Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dating & Science Clash

Is knowledge a curse or is it a gift? I believe one can argue either side. In my case, however, it was a detriment. Biology is a wonderful field, but apparently not everybody agrees. I had simplemindedly assumed that all people liked plants and animals. This was incorrect…

My first date with Ashley was a beautifully romantic experience…that is until we actually got together. My girlfriend had spent about 5 minutes leaning against her car waiting for me to show up that evening. The weather was beautiful; an early fall night, the sky clear, an occasional wisp of cloud darting across the half-crescent of the shining moon. Ashley was waiting there breathing lightly in the still-warm air; relishing the breeze caressing her hair.

When I arrived we embraced. Neither of us had planned anything for the evening, so I suggested we take a walk for a while to perhaps conjure some ideas for the night. Everything I said and did after this was disastrous.

Along the sidewalk we strolled, beside a residential area, holding hands (okay, so not everything I did was foolhardy), admiring the sleeping neighborhood and the lovely yards. I bent to pick a small rose from a flower bed beside me. Ashley’s eyes lit up. “How cute,” she was undoubtedly thinking. “He’s going to present me a rose snitched from a flowerbed at night.” This is where I made my first mistake, verifying for all those unsure that I am completely incompetent. I held it out to her, and I saw the girlish smile begin to emerge on her face. I then explained what kind of rose it was, the family and the variety, even the Latin name, and then I ran back to my car to press it in a book for later. In hindsight, her expression displayed great disappointment. But at the time I was so excited by my recent find that I hardly noticed. On we walked. The clouds were gathering…

Ashley should have left at that point, but she apparently opted to give me a second chance. This did not help. As we continued on I pointed out other plants I noticed; trees, shrubs, flowers. I’m sure I emanated a childlike exuberance at being able to identify these plants, even mentioning interesting tidbits, such as edibility or specific uses of a wood. A couple of times she tried to embark on a tangent to describe her day or to engage me in a more general topic of discussion, but I was too caught up in what I was doing to see the obvious. When I saw the interesting road kill, however, Ashley did choose to leave.

“Oh look!” I blurted. “There’s a dead raccoon in the road.” Though I’m not sure, I think that normal people overlook road kill, partly out of some strange respect to the deceased, and also because the poor creatures are generally somewhat mangled and rancid. I neglected to consider this as I dragged her into the street to poke at it with a stick. I used it to prod around and identify the gender of the poor animal.

“See, it’s a male, and pretty old too, judging by the condition of the teeth. But wow, these maggots are sure making a fine feast of it” I didn’t need open the mouth, as a sufficient quantity of flesh was missing as to allow easy viewing. Ashley turned away, swallowing hard. I didn’t notice this though, because I was too busy looking for cars that might accidentally run us over. I went on to point out little facts about the pelt, even identified a few organs. When I next turned around to confirm that Ashley had understood all I just explained, she was 100 yards away jogging towards her car.

I didn’t try to catch her, because it was slowly dawning on me that there was a rank carcass squashed into the road next to me and there were cars bearing down on me. I returned to the sidewalk to avoid traffic. On the way back to my car I picked a couple more little roses, in case the first one didn’t turn out when I pressed it. I didn’t need anymore dead raccoons in the freezer. I still had to dissect the two I already had.

Biologist SWM ISO of biologist SWF who enjoys long walks and talking about nature. We can identify plants together, maybe more…must love animals, living and dead.

Copyright © 2001, Ben Shaw
All Rights Reserved


  1. I can testify, just as a friend, this is very true of you. Whether it be a good quality, or a weight you must bear your whole life, you will always find the science in the beauty... Their is someone out there who shares your thrill of dead animals and squished roses. It may however take many more ruined dates to find her.

  2. You are such a nerd. I can relate to every aspect of this situation. It is hilarious.

  3. Man, I should not have read this post while eating lunch. (Barf)

  4. I agree Betty, I just finished a stuffed pepper for dinner and I do not feel so well.

  5. Maybe you just need to find someone who's impressed by your stunning intellect... ;)

  6. This would have been funny to see Ichabod.