A Taste of Jam and the Lower-Leg (repub.)
“Imagine the amazing good fortune of the generation that gets to see the end of the world. This is as marvellous as being there in the beginning.” ~ Jean Baudrillard
Should we ever find ourselves in the midsts of what seems to be an increasingly popular cinematic post-apocalyptic world in which father bludgeons son to death for a scrap of charred human flesh under the barbaric conditions of a horrific Battle Royale-esque survival free-for-all, I will surely welcome it.
It was Playstation’s first Resident Evil which afforded this then eight-year-old Nintendo enthusiast his first lesson of what a kill or be killed world would truly be like. In Super Mario 64, the most threatening scenario I could expect was for a goomba to assume my complete inability to reduce it to shiitake jam, or, in nearing a state of cardiac arrest, I would have to procure a few gold coins in order to have Mario back to abusing all manners of endangered species in a display of private healthcare propaganda which, in retrospect, I’m surprised didn’t turn up in Michael Moore’s Sicko.
Resident Evil, however, forever etched into my fragile, developing mind the traumatic image of being furiously pecked to death by crows with the fervour of a feral necrophiliac at the tail ends of a PCP binge masturbating over the the corpse of a dead jigglypuff bukake’d with green zombie semen. The ferocity of those t-Virus infected creatures first scared, then intrigued, me, their single-pixel red eyes penetrating like the unavoidable stare of an overzealous Christian. I learnt that day that if I ever found myself under such conditions, if I did not kill, I would not only die but leave a horribly mutilated corpse. Possibly bukake’d in green zombie-semen. In Resident Evil there was no comical exclamation of ‘mamma mia!’ whilst I was kicked back out of a painting with a complete set of limbs. When I died in Resident Evil, not only did I die but just in case I didn’t realise that I was dead (despite the 8 Bit sound effects of blood spurting under the released pressure of a zombie-mouth-sized gaping wound) the game would conveniently inform me, almost in the manner of a blasé afterthought, that, yes, in fact
So from late 1996 onward I began to ask myself the question. And I mean seriously, ask myself the question: did I – an eight year old boy of south-east Asian heritage who once shit his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turltle y-fronts when a small dog (which turned out to be a large cat) pounced at him from underneath a fairground pikey’s caravan, and whose diet consisted of rice with fish-head soup, bourbon and digestive biscuits and microwaved Lidl cheese and onion pasties – possibly muster the courage to take a meat cleaver from the remains of a decapitated conger eel in the kitchen and hack my way into another human body, albeit riddled with the infamous flesh-hungering t-Virus?
So I had made the decision, and it was one I would adhere to for the rest of my life. I had absolutely no moral issue with killing zombies, whether they be animal or human. And if I were to find a Beretta 9mm in the possession of a dead (or dying) police officer, I would sure as hell make an effort to work out the mechanics of the thing on the dead (or dying) body, in order that I be prepared for the recoil when shit hit the fan. Whilst the nimble fingers of eight year old hands are perfect for handling the small parts of cheap electronics in Chinese sweatshops and polishing the insides of said Beretta 9mm shells before assembly, they do tend to harbour an inability to withstand the recoil of the U.S. Army’s preferred handgun of choice, without adequate practice.
The ease of this decision to submit my morals to the violence of a man-eat-man world, should it occur, somewhat surprised me. Only a few weeks earlier I had accidentally killed a pet gerbil having trod on its head whilst chasing it around the front room, much in the manner of a goomba-turned jam in Mario 64 (oh how video game violence scrambles fragile little minds). My guilt was so severe that I felt the only way to settle my conscience was to kill the three other adult gerbils and their twelve babies.
Earlier in the week I had learnt from C. S. Forester’s popular nautical drama ‘Hornblower’ of rats which died as fore-warning of the bubonic plague. I thought to myself, ‘that will do fine’, and having lured the remaining gerbils with food into an old cafetiere I slowly filled it with cold running water, ensuring the wire-mesh plunger was set to a sufficient drowning position. As the water turned pink from the gerbils tearing ravenously at the tiny bodies of their offspring as a natural mechanism for survival, I felt justified in my new-found belief that such lives were of no more worth than a single-pixel red-eyed t-Virus infected crow. Returning the sodden bodies back to their cage, I would suggest to my parents that a sweeping bubonic illness had taken them unawares, much in the manner of C. S. Forester’s popular nautical drama ‘Hornblower’. At which point, cleared of animal cruelty suspicions, I would take the cage into the back garden, douse it in turpentine and torch it in its entirety to dispose of the evidence and also for my own personal pleasure.
