Sarah

Sometimes I like to think about what forensic scientists would say about my body if I were dead.  Conclusions about my diet and exercise would be a no brainer.  “Clearly, she ate too much,” they’d conclude.  “A sedentary job, certainly.  Look at the lack of callouses on anything but her mousefinger.”

But what about this?  I had an orthodontist once say to me, “You’re left handed.”  No, I’m not.  “Really?” he asked.  “Because the teeth on the right side of your mouth are cleaner than those on the left.  And that’s usually only true for left-handed people.  Right-hand dominant people have cleaner left-side teeth.”

I tried to figure out why this would be true—then I remembered one of my profound and secret weirdnesses: I like to hold my toothbrush with my wrist arching backward.  My default toothbrush position is on the right side of my mouth, and I brush back and forward in (what feels like) a graceful, violin-playing sort of motion.  I’ve always loved the way that felt.  I brush the left side to be thorough; I brush the right side because it feels lovely.

Ha! forensic scientists.  My idiosyncratic preferences fooled you!

And what about this?  The small patch of red marks under the left corner of my left eye.  What about them, anatomical investigators?  Birth mark?  Confrontation with a ring-wearing fist?  Wrong again.  Repeated use of an eyelash curler and sloppy laziness.  Bet you didn’t see that coming.

I don’t know why I get satisfaction out of fooling these future cadaver inspectors.  They’re probably trying to help me.  Find my killer.  Understand my society.  Return me to my rightful resting place.  Something.

To that end, I sometimes imagine what it would be like to die in a way that would surprise my forensic death team.  Even delight them, in a darkly humorous sort of way.  “She must have been coming home from Costco,” they’d tell their dinner party guests.  “We found her on the roadway, surrounded by four dozen rolls of toilet paper.”

I always think of this when I’m holding food in the passenger seat.  Maybe we’re on the way to a church potluck.  Maybe we’re bringing food to a friend’s house.  “If we get into a car accident right now,” I say, “I’d be covered in windshield shards and lasagna.”  If I’m feeling really gruesome, I wonder if they’ll be able to tell the blood from the marinara sauce.

“Does all this thinking of people looking at your body once you’re dead make you want to make good choices about eating and exercising?” Manfriend asked me last night, as we talked about my post.  I laughed.  “No,” I said.  “Turns out, it makes me want to make more idiosyncratic choices, to mystify them all.”  I didn’t know I had it out for the likes of Encyclopedia Brown and his CSI compatriots.

Of course, of course I want to die at the end of my life, as peacefully and sanguinely as possible.  But there is this part of me that is still trying to be okay with the idea that I might die of ho hum natural causes and rest undeterred in a coffin until the Resurrection.  “Bo-ring,” the morticians will say.  “Died of causes incident to old age.  She’ll almost certainly R.I.P.  Boo.”

Clearly I watch too much TV.

(Undeterred.  Get it?)

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