12 Unusual Marriages Involving Non-Human Partners

The Eiffel Tower was involved in one of the most prominent non-human marriages.
The Eiffel Tower was involved in one of the most prominent non-human marriages.
Pedro Szekely, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

The history of marriage is colorful, to say the least. Over the centuries, people have married for various reasons, whether it be the formation of a strategic alliance, economic advantage, or simply because two people (and sometimes more) have fallen in love. As for old wedding traditions, they’ve included everything from booby traps to obscene songs. In our modern age, marriage still presents some unusual situations—especially when it comes to people marrying their non-human partners.

1. The Berlin Wall

One of the first widely publicized cases of objectophilia, or objectum-sexuality, was that of Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer, who claimed to have married the Berlin Wall in 1979. Berliner-Mauer, whose surname means “Berlin Wall,” was distraught when the wall was torn down in 1989.

2. The Eiffel Tower

Perhaps the most famous name in the world of objectum-sexuality is Erika Eiffel, who, along with Berliner-Mauer, helped found Objectum Sexuality Internationale. Eiffel married the Eiffel Tower in 2007, after a 10-year courtship. It wasn’t her first non-human partner. Before marrying the Parisian tower, she had relationships with her Japanese sword, her archery bow (she was a successful competitive archer), and the tower crane that she operates. She has since separated from the Eiffel Tower, but remains a powerful voice within the OS community, which she often defends against attacks and misconceptions.

3. A Train Station

The old Santa Fe Depot in California.Doug Letterman, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Carol Santa Fe, who identifies as an objectum sexual, married California's Santa Fe train station in 2015. The marriage is not legally binding, but Santa Fe said the two had been in love with each other for 36 years and it was time to tie the knot. Santa Fe also says the train station is a female called Daidra.

4. A Pillow

Lee Jin-gyu had been dating a large pillow for six years before finally marrying it in a special ceremony in 2010. It’s no ordinary pillow, but rather a dakimakura, a type of oversized Japanese pillow that normally has the image of a popular anime character printed on one side. The image on Lee’s dakimakura is Fate Testarossa, a female anime character from the series Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. He takes his pillow-wife everywhere, including to restaurants, parks, and fairgrounds.

5. A Barbie Doll

“Man Marries Barbie Doll” sounds like a classically frivolous tabloid headline, but the story of Chang Hsi-hsum’s marriage to an 11-inch piece of plastic is actually quite touching. Twenty years previously, Chang’s human wife, Tsai, died by suicide because her family opposed their marriage. He believed her spirit lived on in the Barbie doll, which he married in a Buddhist temple in 1999. This time, however, he had the full blessing of his deceased wife’s family, who hoped that Tsai could now forgive them.

6. Fairground Rides

Two self-proclaimed objectum sexuals have fallen for fairground rides. Linda Ducharme first met “Bruce,” a Ferris wheel-like ride, in 1982. She had previously had feelings for an airplane and a train, but with Bruce she found true love. But tragedy struck in 1986 when a storm knocked out the ride, forcing the two apart. Ducharme was reunited with Bruce 25 years later when the ride was discovered rusting away in a scrap yard. They married in 2012. In 2009, Amy Wolfe, a 33-year-old Pennsylvania woman, married the 1001 Nachts, an 80-foot gondola ride at the Knoebels Amusement Park.

7. A Cardboard Cutout of Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson speaking at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California.Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2013, Lauren Adkins married a cardboard cutout of the vampire Edward Cullen, as portrayed by Robert Pattinson in the Twilight movies. The press got hold of the story and eagerly told of her “obsession” with Pattinson, and how she climbed up to the Hollywood sign with her cardboard lover. What they failed to mention, however, was that Adkins, a Fine Arts student at the University of Nevada, was doing the whole thing as part of her thesis project called Love is Overtaking Me. As this interview with Adkins makes clear, her reasons for marrying the cardboard cutout were tied to an examination of the myth of “true love”—an aspect of the story ignored by many newspapers.

8. A Snake

When a woman in the East Indian state of Orissa announced her plans to marry a snake, local villagers were very much in favor of the union, saying it would bring good fortune to the area. And so, on the day of the wedding, more than 2000 people turned out to celebrate the Hindu marriage between woman and cobra. The snake didn’t attend the wedding, but was represented by a brass replica.

9. Trees

An Elder tree.TF 3000, Pixabay // Public Domain

In 2018, Karen Cooper married a 100-year-old ficus tree in her local park in Fort Myers, Florida. The marriage was part of a neighborhood effort to save the tree from being cut down by local authorities. A similar tactic was used a year later in the UK, when Kate Cunningham, now Kate Elder, wed an elder tree in Rimrose Valley, Liverpool, in an attempt to halt plans to build a new bypass through the park. There’s also the story of Emma McCabe, who, according to Closer magazine, had a sexual relationship with a poplar tree named Tim, who she planned to marry. The story went viral, despite questions regarding the veracity of the tree-hugging tale.

