Aug. 17 2016 12:23 PM

The anatomy of a deal

I have no idea what possessed me, but when I saw the online notice that the MSU Surplus Store had a full human skeleton for sale, I knew I had to own it.

There is no logical reason for me to own a skeleton. None. There are some socially constructed reasons — it would be cool, all my friends would be envious (and they were), I could take really cool artsy photos — but ultimately, it was one of those must-have-because-I-can-have things.

I presumed a full human skeleton — complete with hanging display rack, by the way — would be a hot ticket item at the MSU Surplus Store. So I was up by 5 a.m. to be at those doors when they cracked open at 7 a.m.

But here’s the thing — if you have never been to the MSU Surplus Store, it can be an overwhelming jumble of insanity. That Tuesday morning I stumbled in, sleepy eyed and anxious, and realized I had no earthly idea where the skeleton might be hiding in the space. So up one aisle and down the next I went, like one of those speed walkers in the mall before the shops open.

I wandered past the wall of used computer monitors and the mountains of discarded dorm furniture. Then found it. Cleetus the Great, I dubbed it. I admit there was a soundtrack playing in my head upon the discovery, like one of those movie moments where the hero reaches the goal, swelling celebratory music and all that. And Cleetus was cheap — I mean, for a skeleton. I paid $125. Online medical supply stores offer similar models for as low as $350, with some asking nearly $2,000.

Cleetus came home with me. I took photos using Cleetus’ skeletal hand holding a bottle Truvada, a drug that had recently been approved as an HIV prevention treatment, for some educational programming. Then Cleetus hung from the rack in the corner of my living room with nothing to do.

Then my friend Kirbay Preuss, of the Pruess Pets Pruesses, noticed a post about Cleetus on social media and asked to use it in her yoga classes. How could I say no? I gifted Cleetus to her.

She took Cleetus to the pet shop to show some friends and coworkers, and it soon became clear that Preuss Pets was his natural home.

“I left him out for a few days, and so many kids loved him I couldn't take him away,” Pruess said. “It's amazing how many parents use it as an educational opportunity to show their kids that they have bones inside like that. I hear it all the time.”

Cleetus the Great now greets visitors of the Old Town pet shop, usually sporting a Preuss Pets T-shirt.