As a youngster, I once thought seriously about becoming a taxidermist when I grew up. We’d never heard of human taxidermy, but animal taxidermy–the art of stuffing dead critters after they’d been shot or trapped–was featured in numerous ads in Field and Stream and Popular Mechanics magazines. It sounded mighty cool, being able to take a flattened pheasant or a blasted beaver, work your taxidermial magic, and make them sort-of live again…for profit.
Never mind the blood and stink and general gore. I was ranch raised; I could deal with that.
However, never in my wildest dreams, fantasies, or even my nightmares…never did it occur to me that Roy Rogers would one day choose to have Trigger stuffed. Trigger was a horse. Horses got old, were maybe put out to pasture, often got ground up for dog food and glue when they got too old to be much good for anything else. They weren’t for stuffing.
Roy, of course, disagreed.
When the news first came out about Trigger’s hide, hair, and bones being kept around for EDP, Eternal Display Purposes, I experienced more than a bit of culture shock. Becoming a taxidermist was no longer a consideration flitting through my feeble brain by that time–the thought had been fleeting as such things go–but to be honest about it, Roy kind of freaked me out when he did that.
His business, not mine. But still. Whatsa matter with you, cowboy?
It reminded me of all the horror story wackos, keeping their Moms in the freezer or mummified in the upstairs bedroom after they’d whacked ’em with an axe or whatever, twisted psyches one and all.
The Psychology of the Twisted. There’s a book title…no doubt it’s been done.
Even at a young age, it was my firm conviction that hanging onto the dead was not a healthy thing for the psychological (read emotional and mental) health of those who remained behind. A few photos in an album, fine. But let’s move on, people, for cri-yi!
Over time, though, I began to realize that for a lot of humans, moving on is not easy. For quite a few, it’s not even desirable. Entire cultures glory in staying connected to those who’ve kicked the bucket before them, whether or not taxidermy–animal or human–is part of that.
Pondering this, it seemed like keeping my mouth shut on the subject might be a good idea. This could be one of those topics like religion and politics where any open admission of one’s true opinion would bring out the haters in droves…especially since my view was that cremation would solve a whole lot of problems. If we all truly went back, ashes to ashes and dust to dust, there wouldn’t be those thousands of otherwise arable acres lost to graveyard use. If there were no bones remaining, there could be no battles of outrage over those bones being desecrated long after interment.
Folks wouldn’t want to hear that; I should keep silent.
However, today’s news broke that silence. The late Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez, is going to be permanently on display for the world to see.
(*Shudders violently*) Ew-w-w-w!
At least they didn’t stuff Elvis and put him on display at Graceland. That we know of.
He’s still up in that spaceship, right?
In 2008, on the other hand, a young man in Puerto Rico did arrange to have himself stuffed and mounted on his motorcyle–after he’d been shot to death at the age of 24 and then arranged in a standing position for his own three-day funeral. A “special embalming fluid” (what, Liquid Nails?) was used to keep him upright. Nobody said what it took to cure and stuff his hide for the eternal bike ride.
A lot of hardcore bikers go by the motto, “Ride to Live, Live to Ride”…but Angel kicked things up (down?) another notch. “Ride and Die, Die and Ride” or some such.
One article did moan a bit about the waste of a good crotch rocket, stuck holding up a dead guy for all time to come.
Huh. Different strokes and then some.
Animal taxidermy. It’s what a redneck hangs on the wall.
Human taxidermy. It’s what’s for controversy.
How would you like to have a dear relative stuffed and mounted, forever dominating your living room?
Even better, how would you like to be the relative tasked with cleaning out the house after the homeowners die? Or would you be required by law to stuff them, too?
I can just see the legal beagles salivating over the potential lawsuits for SDA, Stuffed Dad Abuse. Not to mention TSAPT, the organization dedicated to the propostion that if corporations can be considered persons and the unborn must be protected, then certainly The Stuffed Are People, Too.
They could head for Washington, sponsor the Million Stiff March.
Talk about zombies. This is the Night of the Living Dead all over again.
Hugh Chavez, though…he’s a whole ‘nother kettle of stinky fish. If they just had to practice human taxidermy, couldn’t they have at least found an actual human? Besides, what if the practice spreads? Instead of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, we may end up with what, the Washington Stiffsonian? Perhaps a whole new collection of taxidermy limericks?
A young man who learned taxidermy
Stuffed critters all rotten and germy
With all that he knows
We know that he goes
To Chavez before he gets wormy
Word is out that Al Gore will volunteer to go next. After all, his movements are pretty stiff already.