Soap Lady Blues

I turned 50 on my birthday, as did my sister… (ok, side note, step sister for those of who are math majors, or just really count well) and we had a party on November 5th (not either of our actual birthday days, a great split down the middle of the time between the two of them). One of the fun things my wife planned for us all to do was to go to the Mutter Museum! So we did!!

The Mutter Museum is in Philadelphia, and was established in 1858 as a medical museum. Some of the many bizarrely unique items therein are things such as preserved medical oddities and all kinds of diseased specimens. There is an exhibit inside called the Soap Lady. The Soap Lady, according to, is described best as:

The Soap Lady is the name given to a woman whose body was exhumed in Philadelphia in 1875. The specimen is unique because a fatty substance called adipocere encases the remains. Adipocere formation is not common, but it may form in alkaline, warm, airless environments, such as the one in which the Soap Lady was buried.

I am fairly certain that the Soap Lady was moved, she did not move herself, it should be made clear. I wouldn’t want to freak you out. She is dead. Since she is dead, I thought for fun it might be funny to think about what the Soap Lady would have thought about my birthday day.

My wife and I started out the day at home, with electric. The Soap Lady would not have had electric in her home – so score one for me. I am pretty sure I used both my indoor lighting, and my Keurig coffeemaker to have at least three cups of coffee. So I see the Soap Lady as being jealous of our modern conveniences on my birthday day. Second, I heated up a sausage and ate it for breakfast. Since the Soap Lady had no teeth when they exhumed her I bet even if they had readily available microwave sausage, and a way to heat it even if not by the as-yet-not-invented-microwave, she would have had no teeth to chew it with anyway. So I see the Soap Lady as being sad about our modern sausages on my birthday day. Lastly, for many years, it was believed that the Soap Lady was middle-aged. Then, in the late 80’s they finally x-rayed her, and she more likely was in her late 20’s. Assuming there is the tiniest, most minuscule amount of consciousness still left in Soap Lady, I imagine how angry she would be that she laid around being mistaken for a middle-aged person for all those years. Since I am often taken for being younger than my age, I think the third thing the Soap Lady would have felt on my birthday was anger. Seething, you-got-me-all-wrong anger. Mad as hell Soap Lady on my birthday day.

On the flip side, she doesn’t have to get up for work, she is already there. She doesn’t waste money on fast food. She is lean, no body fat. She looks legitimately comfortable and people from all over the world cannot wait to see her. You have to PAY to see her. She doesn’t have to pay taxes or worry about healing up a twisted ankle. She has all the time in the world to do whatever she feels like doing, and no one can stop her or bother her.


You win, Soap Lady.

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