January 14th, 2008

Party Guy

Happy Birthday, koogrr!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English (© Jeffrey Kacirk):

One who prepares materials for embalming the dead; [from] Latin pollinctus, French polingere, to wash and prepare a corpse for a funeral.
--William Whitney's Century Dictionary, 1889

Distasteful Dental Display
On this date in 1775 Mary Van Buren, wife of London dentist Martin Van Buren, died of undisclosed causes. Not wishing to miss an opportunity to promote his practice, Van Buren decided to have her body embalmed by the noted anatomist Dr. William Hunter, who added "nicely matched glass eyes," and cheek rouge to reinvigorate her ashen skin. After outfitting the corpse in lace, the dentist offered it for public inspection in his home office daily from nine o'clock until one, except Sundays. Although his marketing plan drew many gawkers, his second wife was quick to object, and the body was removed to Hunter's museum of anatomical oddities, which still operates as the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons in London's Lincoln's Inn Fields. But this corpse is not among the exhibits, having fallen victim to an errant Nazi bomb in 1941, after which the remains were properly buried.

Darn those macabre dentists. They're wacky.

-The Gneech