5 Historical Figures Who Lived Their Lives in Permanent Goblin Mode
Some of us are born with what people call a “Type A” personality, or an internal predilection for order and using both shampoo and conditioner. Starting our day with a neat, nutritious breakfast and ending it in a neatly made bed. Calendars so organized they look they’ve been constructed by a bricklayer, and an inbox that isn’t gurgling helplessly like a drowning rat as it tries to store an ungodly amount of unread emails.
I am not that person. I like to live my life with, let’s say, a little more emphasis on improvisation. But that doesn’t mean that those of us with Jenga-adjacent workspaces can’t achieve great things. After all, if the neatniks had their way, we’d have never discovered penicillin. History has its share of thoroughly messy individuals who, if they were around today, would have bedsheets just as full of crumbs as the rest of us, if not worse.
Here are five historical figures who lived their life in goblin mode…
Michelangelo is one of the greatest artists in history, known for creating things of incredible, timeless beauty. By all reports, though, his living space was not among those things, and his personal hygiene was responsible for the sort of odor that could clear every tourist out of the Sistine Chapel. He wasn’t a particular fan of socialization, and kept a bathing schedule that would ensure it was minimized.
Things became particularly disgusting the lower you moved down his body — and no, not that part, you perv. Apparently, Michelangelo would wear his boots pretty much 24/7, until his little tootsies were positively gasping for air. When he finally stripped off his footwear, according to Ascanio Condivi, his skin would come with them. Look, I may not hit the laundromat as often as I should, but at least none of my clothes are fused to my body.
Paracelsus was an ancient doctor with one specific area of interest: alchemy. Now, alchemy might seem pretty cool, what with all the minerals and bubbling beakers and being the basis for some pretty excellent anime. What the neater representations of alchemy avoid, however, is its necessity for mixing up all manner of nasty little liquids. It’s not all saltpeter and silver and cool-colored flames.
One of Paracelsus’ grossest pet projects (literally) was his attempt to create a homunculus, an old-timey term for what we now know as a “little guy.” The recipe Paracelsus followed in his efforts to create life without copulation, probably because an alchemical lab doesn’t exactly welcome conjugal visitors, included combining sperm, blood and horseshit in a jar. Worst of all, it wasn’t supposed to be an immediate reaction, so he had to keep what was basically a miniature music festival porta-potty around for 40 days. Really let those flavors marry, you know?
As a foremost sex symbol in modern society, you’d think that being in Marilyn Monroe’s direct personal space would have been a highly pleasant experience. And for those like John F. Kennedy, I’m sure it was. People might have been a little less eager to get between her sheets, though, once they realized what else might have been in there, like, reportedly, a whole lot of food. We’re not just talking cookie crumbs and an occasional soy-sauce stain, either — when she was finished eating in bed, she reportedly stored leftovers under her sheets.
But to even discover her little culinary caches, you’d first have to fight through what was apparently not a particularly lovely personal odor. She hated bathing, and loved farting, a like/dislike combination that doesn’t invite many nostrils pointed in your direction. To be honest, the whole thing might just make her sexual energy more impressive, given that most men and plenty of women would have still cut off their leg for an evening in her company.
When most people think of Ancient Greek philosophers, they probably imagine a regal, thoughtful thinker, posed similarly to the famous statue. Diogenes, however, was very much not that. First of all, he lived in an empty storage jar, a choice so deeply strange that’s hard to embellish for the sake of comedy. His old-school Oscar the Grouch style living quarters were just the beginning, too. He was also known for eating food off the ground and masturbating in public, as well as shitting pretty much where and whenever the need arose, not that his home/jar offered an en-suite bathroom.
Gross, to be sure, but his living style was also a calculated choice, one Diogenes intended as a statement. He hated, above all, people’s need to follow societally-approved customs and behavior. The dude was basically an ancient crust punk, who probably would have loved G.G. Allin. Replace Greece with New York City and he’d probably be posted up in a subway station covered in Crass patches, doling out quotes like, “In a rich man’s house there is no place to spit but his face.”
So far, every entry has been someone who, for whatever reason, has chosen to be a bit of a goblin. This entry is about a guy who was, as far as anyone can tell, a bona fide mental and medical freakazoid. Born a peasant, the man known as “Tarrare” was famous for being constantly, insatiably hungry. He would eat continually, and “being food” was not necessarily a requirement for what he tossed down his gullet.
He also reportedly had a deformed jaw pulled straight from a snake’s schematics and would put it to full use, swallowing entire baskets of apples, trash and occasionally, uh, live cats. He would then distribute whatever he ate out the traditional exit posthaste, accompanied by a deeply horrific smell. As with any medical marvel, the military quickly became curious and tried using Tarrare as a very stinky sort of secret messenger, having him swallow a box with a message inside to be delivered beyond enemy lines. It didn’t work, and Tarrare continued to live a fairly cursed life, until a rumor that he’d eaten a baby got him kicked out of polite society.
To be fair, that’s pretty much a massive no-no in any era.