If you are an above-average young man in his late 20’s, what would be the most inappropriate subject matter for a play to which you will take your visiting mother?
Think about it.
Sex and violence presumably come to mind rather quickly – though it is true that a certain vitriolic ex-wife refers to your mother as a pornographic writer, one can only assume that is because she has set the bar quite low. Perhaps Thomas Kincaid paintings, bestiality and necrophilia also occur as taboo subjects.
You are a thoughtful and highly intelligent young man (and your mother is not the only person who thinks so) so you go ahead and buy tickets for a play at a small experimental theater.
The play is called Adore, and the program notes, which admittedly you do not read until you have already bought the tickets, begin “Armin is a cannibal. It’s a secret...” Naturally, you assume this is meant metaphorically. There is a literary tradition of such things, just as there are mythological tales of cannibalistic revenge.
Soon the night in question arrives. You and your mother have a pleasant meal at a local pub with an overly solicitous waitress. In the theater lobby you notice that the play only lasts for 60 minutes. This will prove to be a very good thing. Because, not too many minutes into the opening scene, it becomes clear that the cannibalism in the play – there are only two actors and a screen for video images – is not a metaphor. On the contrary, it is about two men who find each other – over the Internet, where else? – and proceed to live out their ultimate sexual fantasies: in Armin’s case, to eat his lover, in Bernd’s case, to be eaten. For about an hour these two actors alternately make the case that true love is eating/being eaten by one's beloved.
The thoughtful son in question keeps glancing over at his mother and asking her if she is all right.
Have I mentioned that they are sitting in the front row in a very small theater, so that rushing out in order to vomit would be a very public act?
Luckily, your mother is flying home the next day, so the topic of cannibalistic fetishism and all the ways in which it is not about love - and that in fact eating one's beloved does not mean that the beloved becomes incorporated into one's being, but rather that one excretes one's beloved, hardly a romantic notion - can only be flogged for another 12 hours. And it is true that the play’s revolting subject matter did manage to veer the conversation from Lyuba and the contents of her stomach.
Lyuba, since you ask, is a month old woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) whose very intact body was discovered in the Siberian permafrost by a reindeer herders, and named after his wife. Unlike his wife, Lyuba lived over 40,000 years ago and was the size of a large dog at the time of her death by inhalation of mud, presumably while crossing a bog with her fellow woolly mammoths. Inside her stomach, researchers at a Japanese medical school found mother’s milk, pollen from grasses, algae and mammoth dung.
Additionally, the river in your city has become bright green. This has nothing to do with your theatrical fiasco of the previous night. It is viewed with pleasure and amazement by mother and son, just before the mother heads to the airport for her flight home.
Or so you thought. Nature intervened and brought air travel throughout the east coast to a halt, which meant that your mother was back with you for another 48 hours while trees were uprooted and trunks fell on roofs and smashed in cars and power was extinguished and rain fell in record-breaking inches.
This gave you both more time to come up with bad jokes about cannibalism as love, or not.