TO: My husband, so that my body may be identified
In the summer, after our daily walk in the woods with the dog, we check each other for ticks. Not like monkeys, pawing through each others hair. Just a head to toe eyeballing to see if any of those heinous little head-buriers are slowly making their way up our torsos to setup camp in our armpits.
We do this, because once you find one tick, for the next three months you feel like invisible armies of insects and vermin are swarming all over your body. The effect is akin to someone breaking into your house or car; you feel violated. After an arthropod attack, every little itch under the covers makes you imagine a 8″ long camel spider creeping across your shins. On his way to play pinochle with a Goliath beetle. Using maggot poker chips. Brought by cockroach cocktail waitresses.
Let’s just say you haven’t had a bad hair day until you’ve convinced yourself your hair is alive with African Stick Insects. Sure, you don’t live in Africa, but logic has nothing to do with it. You were just imagining bugs playing poker.
So, everyday we look for ticks. And every day, husband dear, you say, “There’s one!” while pointing to the dark freckle on my left thigh.
Beyond the general annoyance of having to point out every 24-hours that my freckle does not have legs, there is a much greater concern.
What happens if my body is discovered, partially burned or otherwise disfigured, and you only have “identifying marks” with which to work?
I’ll tell you what will happen. I’ll end up in a drawer with a tag that says “Jane Doe” tied to my toe.
Policeman: Mr. Brunell, can you tell us if this is your wife?
Mike: Ummmm… No… I don’t think so. But whoever she is, she has a tick on her leg. Ew!
This isn’t an unreasonable fear. My people have died horribly before. Peter Benchley based Jaws, in part, on a 1916 shark attack on Charles Vansant. Granted, he wasn’t dragged out to sea, he had the good fortune to bleed to death on the manager’s desk at the Engleside Hotel. But you can understand my concern.
So here are my suggestions to you, oh love-of-my-life.
1. We should get tattoos. Nothing that shows, just our names and social security numbers stamped to the bottoms of our feet. Of course, if we are murdered super-villian style, by being slowly dipped into a vat of crocodiles or acid, that won’t help. But, as everyone knows, just before our toes hit the acid crocodiles, the bad guy will announce his evil plans for the next several weeks and then leave the room, confident that we will be dead in short order. At that time, we’ll wriggle free and leap to freedom. But, maybe we should get it tattooed on our scalps just in case he hasn’t read the super-villain handbook.
2. We should make some sort of constellation map of our freckles and moles. We’ll get a big white sheet with the outline of a two bodies on it (prone, front and back) and map all our identifying marks. Then, when the cops want us to identify a body, we’ll just roll out the sheet and compare. Maybe we could just cut out the spots where the marks are and then lay the sheet on top of the body to line them up with pins, sort of like Lite-Bright.
3. We should start to ingest some sort odd compound that won’t kill us, but would show up on a lab report. After all, that poor girl in Jaws was just a pile of hair and crab feces by the time she washed up.
Autopsy Dude: “There seems to be an unusual amount of arsenic in the body.”
You: “That’s her! That’s Amy! I’ve been feeding her arsenic for months!”
Problem solved. Well, my problem. I’m identified. They might want to keep you for questioning.