"Why? Good question. If I say
'Because I was curious,' is that insufficient?
If I say 'I was goofing around,' does that make it worse? Research, to a researcher,
is its own justification. Unlike the University that pretends their
projects have politically correct applications, I am a purist. I did it
because I could. I did it because the party at issue was functionally brain-dead
and the likelihood of her ever staging a comeback was absolutely nil. Or
maybe I did it to flummox the ICU staff, whose vanity turns their unit
into God Almighty’s antechamber, specialists who believe they can
raise the doornail dead."
"You don’t much like doctors, do you, Stuy?"
Juliana’s tone makes Stuyvesant
cringe, her bleeding-heart compassion the
antithesis of all he venerates, her touchy-feely empathy an insult to
cutting-edge analyses. Working with the preemies (he conjectures)
must make people saps.
"Why are you,
like, practicing medicine, then, if…?"
"like" practicing medicine; I'm practicing medicine to treat people,
to make them better, and ultimately to alter them."
sounds Mephistophelian! Alter them, like how?"
"Oh, tweak a
chromosome here, splice a gene in there, mess around with germ line therapies."
producing another tragic mistake like the one they just delivered from that
'mistake' is a
"Ambiguous genitalia can,
like, hardly be considered 'a breakthrough'... Wait a
minute. You tampered with that child’s genes before you implanted
whatever—him, her, it? Stuy! I thought you were saving a baby, not, like,
making one up!"
Stuyvesant looks around at the coffeehouse denizens, most of whom are busy with
their laptops (while slurping frothy lattés), idlers, he considers them; most
are students; none, he hopes, is eavesdropping.
least you have enough conscience to feel a bit, like, embarrassed. If you weren’t,
fiancé, I’d like, you know, turn you in."
Stuyvesant has, indeed, proposed to Juliana. Motivated by money? Juliana is rich. Motivated by passion? Juliana
the void he seeks to fill has little to do with conventional mating;
she, if right, is merely half right. Which is not to say a male would
more fully serve. Unless that male was Rockefeller Fink, Stuyvesant’s phantom brother.
Juliana shuts her eyes to conceal a secret rapture. Even so, her lashes subtly quiver
with incriminating zeal. How to describe these overwhelming rushes? In out-take
form, she tries:
It’s like, you
know, like my whole body kind of buzzes, like hums almost, vibrates, that’s what
it does, like everywhere, head to foot, just because he’s, I don’t know,
exciting or something, like dangerous, like unpredictable, and so, so smart, he
makes me feel like privileged, well, you know, like why would someone like him
choose someone like me, not that I’m stupid or anything, but he’s like super,
super intelligent and not at all like most men that only want, well, you know,
s, e, x, I mean he’s normal, like heterosexual, not that being gay is bad or
anything but, you know, what they do when they’re together is a bit, well, over
the top, but Stuyvesant’s real respectful, and doesn’t mind at all that I’m like
flat-chested, and even said I should stop getting waxed, if you can imagine a
man that doesn’t mind body hair, and believe you me I’m like Fuzzy Wuzzy before
he lost his hair, and maybe that’s like why I get this
buzz, like hair standing up all over, up and down my arms, my legs, and even in
between, which sounds kind of kinky, I admit, but this sensation does, well, you
know, like get me a little wet, but it really isn’t sexual so much as psychological,
like my mind is what is responding and my body’s just doing what bodies do, you
know, like being nasty, making all those clammy drools and smells, I mean, like once
you’ve seen a birth, and I’ve seen dozens, sex and what it leads to loses most
of its appeal, which is one more thing I absolutely love about a future life
with Stuyvesant, like if we want to have children we don’t have to go
about it by fuddy-duddy means, like why not use in vitro so we can like
choose our baby’s attributes, maybe even grow it in an artificial womb, or at
least outside of mine; birth’s yucky, I mean, why bear all that horrible blood
and pain, not to mention wear and tear on the female's private parts; no thank you,
and Stuyvesant agrees it's like unfair; men and women are very different
genetically but ought to have like equal rights, like equal opportunities, too, which is
tough when only girls get pregnant, well, you know, whatever.
Stuyvesant downs the last of his black no-nonsense coffee, second thoughts
eroding his tenuous peace of mind. Taking Juliana for his confidante might
"like" prove imprudent. Taking Juliana for his wife might "like" prove
chronically annoying. And boasting about his laboratory prowess certainly
was ill-advised... if understandable; breakthroughs, such as his in creating
the implant, warrant recognition—laurels even—but that route might prove
ruinous; humans experimenting on humans incur more censure than hard-earned praise... not
that Stuyvesant subscribes to the prevailing ethnocentric ethics,
reasoning that those who benefit from research ought to be recruited as
pigs—knock-out mice, for example, are made susceptible to all sorts of
diseases afflicting humans not fellow rodents; from monkeys to
bacteria, species other-than-human are 'justifiably'
sacrificed, most dying painful, protracted, and unacknowledged deaths, while
ethicists absolve themselves of cruelty and callousness by exalting
their God-like status—tantamount to a double standard in Stuyvesant’s
post-grad mind: one set of rules for the chosen and another for those deemed
subordinate, all God's children, in other words, duly sanctioned to reign
supreme, a brand of ethnocentricity to which he cannot subscribe... when
thinking clearly, that is... when able to peel his ego from his reason and
view things objectively... a mental, almost surgical separation dividing
psyche from psyche, self from self-love—the blinding sort that pledges
allegiance to its own imperfections... hailing them as distinguishing
features hence disinclined to change... or to initiate
improvements, permanent improvements, passed on through ones genes...
"Excuse me, Juliana. I’m off to