October 24th, 2007

Even Vultures Deserve a Little Joy

In my quest to assign stories for the magazine after next, I have been trying to get in touch with a doctor in Scotland. (Yes, I have to leave the confines of the United States to find someone who might be willing to discuss the interaction of osteoporosis and fibromyalgia symptoms. I know—it’s not everyone who has such a glamorous job.)


And his email kept bouncing.


So this morning I got up extra early, dialed up the PR department of the university where he’s a lecturer, and explained my problem. The very solicitous (I don’t think non-solicitous people are permitted to answer the phone in Britain) PR rep instantly read me a completely different email for the doctor, and told me to try it. “If you have no joy,” she added, “let me know and I’ll see what I can do.”


Yes, it was only 5:15 a.m.—but still, that was the best line I’d heard all day.


Probably I’ll have to put her on speed-dial, so the next time I:

  • sprain my ankle
  • damage my personal property through general clumsiness
  • lose my checkbook
  • get frustrated with my finalfinalREALLYfinal re-write of my MG fantasy
  • fill in the blank

I can phone her up and tell her how much joy I am not having.


Actually, I would have liked to call her the other day—the day I got the doctor’s name in the first place. A researcher I had always thought of as kind and easy to work with happened to be in the office for the week, and I told him on Monday that I needed to speak with him about the magazine.


Thursday I spotted him in the hallway and hurried over, hovering discreetly—discreetly, I say—while he was finishing a conversation with someone else. When he glanced at me I smiled brilliantly (like those Orbit gum commercials. I’m pretty sure someone tinged a triangle as I did it). And he backed away—backed away—from me and said, “All week, it’s been like having a red-headed vulture hanging around. Just waiting.”


I had a lot of counterarguments to that one.


  1. While I am so, so not a vegetarian, I have never once lingered around a sick person (or other life form) waiting for it to keel over so I could dig in. Which, if “The Jungle Book” teaches us anything, is exactly what vultures do.
  2. I enjoy singing, but almost certainly do not have the harmonic experience necessary to do barbershop successfully (“Jungle Book” again).
  3. I bear virtually no resemblance to any avian, perhaps particularly vultures, given my proportionately-sized nose and lack of wings. Or claws. Or non-airplane-related flying ability.
  4. In all honesty, I had spent not one single second “hanging around” this guy. I greeted him in the hallway a couple of times. I just don’t think that qualifies.
  5. How can a sterling quality like persistence be compared to such an unpopular animal as a vulture? What about “hanging around like a trapeze artist?” Or “hanging around like a silky pashmina draped across the back of a wicker chair?” I mean, there are a lot of different directions he could have taken that simile. And pretty much any one of them would have been much more complimentary.
  6. But he is not British, and so perhaps I should cut him some slack in the Solicitousness Dept.
  7. I definitely had no joy of being the object of such a comparison. But hey—if this Scottish doctor takes on the assignment… I may just forgive that goofy researcher. (But not forget. That’s what blogs are for: keep the memory alive, baby!)

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