When I die, I'd like to donate my mind to either science or the Musak company. Donating your body to science — they don't take just the mind, it's all or nothing with science — sounds noble and lofty. Maybe some diligent, postgrad researcher will make a major scientific breakthrough by poking around your formaldehyde-soaked corpse, touching various bits with electrified wires or pondering thin slices of you under an electron microscope. You may be the key to overcoming morning mouth or some other plague on humanity. Who knows?
Unfortunately, once you donate your remains to science, you have no control over what happens to them. I know about this because one summer, while seeking refuge to study for a multiday examination to become a professional prevaricator, I hid in the medical school library because no one knew me there. More importantly, lots of women studying to be doctors and nurses hung out at the med library and, unlike the women who attended classes with me and who made sharks in a feeding frenzy seem like housepets, med school women were, by nature, caring and giving. They knew both how to cook and what the word sympathy meant. It was a gratifying summer.
But back to what science does with your dead body. A boy can only study so long in any given day. One with my attention span can expect to cut that figure roughly in half. So, many were the hours I wandered the stacks of the medical library picking books off the shelf with about the same knowledge and insight I use today to select bottles of wine at the liquor store. "Cool cover. Wonder what it's about."
I learned more than the average undoctor about eye surgery, diseases of the skin and, purely by accident, experiments done on bodies donated to science. In one memorable experiment, a cadaver was sat upright in a chair, the kind of chair you might get at The Brick with five others and a Formica table referred to collectively as a kitchenette. On the table of the kitchenette was a springloaded mechanical device that looked a lot like a skeet launcher. To it was attached a very large mallet, not unlike the kind doctors used to hammer home metallic hip replacements. You can see where we're going with this, can't you?
In a very explicit sequence of freeze-frame photos, the springloaded mallet was repeatedly smashed into the forehead, cheekbone and proboscis of the dearly departed until what had been his face looked more like a Play-Doh afternoon at the local kindergarten for socially deviant children. The whole point of this "scientific" experiment, was to determine the forces necessary to smash a human skull to smithereens. This work was ostensibly undertaken in order to help General Motors develop safer Corvairs or to make the movie A Clockwork Orange more realistic, something noble like that. Needless to say, it opened my eyes to the downside of donating one's body to science and made crawling off in the desert to die and be eaten by coyotes seem like not such a bad alternative.
It wasn't until some years later — last week actually — that I decided donating my mind to the Musak company might be a better contribution to humanity than either of those alternatives. It struck me one afternoon at the Meadow Park Wreck Centre while I was desperately engaged in pursuing physical fitness. I am not the world's biggest fan of physical fitness. I think that's what draws me to skiing. Gravity sucks and that's the whole point in downhill skiing. Nature's the engine, your body is just the brake. Fat, outta-shape guys ski all the time. They also die of coronaries in the gondola but what's life without a little risk — we all die of something.
But avoiding embarrassment and non-lethal injury is important to me so I'm on a quest to resurrect the muscles that used to be in my legs and getting at least one lung comfortable with the idea of heavy breathing. I would like to think the staff at the Wreck Centre would meet me halfway in my crusade, but nooooo. In what can only be described as a diabolical plot to undermine my determination, they pipe insidious music into the upstairs torture chambers. Diabolical, insipid, and occasionally murderous tunes slip past the endorphins doing a passable job of keeping physical pain from bringing me to my knees and they MAKE ME CRAZY!
I can almost put up with whatever that hideous song is that drones over and over, "This kiss, this kiss...." even though it sounds like a bad shill for mouthwash or toothpaste. But twice last week, I stopped some feat of strength in mid-grunt, dropped the stack of weights and ran screaming from the room to throw myself into the pool and hold my breath underwater when, and I'm sure you'll all sympathize with me over this, TIE A YELLOW RIBBON 'ROUND THE OLD OAK TREE started oozing out of the speakers. And let me tell you right now, it's a damned good thing those speakers are firmly attached to the wall because if they were, they'd be out in left field on Meadow Park 2.
You know what a song like that can do to a brain like mine? Lock itself in there for a couple of days and play over and over and over again like a wheezing eight-track tape until it MAKES ME CRAZY! It gets worse. The only way to "treat" a trauma like that is to find an even more insipid song to break the cycle. And just how many songs can you think of that are more insipid?
After several hours of what can only be described as physical and mental suffering on a cosmic scale, rerunning the smattering of words to "Yellow Ribbon" I actually remember which, of course, only make a horrible song worse, I finally had to give up and bring out the big guns. In a more understanding society, they'd give me drugs to fight this affliction but instead I had to hum the tune to, oh God, this is embarrassing, "I'M A BARBIE GIRL" to get "Yellow Ribbon" out of my mind.
Do you have any idea how desperate that is?
After two days in Barbie World I remembered the bottle of 151 proof rum I picked up last time I came across the border and blissfully found peace. I asked the Wreck Centre staff to extend my pass to compensate me for mental anguish, but they said no. Oh well; tell me what can a poor boy do.
Oh no, not again...