10. A Cardboard Cutout of Himself

Liu Ye married a life-sized cutout of himself wearing a red bridal gown. The traditional Chinese wedding took place in 2007, with guests and bemused local villagers watching the proceedings. The groom stated that dissatisfaction with reality was his main reason for marrying himself. He wasn’t the first person to take self-love to a whole different level. In 2005, New Yorker Kevin Nadal married himself in celebration of the single life.

11. The Ghost of a Haitian Pirate

When Amanda Large Teague married the ghost of a 300-year-old Haitian pirate, the world was quick to ridicule her. More laughter followed when she “divorced” the ghost, named Jack Teague, not long after, due to serious health problems that she believed were caused by her new husband. But the story had an underlying complexity ignored by most media reports—though most outlets sensationalized her unusual marriage, The Washington Post dives deeper into the story, detailing how the ghost was part of Teague's experiences with New Age spiritualism after the death of her 3-year-old son. 

12. A Chandelier (Almost)

Amanda Liberty hasn’t yet married her partner, a 1920s chandelier named Lumiere, but her relationship continues to make headlines in the UK. In 2020, Liberty, from Leeds, launched a discrimination case against The Sun after the newspaper mocked her in print for her choice of partner. She complained to the UK’s Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), arguing that the article was “pejorative to her sexual orientation.” IPSO dismissed the case, stating that “the complainant’s attraction to an object did not fall within the definition of sexual orientation as provided by Clause 12 and the terms of Clause 12 were not engaged.”

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More

Apple
Apple

During this weekend's three-day sale on the Mental Floss Shop, you'll find deep discounts on products like AirPods, Martha Stewart’s bestselling pressure cooker, and more. Check out the best deals below.

1. Apple AirPods Pro; $219

Apple

You may not know it by looking at them, but these tiny earbuds by Apple offer HDR sound, 30 hours of noise cancellation, and powerful bass, all through Bluetooth connectivity. These trendy, sleek AirPods will even read your messages and allow you to share your audio with another set of AirPods nearby.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

2. Sony Zx220bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones (Open Box - Like New); $35

Sony

For the listener who likes a traditional over-the-ear headphone, this set by Sony will give you all the same hands-free calling, extended battery power, and Bluetooth connectivity as their tiny earbud counterparts. They have a swivel folding design to make stashing them easy, a built-in microphone for voice commands and calls, and quality 1.18-inch dome drivers for dynamic sound quality.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

3. Sony Xb650bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones; $46

Sony

This Sony headphone model stands out for its extra bass and the 30 hours of battery life you get with each charge. And in between your favorite tracks, you can take hands-free calls and go seamlessly back into the music.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

4. Martha Stewart 8-quart Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker; $65

Martha Stewart

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

5. Jashen V18 350w Cordless Vacuum Cleaner; $180

Jashen

If you're obsessive about cleanliness, it's time to lose the vacuum cord and opt for this untethered model from JASHEN. Touting a 4.3-star rating from Amazon, the JASHEN cordless vacuum features a brushless motor with strong suction, noise optimization, and a convenient wall mount for charging and storage.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

6. Evachill Ev-500 Personal Air Conditioner; $65

Evachill

This EvaChill personal air conditioner is an eco-friendly way to cool yourself down in any room of the house. You can set it up at your work desk at home, and in just a few minutes, this portable cooling unit can drop the temperature by 59º. All you need to do is fill the water tank and plug in the USB cord.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

7. Gourmia Gcm7800 Brewdini 5-Cup Cold Brew Coffee Maker; $120

Gourmia

The perfect cup of cold brew can take up to 12 hours to prepare, but this Gourmia Cold Brew Coffee Maker can do the job in just a couple of minutes. It has a strong suction that speeds up brew time while preserving flavor in up to five cups of delicious cold brew at a time.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

8. Townew: The World's First Self-Sealing Trash Can; $90

Townew

Never deal with handling gross garbage again when you have this smart bin helping you in the kitchen. With one touch, the Townew will seal the full bag for easy removal. Once you grab the neatly sealed bag, the Townew will load in a new clean one on its own.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

9. Light Smart Solar Powered Parking Sensor (Two-Pack); $155

FenSens

Parking sensors are amazing, but a lot of cars require a high trim to access them. You can easily upgrade your car—and parking skills—with this solar-powered parking sensor. It will give you audio and visual alerts through your phone for the perfect parking job every time.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

10. Liz: The Smart Self-Cleaning Bottle With UV Sterilization; $46

Noerden

Reusable water bottles are convenient and eco-friendly, but they’re super inconvenient to get inside to clean. This smart water bottle will clean itself with UV sterilization to eliminate 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. That’s what makes it clean, but the single-tap lid for temperature, hydration reminders, and an anti-leak functionality are what make it smart.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

14 Facts About International Talk Like A Pirate Day

iStock
iStock

Ahoy, me hearties! As many of you know, September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, an annual phenomenon that’s taken the world by storm, having been observed by every continent, the International Space Station, and even the Oval Office since it first made headlines back in 2002. So let’s hoist the Jolly Roger, break out the rum, and take a look back at the holiday’s timber-shivering history.

