culture starts shouting about the Zombie Apocalypse. The media starts investigating some new street drug.
But we know. How could we not know?
Look at the guy who did the eating. He is the one on the left. Now look at the guy whose face was eaten. He is the one on the right.
As a general rule of thumb, if this had been a zombie attack, the roles would have been reversed. The guy on the right would have eaten the guy on the left. Zombies don’t look like the guy on the left. Zombies have bad skin. Sometimes no skin.
And zombies don’t seek out an old homeless dude whose own family did not even know he was still alive. Zombies start gnawing on whoever is convenient. This is the reason there is no zombie underground. It is hard to be subtle in your tactics when half your brain is putrefied.
A homophage is not going to eat your mother. You can invite a homophage to your wedding reception and be reasonably certain that the guests will all leave in one piece. We even know which utensil is the salad fork and our hand will not fall off while we’re reaching for it.
Homophages perform an invaluable service to society, a service comparable to houseflies or earthworms or grubs. We only eat the folks that nobody wants, anyway. Homeless people and anarchists and atheists and boy bands. We clean out the dregs.
Here is the thing: We homophages choose to live as we live. We are not a dead, buried and then resurrected people who, through some strange, never-quite-explained infection are compelled to feast on human flesh in order to remain reanimated.
We are not zombies. We are not vampires. We are not bath salt addicts.
We are homophages. We are your mothers. Your daughters. Your neighbors. We are even your ministers and your bosses and your elected officials.
We are just people who enjoy eating other people. We chose this life and, as the Catholics say, without free will there is no merit.
We’re here. You’re dinner. Get used to it.