Saturday, January 10, 2009

For the Love of Teeth!

Every once in a while I come across a story too bizarre to not share. This is one of them.

Hannibal Helmerto is a man who left his normal life as a German tax inspector to join the circus as a sword swallower (really). He surgically modified his tongue so he looks like a snake, which, I might point out, is a great career move for anyone. Somewhere along the way he met and married a lovely lady and they settled down in London. Unfortunately, Hannibal and his wife recently started having marital troubles and got divorced.

In preparation for the divorce settlement, Hannibal took some extreme measures to keep his most prized possession - a 40,000 year old piece of mammoth ivory. He removed two of his own teeth and implanted the ivory in their place. Hannibal Claims: "I could bear to lose everything but my ivory. She can't take my body away from me and nobody can pull my teeth out. It's part of me now and there's nothing she can do about it."

This article, which can be found in its entirety here, leaves me with a few questions.

#1 - Did he do the procedure himself of did a dentist do it? This is really lose-lose. If he did it, he had no idea what he was doing and it will soon fall out anyway. If a dentist did it - I'd have to question the ethics of that dentist. The only way I would ever perform a similar procedure is if the patient's teeth were diseased and he needed dental implants anyway, but even then I would have to do some research on the procedure and the likely outcome. (40,000 year old mammoth implants isn't something they cover in dental school).

#2 - Would that plan even work? I'm not sure how much credit to give this guy. On the one hand, he's German (+1 smart point) and worked as a tax inspector (+1 smart point). On the other hand, he joined the circus (-1 smart point), he forked his tongue (-1 smart point) and he implanted his FREAKING mammoth ivory in his mouth!!! (-5 smart points).

I recently spoke with a judge here in the states, to whom I happen to be related, to get his take on the case. Although he was unfamiliar with British law, if he were presiding over a similar settlement in his state, the value of the ivory would count against the assets that Hannibal took from the marriage - so yes, he could keep it, but it's not like he's really coming out ahead when everything is divided up.

I'll try to keep you posted with any follow up stories on this case.

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