Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The next thing you know you’re wearing a puffy shirt on national television

One of the undergraduates in our lab was a “low-talker,” just like that pirate-shirt woman on Seinfeld. For the purposes of this blog, I shall give this undergraduate the nickname “7UP” because he already had a nickname that was just as silly.

So, like I said, 7UP was a “low talker.” On many many occassions, I would ask 7UP a question, say for example, “Hey, 7UP. What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” 7UP would reply, “I’m going home to my mom’s for dinner.” The rest of the conversation would go like this:

ME: What?

7UP: I’m going home to my mom’s for dinner.

ME: I’m sorry?

7UP: I said I’m going home to my mom’s for dinner.

ME: 7UP, I can’t hear you. Can you speak up?

7UP: I said I’m going home to my mom’s for dinner.

ME: [nod and smile]

I found this very frustrating. It didn’t matter so much if I was just making small talk, as in the above example, but sometimes 7UP would ask me a more important question, such as where to put reagents, or something, and it would be 10 minutes of me saying “What? What? Put the what in the where? For the love of God, man, SPEAK UP!”

But there was more to 7UP than just low-talking. 7UP was a white Jewish boy from Princeton who worked out, read philosophy, and listened to Snoop Doggy Dog. Once, 7UP was trying to help me understand a pop culture reference by saying, “You know, like on Snoop’s new album.” (I’m sorry, I mean that he said, “You know, like on Snoop’s new album.” And for any readers who have not met me, let’s just say that me and Snoop’s new album – not so much familiar.) But 7UP’s admiration for Snoop faded, and 7UP was once heard to say, very gravely, “Doktah, I’m not even sure I know who Snoop is anymore.”

The Doktah once asked 7UP if he could feed her cells for her one day when she wasn’t going to be in the lab. The next day, The Doktah found a note: “Doktah, I hope that feeding cells is the same thing as splitting cells, because that’s what I did.” Well, they’re not the same thing, and all the cells died because they were too sparse. Not such an unreasonable mistake except that both Baseball Cap Guy and I had been sitting right there, and 7UP could easily have asked.

7UP was also very skittish. A simple “Hey, how’s it going,” would make 7UP start dramatically. He would react as though someone had snuck up on him, grabbed his shoulders, and screamed in his ear. I don’t know why, maybe everyone in his family is a low talker, so anything louder than this sounded like a shout to 7UP.

I mentioned that 7UP worked out. And boy did he. One summer day, 7UP arrived at the lab, sweaty and shirtless with a heart rate monitor strapped to his chest. He had just been biking. He opened the lab door, took off his headphones and said, in a sultry voice, “I gotta take a shower.” Then he left, presumably to take a shower. I guess he just wanted to keep us apprised.

No comments: