Sell Your Body, One Part at a Time

We need to start taking better care of our bodies. After all, experts say they're worth about $220,000, which is a far cry from what we were taught in school when they told us the human body was worth about 89 cents. Plus tax, of course. They arrived at that old figure by multiplying the amount of chemicals contained in the body by the current market value. They didn't take into consideration the cost of extracting them, fluctuations in the price of phosphorus on the spot market, or the advent of eBay, where you could easily get more than 89 cents from some excitable guy who needs to get out more.

But times have changed and our bodies are worth more now, a lot more than can be accounted for by inflation. See, while tissues, diapers, and cute boy bands have become disposable, more and more body parts are being recycled.

That's right. Not only do they transplant hearts, livers, kidneys, and corneas, they use skin, bones, ligaments, blood vessels, valves, and that little flap of skin in the back of your throat which serves no purpose other than to make you snore. You know, the one whose name you won't say because it sounds like it should be part of the female sex organs and you're afraid your mother will wash your mouth out with soap if she hears you say uvula.

When you add them up, our usable body parts are worth about $220,000, which is a nice chunk of cash. But before you go on a shopping spree figuring you'll pay off the credit card bill by sending them your tibia -- "Hey, I've got another" -- you need to realize that it's illegal to sell your body parts.

It is, however, legal to buy them, but only if they were taken out in a sleazy hotel room and the donor woke up in a bathtub filled with ice. Just kidding. That's actually an urban legend, like alligators crawling around the New York City sewer system, Neiman Marcus billing someone $250 for a "two-fifty" cookie recipe, and the Fox Network launching a new series called, "When Good Celebrity Boxing Goes Bad -- Tonya Harding vs. Mike Tyson."

That's right, it's okay to buy new body parts but not to sell your old ones. This just isn't fair. Tissue banks, hospitals, and doctors can make money off your body but you have to give it away for free. Worst of all, you can't write it off on your taxes as a charitable donation. Not even if you leave it to Goodwill.

Not all body parts are usable. One organ that can't be used after death is the brain. Unfortunately it often isn't used much before death either. Just the same, a lot of brains are being saved. Scientists have collected the smartest (Einstein's), the most powerful (Stalin's), and the most warped (Jeffrey Dahmer's). The world's largest collection of preserved human brains, a whopping 8,000 of them, are housed at the Runwell Psychiatric Hospital in England. They say they're keeping them for research purposes but I think they look at them as an investment, kind of a cerebral 401-K plan. One brain even they don't have is John Dillenger's, though the Smithsonian Institute reputedly does have his penis and, as any woman will attest, this means they also have his brain.

Eventually the day will come when slightly used brains will be on sale at your local tissue bank. And if you ever do need one I'm sure you'll want a smart one. That's why you should encourage people to chew gum. A recent study at England's University of Northumbria found that people who chewed gum for three minutes before taking a memory test were more prone to stick the wad under the desk during the test. Just kidding. Actually everyone did that.

What the researchers really discovered was that those who chewed gum scored higher on the tests than those who didn't. They think this is either because chewing gum increases the heart rate or it causes a surge of insulin since the body interprets the watering mouth as a signal that it's time for a meal. Either that or you're one of Pavlov's dogs. This study is good news for truck stop waitresses, baseball players, and children around the world, though it's bad news for anyone in Singapore. That's because in Singapore it's not only illegal to neglect to flush a public toilet, urinate in an elevator, and talk on a mobile phone while driving, but the sale and importation of chewing gum is also a crime. That's why if Singaporeans want to increase their brain power they may have to start wearing V-UP clothing.

This is the brand new no muss, no fuss way to keep your brain and body in shape. Fuji Spinning, a Japanese textile manufacturer, claims that wearing clothing made from V-UP, their new fiber, will supply you with two lemons' worth of vitamin C a day. And you'll get it without having to walk around with a puckered look on your face. Well, as long as you don't look at the price tag. These vitamin-enriched blouses and shirts are available in Japanese stores now, with T-shirts and underwear coming out in the spring. If it's successful you can expect to see vitamin D diapers for kids, B12 bras for women, and men's underwear that dispenses Viagra next fall.

So start getting that body in shape. After all, it won't be long before capitalism, the free market, and other economic forces -- like greed -- make selling your body legal. And when it is, you don't want to be the only person on your block who can't get anyone on eBay to bid on it. How embarrassing.

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