We humans are not much different than cows -- have you ever seen how cows gather and stare when one of their herd is being slaughtered in the barnyard? It's the same response seen on the freeway as we rubberneck out the window to catch a glimpse of an accident, hoping to spot a severed head or a pool of fly-ridden blood. Hey, it's natural to wanna see gore and death -- it's part of life! Therefore, you owe it to your friends -- and to life itself, dammit -- to give the gift of morbidity.

DISEASED TISSUE SAMPLE

Down at the Laboratory of Pathology on First Hill, doctors routinely examine tissue samples shorn from patients suspected of being infested with disease. And, as a certain anonymous lab tech recently told us, many pathologists are not above taking bribes. So sidle up to the Lab of Path and hang around the elevators with a $20 bill in hand until some malleable white-coated geek strolls by. In return for the cash, you'll be able to pick up such goodies as a dermatafibroma (skin cyst), a prostate carcinoma, a streptococci that's been surging happily through someone's throat cells, or even something really cool, like an anal condylomata (butt wart). Whee-hoo! Pack it in a Petri dish, wrap it with ribbon, and give it to your dear one for a holiday to remember.

Laboratory of Pathology, 11th Floor, Nordstrom Tower, 1209 Madison, Suite 500.

SURGERY

Hospital costs are exorbitant, but those in the software industry with money to burn will want to consider giving the gift of surgery. At the UW Medical Center, a basic pinkie finger amputation runs a mere $7,780, and they'll throw the sawed-off digit into a jar of formaldehyde at no extra cost! And really, who needs a pinkie? Especially when you consider how cool your friend will feel having his in a jar on his desk at work. Moreover, people don't need both of their kidneys; healthy adults only need a small portion of one kidney to survive! So for fun, give a nephrectomy (cost, about $17,060, physician and anesthesiologist fees not included). Be sure to let your financially strapped pals know that they can sell that kidney on the black market and turn a tidy profit.

For a consultation, call the UW Dept. of Surgery at 543-3680.

MORBID READING MATERIAL

For the person in your life who's truly obsessed with gore, murder, and sadism, there can be no finer gift than a copy of Execution: Tools and Techniques, from those wild libertarian, anarcho-survivalist know-it-alls at Loompanics! This grotesque primer for the super death-fascinated, by Bart Rommel, contains highly detailed descriptions of various legal execution methods, as well as arcane methods such as entombment, drawing and quartering, and death by torture. It's got pictures too! Only $14.95.

For a catalogue, call 1-800-380-2230, or check out www.loompanics.com.