1. Talk Like a Pirate Day was originally conceived of on D-Day.

Talk Like a Pirate Day creators John Baur and Mark Summer (who’ve since acquired the nicknames “Ol’ Chumbucket” and “Cap’n Slappy,” respectively) created the holiday while playing racquetball on June 6, 1995—the 51st anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. Out of respect to the battle’s veterans, a new observance date was quickly sought.

2. September 19th also happens to be the birthday of the ex-wife of the holiday's co-creator.

“[September 19th was] the only date we could readily recall that wasn’t already taken up with Christmas or the Super Bowl or something,” the pair later claimed. Summers claims to harbor no ill will toward his former spouse, who has since stated, “I’ve never been prouder to be his ex-wife!

3. Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry is largely responsible for popularizing the holiday.

Dave Barry was so smitten with the holiday after having been introduced to it via email in early 2002 that he dedicated an entire column to its publicity that September, turning an inside joke into a global sensation. He later went on to make a cameo appearance in one of Baur and Summers’s buccaneer-themed music videos in 2011 (look for him in the video above at the 3:25 mark).

4. Real pirates spoke in a wide variety of dialects.

Despite some extensive “English-to-Pirate” dictionaries that have cropped up all over the Internet the idea that all pirates shared a common accent regardless of national origin is historically absurd, as National Geographic pointed out in 2011.

5. Actor Robert Newton is hailed as the "patron saint" of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

So where did the modern “pirate dialect” come from? Summers and Baur credit actor Robert Newton's performance in Treasure Island (1950) and have accordingly dubbed him the “patron saint” of their holiday. Tasked with breathing life into the scheming buccaneer, Newton simply exaggerated his native West Country accent and the rest is history.

6. John Baur's family was featured on a pirate-themed episode of Wife Swap.

The reality show’s highly-anticipated 2006 season premiere pitted the Baurs (in full pillaging regalia) against a family which, according to John’s wife Tori (a.k.a. “Mad Sally”), “behaved as though ‘fun’ was something that had to be pre-packaged for their protection.”

7. John Baur was also on Jeopardy!

Baur was described to the audience as “a writer and pirate from Oregon” in his 2008 appearance. “I didn’t win,” Baur said, “but the introduction made Alex blink.”

8. International Talk Like a Pirate Day has become a cornerstone of the Pastafarian movement.

Bobby Henderson, founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, cited Earth’s dwindling pirate population as the clear source of global warming in his 2005 open letter to the Kansas school board which established the religion. Since then, Talk Like A Pirate Day has been observed by devout Pastafarians worldwide. 

9. A Florida mayor once ignited a local controversy for making an official Talk Like a Pirate Day proclamation.

In 2012, Lake Worth, Florida Mayor Pam Triolo lightheartedly urged her constituents to embrace the holiday last year, writing, “The City … is known to possess a spirit of independence, high spirits, and swashbuckling, all traits of a good pirate.” Her actions were criticized by the city’s former commissioner, Jo-Ann Golden, who took offense to the association with murderous seamen.

10. Day of the Ninja was created in response to Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Not to be outdone by their hated rivals, the pro-ninja community was quick to execute the first annual Day of the Ninja on December 5, 2002. For Summers and Baur’s take on the warring factions, see the clip above.

11. Astronauts once celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day aboard the International Space Station.

In a 2012 interview, Summers recalled being “informed that the astronauts on the International Space Station were awakened to ‘A Pirate’s Life For Me' and joined in the pirate talk from space.”

12. President Obama once celebrated with a costumed buccaneer in the Oval Office.

In 2012, Barack Obama tweeted this image on Talk Like a Pirate Day with the caption “Arr you in?”

13. A congressman later used the holiday to slam President Obama's tax plan.

In 2011, Florida’s 12th congressional district representative Dennis Ross used the festivity as a political punchline after Obama made a speech detailing his tax plan, tweeting, “It is TALK like a pirate day … not ACT like one. Watch ye purses and bury yr loot, the taxman cometh.”

14. It's an official holiday in the state of Michigan.

On June 4, 2013, state senator Roger Kahn’s proposal to grant International Talk Like A Pirate Day official acknowledgement from the Michigan government was formally adopted, to the chagrin of some dissenting landlubbers. 

This story originally ran in 2013.