Saturday, November 15, 2008

Forum (Day 1)

A couple of months ago, while I was enjoying my lengthy vacation, I had a phone call from the Health Department asking me if I’d like to be involved in a community consultation forum on the subject of genetic research. It would be over two weekends, it would pay a small consideration, and it would help the Health Department formulate policy on a complicated emerging scientific field.

Lulled by being on holiday for two weeks, and interested in both the topic and the money, I said, “Sure, why not.”

Naturally after I went back to work and plunged into the busiest part of my year, suddenly the idea of spending two entire weekends locked in a conference room attending workshops and watching powerpoint presentations seemed a lot less attractive. But I figured since I’d agreed to do it I’d better keep my word, so I got up early this morning and scooted off to the anonymous modern building where the forum was being held.

There I was introduced to my fellow forum members. One of the first people I met was a septuagenarian whom I’ll call Roger. Roger was very softly spoken, and ballooned in the middle as if he’d swallowed a beach ball at some stage and it had become lodged in his colon. He seemed nice enough when I chatted with him, although I was just the tiniest bit disconcerted that he wouldn’t give me a straight answer about what he did. He said that he was retired, but he avoided saying precisely what he’d retired from.

I didn’t think much of it until a couple of hours later, when he approached me as I made myself a cup of coffee during the morning break.

“Has anyone ever told you,” he asked me, “that you have beautiful skin?”

I must admit that my first reaction, for almost a complete second, was bewilderment. What? No I bloody haven’t! I’ve seen myself in mirrors! I have big pores and my tan is uneven and… er… wait a second…

And then my beautiful skin tried to crawl off me and slither out the door.

Honestly, how do you live more than seven decades without learning that you don’t go around telling people that they have beautiful skin? Man or woman, gay or straight, young or old, single or married, you JUST DON’T SAY IT. Because on at least one level, and probably several more, it’s very, very creepy. We’re talking “sniffing a stranger’s hair on the train” creepy.

So there we were, barely two hours into a four day conference, and already I had to strenuously avoid one person. Maybe I should wear this T-shirt to the next meeting.


Anonymous be.bart said...

Try 'Your hide would make a nice circus tent'

7:37 PM  
Blogger emawkc said...

Based on his comment to you, my guess is that Roger was a retired tailor.

"It's puts the lotion on its skin..."

2:10 AM  

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