Why sell your body to science when there are perfectly good necrophiliac societies around?
There’s a funny thought. And a funny word, too: Necrophiliac. Necrophilia.
From the Greek, of course: ‘Necros’, meaning ‘dead’, and ‘philia’ – the verb ‘to fill’.
Notice when I say that word, ‘necrophilia’, a lot of the younger people down the front visibly stiffen. A lot of the older people down the back there look a bit scared – and quite rightly so!
(c) The Doug Anthony Allstars, Dead & Alive
“Dead Man In Mortuary Impregnates Woman” ran the headline of one of the stories of the Dead Serious News yesterday. The article told of Felicity Marmaduke, 38-year-old employee of the Mourning Glory Mortuary in Lexington, Missouri who was bathing one the corpses and noticed an inherent post mortem stiffness about his nether limbs. Figuring ‘what the heck’, she climbed on to claim a little workplace fringe benefit. But who knew a horizontal dance of the dead could have a happy ending? Testing positive to a pregnancy during a routine medical examination some weeks later, Marmaduke related the bizarre circumstances that led to the conception, police were notified and she was charged with desecration of the dead and necrophilia. The final twist was that while she was fined for the crime, she was suing the dead man’s estate for child maintenance.
I was all set to write a blog post. This seemed the ideal forum within which to air a similar horror story of necrophilia – but one with far more pop cultural significance: some years ago, the UK gossip newsletter Popbitch ran a piece claiming “all the local undertakers” took the opportunity to get to know Marilyn Monroe’s corpse a little better after her death.
But before I did, I thought it wise to check the veracity of the Dead Serious News item. The fact that the piece was originally published in 2010 and was being republished more than a year later is a little bit suspicious. And the name of the undertakers – Mourning Glory Mortuary – seems too good to be true given the other meaning of ‘morning glory’. I suppose their motto is “We deal with stiffs!
Except that a quick search of Mourning Glory reveals it to be a legitimate – if inappropriate – name for a firm of undertakers. ‘Felicity Marmaduke’, on the other hand, turns out to be utterly fictitious – as does the story, according to Snopes.
When I was in high school, there was one year that I had a seemingly strict English teacher whose favourite admonition appeared to be, ‘stop that, it’s smutty!’ One day, when we were supposed to be working, I was having a chat somewhere up the back in my customary stage whisper. It involved my dropping the term ‘necrophilia’ in front of some other students, one of whom was the form’s stud (every year has one, it's written into every school’s charter).
‘What does that mean?’ the stud demanded.
‘It’s when you have sex with a dead person,’ I replied, relishing the fact that there was one thing sexual in the universe he didn’t have a complete handle on.
‘How do you get to know words like that?!’ was his next line of inquiry, his voice heavy with the tone of disbelief.
‘Well,’ I said, hamming it up, ‘the last time I was in a cemetery pretending to be dead…’
There was a roar of laughter from the front of the classroom. The teacher had been listening the whole time.
‘What, he hopped on top, did he?’ Mr ‘Stop-That-It’s-Smutty’ asked, the imagery he conjured out-smutting us all and leaving us utterly gob-smacked.