Thursday, October 5, 2017

I’m Going To Vomit

Now that my kids are older and can manage their own activities and I no longer have to worry about meeting them at the front door after a busy school day with a sandwich and a glass of milk, I have loads of free time to neglect housework find a job day drink get together with friends. So when a friend asked if I wanted to meet her and another friend in the city, I said Yes ma’am, the world is our oyster, and will there be food involved.

We decided to meet at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, aka the Mütter Museum. If you’re not from the Philadelphia area you may not have heard about it, despite the gross-out and horror movie-level reputation of its contents.

You see, kids, the Mütter is a medical museum that houses all sorts of biological pathologies, from the largest skeleton to The Soap Lady to a huge colon filled with 40 pounds of feces. The term “wet specimen” is used heavily here. There are brains and tumors and amputated toes in jars, oh my.

Slices of Einstein’s brain. Dessicated hands and feet. Real and fake shrunken heads, with DIY instructions. A wall of realistic wax models of all the bad things that can happen to an eyeball. We’re talking eye-dripping-with-pus after eye-with-a-piece-of-metal-stuck-in-it after eye-being-pushed-out-of-the-socket-from-a-tumor here, people. It’s revolting, yet hilarious, and not just because both of my eyeballs are presently intact.

You see, I am not a medical professional, nor do I have aspirations of being one. Also, I learned that day, nor do I possess even the smallest level of sensitivity to displays of graphic medical abnormalities.

Nor do my friends, evidently, because we gaped, gagged, giggled and guffawed our way through the Mütter amidst serious med students and people on dates and quite possibly others who were just trying to keep from hurling.

This place is Capital G Gross.

It is also fun, we discovered as we perused the wall of skeleton heads (or if you’re fancy: skulls). We giggled at the descriptions offered of the people they once belonged to. Some informed lifestyle and specific medical disorder suffered, and some merely gave causes of death, but other descriptors were hilariously left up to the imagination of the observer. I found the straightforward explanation “Gypsy” pretty funny but joined my friends in gasping back tears of laughter when confronted with a bonehead labeled – simply – “Idiot.”

Which is description enough for cause of death, am I right or am I right?

Once we got the skull rolling, everything we looked at was found hilarious. It was only mildly annoying.

As I banged open the
drawers that contained a collection of  junk people swallowed (OMG why so many safety pins? What kind of witch doctor saves this crap?), my friends ogled a 70-pound ovarian cyst and ruminated on the logistics of how a pair of conjoined twins fathered over 20 children. Our commentary was ceaseless. The mega-colon removed from the unfortunate soul who died of constipation served as a grim reminder to the assemblage to “eat more fiber and drink your water, kids.”

We were ignored. We couldn’t believe nobody else was as immature awed as we were regarding these medical marvels. Drinking lots of water is just sound medical advice.

One of my friends openly pointed out that tuberculosis was bad news all around, and I remarked that all the curved spines made my back hurt. Our other friend was still worrying over those conjoined twins, who married sisters.

By the time we got to the diseased reproductive organs, we had lost all control and it was time to leave. We sternly warned each other to run if one day your husband’s penis turns up looking like that, and finally agreed, after all evidence presented, that syphilis is to be avoided at all costs.

As we were discharged into the gift shop, we thoughtfully took the time to sign the guest book and thank the Mütter for an informative afternoon, along with previous museum attendees who had helpfully sketched some of their own anatomically interesting offerings.

I was glad to see that we were in good company in our hilarity, even if we weren’t overtly appreciated by our fellow museum-goers. Because darn it all, bodies are amazing. And funny. And so, so disgusting.

Death by delirium tremens, LOL.



  1. I know it was kind of gross, but I'll bet it was fascinating nonetheless.

    I think you're thinking of Chang and Eng Bunker, who were a sideshow attraction (and from whom we get the term "Siamese Twins") who retired and bought a farm together and had a bunch of kids (none of whom were conjoined, as far as I know). They lived in the real-life town of Mt. Airy, the model for Mayberry of Andy Griffith fame. I heard later that they think they could have been separated pretty easily...

    1. That exactly who they are! My friend couldn't get them out of her mind. She had read too much information, I'm afraid. :)

  2. I've always wanted to go there if I ever make it to Philly. First stop, Liberty Bell. Second stop, Mütter Museum. Third stop, cheesesteak place. I daren't eat before the Mütter.

    1. That is smart planning. We chose to eat afterwards, too. I was pleased with our decision.

      Psst... skip the cheesesteaks. You can get better ones anywhere else. They're just famous here.

      Wait, who said that?

    For reals.
    Like, my favorite.