Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An Interview With Jerome

Sometimes it's more complicated than that.

Our guest today has been dead for 5300 years, but this has only enhanced his fame, if not his fortune. Even in our modern era of credit default swaps, toxic assets, identity theft, and hedge funds, banks still, for some reason, are skittish about dealing with the deceased.

For his sake, we can only hope this will change soon. Maybe by next week.

So, on to our guest.

Q: Sir, you are known to the world as both Ötzi the Iceman and Frozen Fritz. What do you prefer to be called?

A: Well, when I alive, my mother call me lots of name. I say "Anything you want meine Mutter, but not so much late for the dinner, ja?" Then she hit me with the stick once. But I always like the Jerome. Call me Jerome.

Q: All right then, Jerome it is then. Jerome the Iceman.

A: No. Name is Jerome. Jerome, or I kill you with rock. No joke on the name.

Q: Well Jerome, sir, from recent genetic studies of your mummified corpse, it appears that you may have had brown eyes and abundant facial hair.

A: Ja. This is true. My people have the hair.

Q: Scientists have also determined that you had type O blood. Is this true as well?

A: I don't know. When they find me in ice I am dry already. From blood I don't know, but whenever I kill the deer I have the drink. Blood. Good. Keep the body young, nicht wahr?

Q: Tell you what. I'll try it next time I bring down a deer.

A: Ja. You do that. Is good for the hair. Keep it from fall out.

Q: So, apart from you being lactose intolerant and having parents from Sardinia, what was the best part of living along the neolithic Austrian/Italian border that wouldn't even exist for another 5000 years or so?

A: Well, I think I say my backpack. I make it from the skin and the stick. We have plenty sticks then but your scientist people get all excited pretty much on that one somehow. Scientist never see stick before, maybe.

Like, I quote to you: "The picture that emerges from my analysis of Ötzi's possessions is of a mature, highly skilled hunter. His kit provided, with minimal weight, all the necessary tools for hunting, butchering and bringing back meat, skins, antlers or horn on his lightweight pack frame."

Pretty good for a dead guy, no? Meine Mutter is all the time calling me Dummkopf. She might be proud of me now maybe, if not also dead.

Q: Well, you may not know this, but these days we have a trend called "Ultralight Backpacking", based on a lot of the principles found in your gear. Have you heard about it and if so, what do you think?

A: Ja. I have the light pack. Is good. I carry moss around and some few rocks. That is all I have to eat. Once I have the elk liver but I eat it right away, so there is not so much to carry. Know what I'm saying? No shopping. No money. Nobody has the car, not even used one. We eat dirt sometimes, from the hunger.

Q: Sounds like life was tough, but with your light gear you must have been able to travel long distances in comfort. How was it?

A: Always hungry, me. I steal some tubers and a piece dried rabbit. Then they come after. Long chase. Way long, up the mountains. All over me for piece of stupid meat. Shoot me full of arrows, they. Then I die and the ice get me. Not fun. You are idiot. Go away or I kill you. I am Jerome. You are fool. Go away fool. Leave me dead.


Scientific American: Iceman's Genome Furnishes Clues to His Ailments and Ancestry

The Humanities Program: Ötzi the Iceman