I Was a Teenage Mad Scientist 

Monday, January 23, 2006

People ask me all the time how I splice and dice genes, kneading toad poison into kittens, saturating ducklings with great white shark jaws and the like.

Yes, I am a genius.

Don't hate me because I'm smart.

Just remember the old saying, it's one percent inspiration and ninety-nine perspiration. It's true.

It wasn't always easy for me. You wouldn't believe it but in high school I was a jock. On the football team by day, a secret life as a champion bowler by night. A groin injury snatched me out of the big league.

I never forgot my love of bowling shoes, though. I spent hours crying into my pillow, clutching my shoes to my chest, trying to recall the scent of the alley as the musty fragrance slowly disappeared, inhaled into my eager nostrils.

Biochemistry class was my salvation. Hypotheses, theories, experiments, successes, it led me to the truths inherent in all living matter. Anyone could combine butterflies and piranhas. All you needed was vision.

Then there is the teacher everyone remembers. Mr. Petri Douche was mine.

One night, when the other students went home, I stayed behind, to see if I could add maggot DNA to canola. A harmless prank. I figured I could infect a few fields the next summer, during my family's annual roadtrip to Saskatchewan. Every kid goes through that stage.

Now Mr. Douche sniffed out my plans. Accused me of harvesting the insects off the fresh dead.

I have no idea how he knew I spent my Friday nights breaking into the morgue. Boy, was I busted. A prison term. Desecration of corpses. My mother sobbing at my hearing. How could her son, the athlete of the family, sink to intellectualism at all costs? Then what? Two years in the slammer sharing a bunk with some dude nursing a fantasy about the high school jock?

"Son, you are in trouble," said Mr. Douche, his bushy moustache quivering above his lip.

He licked his lips before he began again.

"If you continue down this path, in no time you'll be lynched." He paused. "Mob mentality. It's the same everywhere. Soon as people find out you've been messing with dead Aunt Francine, out come the torches and the pitchforks."

The silence as Mr. Douche watched me was agonizing. Just call the police already, I screamed inside my head. A couple of maggots had crawled away from the microscope and one mounted my pen, looking for dead flesh.

"Look, son, you're bright, mad even. But don't let me catch you fooling in the morgue again. Hell, keep away from cemeteries." Mr. Douche nodded. Then he said, "No self-respecting mad scientist does his own harvesting. There's no elegance in that." He rubbed a finger under his nose, ruffling up his moustache. Then he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a rolled-up newspaper.

"Page 49. Right at the back. All your evil sidekick options. Call one of those numbers. It's $3.99 a minute, they'll ask you if you're over nineteen. Say yes. Get yourself some slow-witted freak. And stop risking your life."

That summer, I met Sguk.

For all your help, Mr. Douche, in helping me attain success in my field, thank you so very much. I can't wait to meet you at the tenth year high school reunion!

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