Be advised: Certain portions of this writeup may induce nausea.

I got to sit in on an autopsy once. I left early 1, but while I was still there I learned some Fun Facts about Dead People.

From watching movies and television, you might have the idea that dead people look a lot like live people, except that they're not moving. That's not really the case, because unlike live people who are just very tired, dead people are really not moving. Not even a little bit: No breathing, no nothing. This makes a difference. You can tell. It's a little bit creepy.

This part probably doesn't apply to dead people in general, but the dead person I got to hang out with didn't look too good. He'd been dead since the previous night, and the blood had been drawn downward by our friend Mr. Gravity, so the top of the body was very pale and the bottom half was very reddened. As it happened, his left leg had been amputated just below the knee six or eight months earlier. That wasn't very attractive either, but I'm told that it's not a standard feature of dead people.

He really just wasn't moving, man. That's what got to me the most. There was something eerily "significant" about it, something "unnatural": This is a human being, but it is not a human being. To me, it seemed to have a very heavy presence in the room. There was a tendency to respect the stillness of the thing, and even to mimic it.

We're getting to the nausea next.

I'd expected the muscle tissue to look like beef, but it was much darker. This wasn't the flesh in which the blood had pooled, either; this was at the top of the body (ventral; the body was supine) (okay, his chest was upward 'cause he was lying on his back, if you insist). Of course, this dead person had sat around for more than fifty years waiting for the right moment to die. It may be that the flesh of a younger dead person would be lighter in color. I'm curious about this, if anybody has any broader knowledge of the subject.

The dead person was overweight, and there was fat. This fat was remarkable: It resembled Cheez Whiz more than anything else I can think of, but it was more yellowish in color, and it appeared to have a lumpy consistency. The dead person maintained his composure throughout.

The removal of the face and scalp was so fascinating that I decided to contemplate it from really far away, like as far away as I could get, and as rapidly as I could get there. Those for whom "custom [had] given it a property of easiness", were amused. That's okay.

1 ...and at a pretty good clip.

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