Friday, October 18, 2013

Turning into a Fly

Once in a while at work there is a slip up in protocol and somebody gets stuck by a needle.  When this happens there are procedures involved.  We test for this and that.  Things always work out.   But the other day when discussing such an incident I recalled that I am long overdue in my transformation into a fruit fly.

Back in college I did a little work for one of the biology professors.  I do not recall the particulars such as why I was doing this, or for how long, or whether I got paid.  It involved a study on the genetics of fruit flies.

Specifically they wondered if an infectious entity called "sigma virus" could piggy back some genetic material along when the little critters acquired it.  In addition to cooking up batches of fruit fly chow I had to help sort them out.  Toss in a little knock out gas, put them under a microscope and separate them into different groups based on things like eye color.  Fruit flies by the way have natural ruby red eyes.

Then various batches of dazed bugs were put into a big blender and emulsified.  Assorted chemicals and filtration techniques were involved and you got a tiny amount of extract supposedly containing sigma virus.

It was then my job to inject normal fruit flies with it and see if their descendants developed mutations. Like odd eye colors.

You may think it is difficult to inject fruit flies.  And correct you would be.  You take a very thin, tiny glass tube.  You heat it up and draw it out until it is nothing more than a hairlike wisp of glass, yet still hollow.  Then you carefully draw up a tiny shot of the stuff and under the microscope inject it into the abdomen of our little insect pals.

Did I mention the part about carefully?

Long, long ago.  Well before meeting future spouse I in fact did have a few other interests.  One rather striking young lady seemed to wander by the lab and chat on a more than random basis.  Nothing ever came of it as it turns out but maybe that was why in a distracted moment I accidentally poked the palm of my left hand with a dose of fruit fly sigma virus.

I got a little red mark there, one that not only perfectly duplicated the color of a fruit fly eye but also persisted for a year.

So I have long assumed that one day I would begin the transformation into a giant bug.

I prefer the more tasteful 1957 Vincent Price original version of The Fly.  The later remake did feature a comely Gina Davis (who oddly looks an awful lot like that co-ed from so long ago).  But Jeff Goldblum looks icky even without slime and bug special effects so I hope for some other fate.

So far I have not developed an excessive fondness for fruits and vegetables.  And recalling the intent of the original experiment I am happy to report that throughout childhood my kids have also displayed the customary and proper disdain for virtually all food items not consisting of starch and meat.

1 comment:

next door Laura said...

Umm...Hmmm... This story explains way more than you think it does.

I've got my big brown eye on you mister.