Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I went and had a CAT scan this morning, a necessary follow-up to my little episode of renal colic Sunday. The good news is, no stone! I suspected that I pissed the damn thing out Monday, and my urologist agreed that that was very likely what happened. The Pee-Pee Analysis and blood test may reveal more; results will be forthcoming in a few days. But for now, everything is copacetic. My kidneys are clean enough to eat off of.

After the exam, I asked to see the CAT scan, and my doctor was kind enough to oblige. Modern technology is an amazing thing. Without any pads, pins, or odors uncomfortable procedures, I was able to view a lateral cross-section of myself...and simply by using the scroll wheel on her mouse, my doctor was able to move the “slice” up or down at will. Just Damn! It’s a little unnerving to see your own kishkes on a computer screen.

But when I was looking, half-mesmerized, at the image, it reminded me of something. It was...familiar!

It was Salami Man!

Yes, Salami Man. It was during a 1990 visit to Chicago - we had gone there to visit the Missus’s brother, back when he was living in West Rogers Park, the neighborhood featured in the novel “Crossing California” - that we had taken Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. What they saw there would be seared into their brains for life.

No, it wasn’t the Collection o’ Pickled Fetuses, although that was impressive enough in its perverse beauty. An embryo or fetus for each week of gestation, preserved perfectly in a formaldehyde-filled Pickle Jar. Toward the end of the gestational period, they begin to look almost cuddly, in a floating-in-brine sort of way. But the Fetus Collection didn’t bother the girls too much. Something else did, though, and it still gives them the Heebie-Jeebies to talk about it.

Salami Man and Salami Woman.

Formally known as the Body Slices exhibit, Salami Man and Salami Woman are (you guessed it) a real man and woman, both of whom died of natural causes in the 1940’s and whose bodies were subsequently sliced into thin sections with a band saw. The woman was sliced in full-body profile; the man laterally, with the plane of the cuts perpendicular to the spine.

The result is a sort of strange collision of butcher shop, modern art, and science. Eerie, yet disturbingly beautiful.

It made the girls - all three of ’em - want to scream. And, even today, the mere mention of the words “Salami Woman” will give them nightmares for weeks. Which means, if they’re reading this...oopsie!

But today, I got to be Salami Man, and it didn’t hurt a bit. Well, except for the part later on, where my doc checked out the ol’ prostate. And even that wasn’t too bad. I had selected her, you see, for her excellent depth of medical knowledge; her outgoing personality; her fine bedside manner; and her hands. Her small hands.

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