You Shouldn't Have: Great Gifts
1 During Christmas in 1888, Vincent van Gogh called at a Paris brothel with a present for a girl called Rachel and told her, “Keep it and treasure it.” It was his ear.
2 The Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo signaled the imminent death of an inner-circle adviser by awarding him the Christopher Columbus medal. It became a tradition after the first recipient of the Columbus medal died from tetanus because Trujillo inadvertently stuck him with the pin.
3 King Edward VII owned a golf bag made from an elephant’s penis, a gift from an admirer, an Indian maharajah; it was a sly reference to Dirty Bertie’s love of golf, hunting, and sex, but not necessarily in that order.
4 In 1995, Lord Erskine of Rerrick bequeathed his testicles to the Bank of Scotland (which had declared him bankrupt), because it had “no balls.”
5 Pills made from the toxic metal antimony were highly esteemed in medieval times as bowel regulators. The pills irritated the intestinal tract, causing loose motions, and would pass through the body unharmed, so they could be handed down from father to son and from mother to daughter as precious family heirlooms.
6 Moulay Ismael, the sultan of Morocco, gave samples of his bowel movements to ladies of the court as a mark of special favor.
7 Pope Pius IX gave Queen Isabel of Spain, on the occasion of her birthday, the embalmed corpse of Saint Felix.
8 Warriors of the cannibalistic Brazilian Cubeo tribe gave their Wives the penis and scrotum of a defeated victim. The Wife Was expected to eat them to make herself fertile.
9 The 1897 Sears, Roebuck & Co. mail-order catalog offered a selection of hypodermic syringe kits for shooting up heroin.
10 During a drug raid on a house party in Kansas in 1994, police officers found a mummified female head in a box marked “Eight-Piece Party Cook Kit.” The head was Wrapped in a White lab smock and had blond hair and eyebrows, but no brain. The owner, fifty-one-year-old Donald Donohue, said it was a gift from a medical student.