THE OLD SCHOOL

How come the tops of gel pens are filled with this clear liquid that turns yellow, yellow like a urine sample when you haven't had enough to drink? I like bodily fluids; I have this childlike fascination with them, and bathroom humor and all gross-out stuff. I had a real hey day in medical school. Wanna hear gross? Gross is a teratoma, a tumor of embryologic origin. When you cut em open they've got teeth and hair and all sorts of nasty shit growing inside. I liked the gross shit. And I liked Captain Hook.

He was our corpse. We called him Captain Hook cause when he got pickled his dick was kinda bent and that's how it stayed. He became the butt of all our jokes. We turned his eyeballs around one day and called it ‘introspection.' We had a few good laughs with him, the four of us who shared him for the semester. He made being dead look pretty bad, except for the fun we were having with him. We'd tuck him into his metal box at the end of class, or maybe we just left him for someone else to deal with, like Dr. Sawyer.

He was from the old school. The old school being the one where they didn't wear gloves, which really grossed us out. An anatomy diehard, Sawyer really liked getting his hands in there, fingering through the tissues and digging up some treasure we were all supposed to marvel at. What I marveled at was that those tissues looked an awful lot like tuna fish: that beigy grey moisty meaty stuff in the can. And Dr. Sawyer fingered Captain Hook like he was last night's tuna surprise, so its no wonder tuna is kinda off my list these days.

Captain Hook spent fall with us til we left him for Xmas vacation fully expecting he wouldn't go anywhere. But after New Years things changed. First day back we exploded from the lecture hall into the lab, but gone were the rows of bodies the teams would gather round. In their place were metal boxes, each containing a head, mummified in gauze, soaked in foul smelling formalin. We unveiled Captain Hook, or at least his head to find he was still his old self, no worse without his body or the flesh rot that had ravaged the lab corpses making decapitation non negotiable.

Captain Hook served out his last days losing pieces of himself, layer after layer, as we removed skin, fascia, muscle, nerves and bone.

The last time I saw him was on the final exam. The profs had set up little dioramas with body parts out of context, labeled with little hor deheuvres toothpick flags pointing to the part to be identified. We had one minute at each station to figure out what the hell we were looking at, separated in time and space from any reference point. Then an alarm rang and we shuffled to the next mystery. But we'd done a bang-up dissection on the Captain's middle ear, so when the bell rang and I rotated to station #19, I knew in an instant I was looking at my old friend, or at least that last square inch of him. He'd made the grade and become the demo model for 3 small middle ear bones on the final exam for 125 students in the class of 1986.

I guess that's an honorable end to come to when your last wish is to be dissected. And despite the jokes and goofing around I think we did the Captain proud. I believe in karma and that we come back over and over again. So I gottta do right by this world, and square things up. I'm not sure what that means yet, but I have a feeling I'll be seeing the insides of the anatomy lab again, or they'll be seeing mine.