A humanist friend of mine recently learned that his reputation had been unfairly tarnished many years ago when he was in medical school. Somehow, his name had become associated with a bizarre and infamous prank. The incident featured several of his male classmates, who, drunk on at least testosterone, sneaked into the morgue one night, removed a cadaver’s penis, and placed the severed member into the pocket of a female classmate’s lab coat that was hanging on a rack. The unsuspecting medical student donned her coat the next morning, reached into her pocket for her key, and, much to her horror, discovered instead the cold, disarticulated masculine unit.
My friend, now a successful pediatrician, tells me he has no idea how he became known as one of the perpetrators of the prank. Perhaps his name is similar to that of one of the real culprits. Perhaps the story is pure fiction and a scorned ex-lover spun the tale ex novo in an act of vengeance. Whatever the case, my friend’s fellow alumni shunned him for years, assuming him to be at worst a misogynistic, necrophilic gore-monger or at best a brat with a bad sense of humor. Even now, despite the best alibis, denials, and explanations he has put forth, his name and the fateful event remain yoked in medical-school lore.