Author Is a Cop-Out MARY ROACH · JUL 15 2003
So I wrote this book (buy from Amazon) about the bizarre, amazing, heroic things dead people have managed to achieve in their careers as research cadavers. And I find it all quite impressive and inspiring. You would think, given how I feel and what I know, that by now I'd have contacted the local medical school to fill out a willed body donor form. I have not. I'm a cop-out. I tell people it's because my husband is squeamish and would reather not picture me on a slab, in pieces. This is true, but it's not the whole story. You know what it is? I'll tell you. This is pathetic. I'm having a hard time with the thought of being old, withered, revolting and naked -- did I mention naked? -- in front of strangers. I don't mind their taking out my spleen, cutting off a leg -- none of that bothers me. I simply don't like the idea of healthy young people looking at me and being quietly disgusted by my withered flesh and dilapidated hull. (I mean, I'm 44, and already it's happening!) It's embarrassing. Of course, you can't be embarrassed when you're dead. I'm presumptively embarrassed -- the way I am when I come back from an aggressively hip party and imagine all the things that were said behind my back. Though I'll never hear them, and quite possibly they were never said, they're unsettling nonetheless. How disappointing to realize that even death isn't free from neurotic insecurity!
Very few people donate their bodies to science. I'm curious as to the reasons. What keeps you from doing it? Surely most people have better reasons than mine!