So, I’ve been focused on finishing my book for book club this Saturday. It was a book I wanted to read, but I knew it didn’t fit with the challenge (at least for a long while), and I somehow convinced my wonderful friends to read it with me. It’s called The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown and it’s above the infamous Donner Party that found themselves trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter of 1846/47. And, of course, they are most famous for resorting to cannibalism.
This book is fascinating and meticulously researched. I’ve found myself spouting off some fun little Donner Party facts over dinner. I’ve kept the book within reach and while referencing the different families on the trail, Matt leaned over and said to me, “Did you write down ‘snowshoe cannibalized’ next to someone’s name?” Yes, indeed I did. You see, there was a group of people who set out to get provisions in snowshoes and they were the first group to get hooked on human flesh. Matt said that if he ever starts an indie/thrash band, he thinks its name is going to be ‘Snowshoe Cannibalized.’ I think it’s catchy. I’d support that band.
Anyway, Matt and I realized that many of our references for the events of the Donner Party are related to our passion for the Oregon Trail Game – an educational game popular among 1980s schoolchildren.
While we were discussing the mistakes the Donner Party made, Matt interrupted me and said, “Everyone knows you can’t leave on the Oregon Trail much after April or you’ll hit snow in the pass and most likely die.”
I responded with, “I’ve never managed to travel the Oregon Trail without someone in my wagon party dying of a snake bite. And I always ford the river instead of hiring someone…which usually ends badly as well.”
Since we grew up in Oregon, learning about the history of the Oregon Trail is a mandatory staple of primary school. And my family has been known to make unsuspecting visitors sit through the costumed historians at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center 5 minutes from my parent’s house. (I haven’t visited in over ten years, but the last time I was there I think my mom, our Japanese exchange student, and I were the only ones listening to the “pioneer” lady talk about cow pies and leaving behind her mom’s sewing machine back home in Missouri.)
The Donner Party was actually going to California…I’d like to believe that if they had just decided to go to Oregon instead then no one would have needed to eat anyone else. But while we’re on the topic of eating other people…
…I’d like to mention this (brief) story (that many of my friends have heard before) about a young man (from the UK) who I was on a date with (in Japan), who actually ENDED OUR DATE EARLY after I mentioned, somewhat in passing, about how — if circumstances necessitated — I would not be morally opposed to tasting a human being. I thought our date was going swimmingly and then, BAM, one little cannibalism comment and he was out of there. We were on a train heading to a bar in Tokyo and he actually got off the train. “Well, thank you. I believe this isn’t going to work out.” Gone.
I was emailing Matt at the time of the above-mentioned date; I remember coming home from that date and Matt was the first one I told. Who knows what would have happened if I had just kept my habit of over-sharing random information on dates quiet for a bit? Maybe my darling British would-be boyfriend could have fallen in love with me and we could have moved to York together and had beautiful little dual-citizenship children.
Maybe that happened in an alternate reality.
Doesn’t matter. I’m beyond happy with the way things turned out for me. I have the most fantastic son and a husband who doesn’t mind if…wait….nevermind. He just told me that he couldn’t stay married to me if I ever dabbled in cannibalism, even under the threat of starvation. Well, at least I waited six years to ask that question.