I came across Grand Theft Auto essentially by accident. I seriously don’t know how it happened or where it came from, but one landmark day in 1997 I plucked Theme Hospital from its case only to find GTA’s world of indiscriminate destruction and murder settled underneath it. I can only assume my brother stole it from a friend, quite possibly encouraged by the game itself. At first glance, the flames expelling from the rear of the word ‘Theft’ told me that it was not only okay to do so, but downright cool. I would soon learn another lesson that would ensure my survival in a post-apocalyptic era: human life, really isn’t worth that much. Not in the grand scheme of things, anyway. Not if you flavour such killings with the spice of legitimate entertainment. Dead bodies are just jam on the roadside.
Having already determined that non-human life was essentially worth less than an empty packet of crisps (empty crisp packets could be grilled to make miniature crisp packets which, whilst entertaining, is also educational and creative) I felt ready to undo the years of damage from passively assumed morals regarding the value of other human life. I knew my training was proving fruitful when I found myself waking regularly at midnight in withdrawal-induced sweats willing to wait the four and a half hours it took for my 633MHz Windows ’95 Packard Bell PC to start in order that I might hunt down a group of Hare Krishna followers to turn into pavement jam.
I think jam would be an extremely underrated post-apocalypse food supply. You probably wouldn’t think that the first thing on your mind when holding up in the remains of an old tool-shed in the long-deserted countryside, waking up in the middle of the night starving would be ‘fuck me I could really do with some jam right now’. You would probably expect to be salivating for a steak or some other sauce-drenched fleshy carcass. Or the grass bucket from a Flymo lawnmower or a fresh shiitake goomba, if you’re vegetarian. But jam is a seriously practical post-apocalyptic food. For one, it can last for years if kept properly sealed. You can trade it with someone for something more substantial such as a human leg or foot. Fresh, salted or pickled, it wouldn’t really matter. As a simple carbohydrate, it is also a perfect form of nourishment after chasing down other survivors to either eat or trade back for more jam. Or, as a post-workout snack after a day of running away from zombies. That’s assuming they’re the modern-type zombies who really haven’t got time to hang around, what with the McDonaldized fast-food world we live in. I hold the firm belief that jam and human legs will be the future universal currency. I advise you to start your stockpiles and begin forex trading immediately.
I think television, video games and films have prepared me well enough. Human life will eventually die out, whether by natural disaster or an industrially manufactured blood-borne virus with the ability to reanimate both human and gerbil corpses. I, for one, have no qualms about being one of the last people left on earth. In fact, I would be willing to hunt down any other survivors to damn well ensure that I was the last person on earth so that other zombies could feast on their corpses and re-animate them, so that I could kill the bastards all over again. For my own personal pleasure. You can’t eat zombie corpses.
“You, you cunt. I’ll cut you first.”
That would be my motto. Horrible slashing bastard.
As a practical person, as well as stockpiling jam, I find it simply unreasonable to consider eating another person a either a-moralistic or unhealthy. If anything, having eaten so many dead animals in my life, I would feel like a hypocrite if I turned down a piece of skewered baby foot. Or a lower-leg, by recommendation.
Once, in a state of dire hunger in Amsterdam, suffering the munchies of a tourist fresh out of Central Station, I asked a friend whilst we were on the tram ‘what part of a person would you eat first?’ We debated for a while. When the tram stopped, a rather large American fella (cliché exists because it is often entirely true) opposite us made for the door next to where we had been sitting. Before taking his exit he turned, glanced left to right, and advised in a low whisper
“I hear the lower-leg is most tender.”
I studied this man for a moment. And then it dawned on me. I would not be the only person out people hunting and stockpiling jam should nuclear war encourage an inter-species feasting. Before he could leave, I took upon it myself to offer him a home-made jar under the guise of a peace offering. I could potentially use this man who had done so well to stay over-fed in a modern western world where food was so scarce. But he just stared. He really was a horrible apocalypse wishing bastard, just like myself. “Take the jam”, I insisted, ‘”I’ll only offer it once.” He eventually took the jar with a sly, knowing wink. So now he was buttered up, I told myself. What a beautifully adequate metaphor.
Turning a barn-door sized back against me and waddling toward the nearest brothel, fist already deep into the jar in anticipation of a well spent 40Euros, I whispered just loud enough for him to hear:
“You, you cunt. I’ll cut you first.”