I recently logged onto www.donatelifecalifornia.org and signed away the bits and pieces of my tawdry existence. The problem I'm having with this is based primarily on two Monty Python skits.
The first is from the film "Meaning of Life" in which a pair of rather thuggish types in medical garb (played by John Cleese and real-life doctor Graham Chapman) show up to harvest an unsuspecting donor's liver. No matter that he was still very much alive, he had signed the forms. I worry about this kind of humanitarian brutality. With all those people waking up in hotel bathtubs missing kidneys these days, it certainly gives me pause. A knock at the door - and there they stand: the California State Organ Enforcement Squad. Governor Schwarzenegger has determined the best way to mediate medical costs in these troubled times is to claim all those wayward glands, nodes and giblets. The going rate on the Iraqi Black Market is $500 a kidney. You can live a very happy and productive life with only one kidney, right? And hey, five hundred smackers puts me that much closer to a big screen TV.
The other scary notion comes from a much earlier period - "The Undertaker Sketch." A man (John Cleese) walks into an undertaker's (Graham Chapman - these guys again?) and asks what he can do with his mother, who has recently passed away. After deciding against the initial suggestion of dumping her in the Thames, tow other options are explored:
U: Oh well, we won't dump her, then. Well, what do you think: burn her, or bury her?
M: Um, well, um, which would you recommend?
U: Well they're both nasty. If we burn her, she gets stuffed in the flames, crackle, crackle, crackle, which is a bit of a shock if she's not quite dead. But quick. And then you get a box of ashes, which you can pretend are hers.
M: (timidly) Oh.
U: Or, if you don't wanna fry her, you can bury her. And then she'll get eaten up by maggots and weevils, nibble, nibble, nibble, which isn't so hot if, as I said, she's not quite dead.
And therein lies my peculiar rub: If I'm not quite dead. I don't want someone rooting around my insides unless I have completely and comprehensively shuffled off this mortal coil. I've read those touching stories about the boy who gave up his eyes and his lungs and his nose and his cuticles so that others could see, breathe, smell, and have something to chew on. I worry about showing up in the afterlife unable to carry on a conversation with someone because of an urgent need for my lips.
But I did go ahead and register - in spite of all my donor paranoia. If you come knocking at my door, late at night, don't be surprised if I ask for ID before I start showing off any "spare body parts."