Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mummy Dearest

I can't remember if I've already gone on and on here about how much I love mummies. I think they are utterly fascinating. The ancient Egyptian ones, the natural frozen ones, mummified animals, I am simply enthralled by it all.

I caught Vance studying the how-to illustrations in one of the mummy books I suggestively included in the kids' book collection. We had recently explored some mummy stuff at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (a name I insist saying in full because I love the sound of it) and played some random mummy games. It seemed high time we turned ourselves into mummies.

Using the book as our guide and Fifi as our first subject, we washed the limp body, pulled the brain out of the nose with a hook (Fifi let us borrow the hook from her weaving kit. Perfect!), removed a few vital organs, sewed the body back up, steeped it in natron for 40 days and finally wrapped it. We used scraps of muslin tied together, which were dead-on in terms of looking mummyish.

While the kids were quite comfortable with the mummy-as-dead-person aspect of the process, it turns out they didn't really understand that mummies simply got buried and stayed in their tombs for thousands of years. Instead, as makes sense for them, they thought mummies were made to lie in museums. For that reason, Fifi really wanted an observation hole cut into her sarcophagus. She made a good mummy. And Vance and I were very good museum patrons.

When Fifi was ready to free her limbs, she insisted on mummifying her mommy. I was happy to lay still for a few minutes in a cardboard box. I even delighted in staying perfectly still longer than my kids wanted me to. I didn't flinch as they poked and prodded me in an effort to awaken me. And then, when they were fully bored and just about to abandon me, I scared the bejeezus out of them by unexpectedly springing up at them. Ahh, the joys of mummyhood.

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