Stiff (as in Cadaver, not “Bored Stiff”…but Now That You Mention It…)

I’ve been trying to read Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers for about two weeks now.  I think I’m done trying.

It Really Is Good. Pinky Swears.

I mean, it’s not that the book isn’t good – it totally is!  No really!  I love her writing style.  I’m genuinely interested in the subject matter.  I just can’t seem to focus.  It’s like trying to eat quinoa and eggplant when you really just want a cheeseburger.  Maybe I should just read Twilight again…

A lot of the book is really quite thought provoking.  For example, did you realize that necrophilia wasn’t illegal in a single US state until 1965?  Actually, today it’s still only illegal in sixteen states.  For you mathematically challenged, that means it’s totally legal to drill the deceased in *pauses to call Thom for help with arithmetic* thirty-four states.  Thirty four!

Nevada is one of the states that deems necrophilia a no-no.  Their law is quite explicit even.  Can you imagine being the stenographer when they put this bad boy on the books?

It is a felony to engage in cunnilingus, fellatio, or any intrusion of any part of a person’s body, or any object manipulated or inserted by a person into the genital or anal openings of the body of another where the offender performs these acts on the dead body of a human being.

Really, I don’t seem much gray area there.  Way to go, Nevada!  I think they add in that “of a human being” caveat because they’re so near Area 51.  What you do to the body of a dead alien in Nevada is your own business.  Obviously.

The book also made me rethink what to do with my body when Jeff Buckley and I are reunited in the great CBGB’s in the sky.  Originally, I wanted to be an organ donor and then have what was left cremated. Thing is, after reading about the cancer rates in transplant patients that received organs from cancer survivors, I’m pretty sure no one will want any of my bits.

I suppose I could donate me to science, but you can’t stipulate how your bod is used.  I really don’t want my head chopped off so some med student can practice his brow-lifts.  I don’t really want to be left in the wetlands for weeks on end so forensic scientists can learn to pin-point the exact moment a mobster was whacked.  No-siree-bob.

I know what I want to be when I grow up…and then grow old, and then bite it.  I want to be a crash test dummy.  Hells yes!  Strap my cadaver ass into a car and hurl me into stationary objects!  Dig this:

For every cadaver that rode the crash sleds to test three-point seat belts, 61 lives per year have been saved.  For every cadaver that took an air bag in the face, 147 people per year survive otherwise fatal head-ons.  For every corpse whose head has hammered a windshield, 68 lives per year are saved.

Word to the worm food, right?!?  Who knew you could get so much use out of a dead body?  Well, I guess necrophiliacs in thirty-four states find plenty of uses for dead bodies.

Ew.  I grossed myself out again.

Do you think zombies would make for good crash test dummies?  It’s about time we found a way for the un-dead to contribute to society, don’t you think?

And now I can’t stop singing that addictive 90’s song – “Once there was a kid who….”

I’m going to stop now.  Really.

“mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, mmmm”


  1. I loved that book. I read it cover to cover in a day or two.. then again, I’m a scientist.
    Have you read “Bonk?” It might be more up your alley, since it’s about sex instead of dead people.

  2. My shoulder nun says I’m not allowed to do anything with my bod when I die. Apparently she still believes that crazy ass Catholic urban myth that says all of our asses rise from the grave and reunite with our souls during this second coming business.
    All I know is that if this crazy rapture shit goes down it’s going to be mistaken for that zombie apocolypse the blogess has been drilling for.
    To avoid this mistake keep watchful eye out for the horsemen. They will probably be riding what looks a LOT like Destructicorn minus horn.
    Oh and they will be smiting people along the way.
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Hanging It Up =-.

    1. It’s not about what YOU are going to do with your dead body. It’s more about what those guys squatting in that old abandoned factory by the rail yard are going to do to your dead body when they dig it up.

      I still giggle when I think of Destructicorn.

  3. LOVED Stiff, and yes, Bonk is way awesome! Roach is a great writer, pulling together research and combining it with wit and humor. Finish it when you can — you’ll like it. Or start Bonk right now. Good stuff.

    1. I totally dig smart chicks. I just think I wasn’t in quite the right head space. I made it nearly all the way through, I promise.

  4. Is it weird that I just can’t understand why it would be illegal to hump a dead body? Gross yes, but illegal? Perhaps deep fried pickles should be illegal too? I know, I’m weird.
    .-= Hip Hop Hippie´s last blog ..Adultolescent =-.

  5. I sleep with a lot of dead people. That’s a lie, mainly just Jesus… What?

    One of my housemates in boarding school sat in the corner with that book for days before I knew what it was about. Scared the hell out of me. I should give it a read… Heard good things.

  6. One of the drs I used to work for talked about the ‘cadaver dinner’ they had at the end of their medical schooling. Being the sick puppy I am, I immediately thought of flesh eating zombies and brrraaaaiiinnnsssss. I was disappointed to find out its a dinner for the families of the cadavers as a way of thanking them for donating their loved ones bodies. I liked my scenario better.

    Loved your blog btw…… Holly

  7. ” I personally always live in a state of denial. Most things are legal here.”

    One of the best quotes EVER!

    Crap. I forgot what I planned to comment on…

    p.s. This turns out to be a great strategy. I always agonize over not being able to outwit the witty comments here. From now on, I’m just going to claim that I “forgot” what I was going to say.
    .-= subWOW´s last blog ..WTF Wednesday: There, I fixed it (A Pictogram) =-.

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