Scientists are crazy people. Though my mother would say that they have far too much time on their hands. When my brother Jack was fifteen and suddenly announced he wanted to be a scientist, she put her brand new Ferragamo pumps firmly down and said, “Over my dead body!”
Scientists, she went on, were just busy bodies who had nothing better to do except meddle in things they had no business meddling in. And to make things worse, they never made any money at all. “Show me a rich scientist,” she challenged.
My sister Michelle was outraged. “Excuse me, but who do you think came up with all those creams you slather on your face each night to keep yourself looking young? Scientists! And who came up with the pill that stops your headaches? Scientists!”
“And who, young lady,” my mother shot back, “is clothing you and feeding you and sending you to ballet classes and giving you an education that allows you to talk back to your mother in such disrespectful tones? A banker!”
Years later, Michelle would say that a banker was also sending her into weekly therapy sessions. “Honestly, it’s amazing we’re not more damaged than we actually are!”
Anyway, about those crazy scientists.
Sometimes, they’re busy building massive nuclear bombs that could potentially destroy the world a thousand times over. At others, they’re peering diligently into microscopes and spinning test-tubes trying to find a cure for cancer for people their colleagues down the corridor are trying to eventually blow up.
Then there are scientists who spend a lot of time looking at dogs poo.
The other day, we were all at the breakfast table completely ignoring each other and reading our morning briefings. By which I mean, I was utterly absorbed in US Weekly’s picture profile of Kim Kardashian’s weight, Amanda was staring at a $5000 Prada dress in Vogue, while Saffy was scrolling through her Facebook page.
Suddenly, Saffy gasped. Her eyes widened as her thumb scrolled down her feed. Our phones pinged.
“I just sent you two a link to this amazing article! You have got to read it!” she said, her formidable bosom trembling like perfectly set jelly.
Turns out a group of twelve German and Czech scientists have spent the past two years watching dogs poo. And 1,893 poos and 5,582 pees later, the team has reached one incredible finding and I quote: "Dogs prefer to excrete with the body being aligned along the north–south axis."
Saffy was astonished. “Isn’t that amazing?”
“It sure is,” Amanda said. “It’s amazing that someone actually paid 12 scientists to spend two years watching dogs poo and pee!”
Saffy spluttered. “But…but…don’t you see what that means?”
“Some people have too much time on their hands?” Amanda said channeling my mother in a tone that indicated that she actually didn’t want an answer to that question. She went back to flipping through Vogue.
Undaunted, Saffy turned to me. “This may explain why I have chronic constipation! Maybe our toilet bowl is facing the wrong direction!”
“Uhm…” I began.
“It makes complete sense, no?” Saffy went on. By now, her bosom had inflated to a dangerous volume. “It’s like how I can’t sleep when there’s a full moon. Maybe it’s all because I’m so attuned to the cosmic rhythms of nature!”
“Yes, maybe…” I said slowly.
“So which direction is our toilet facing?” Saffy wanted to know, her fevered imagination firmly gripped in a James Cameron Avatar fantasy in which she was some Earth Mother who was out of sync with the universe’s energy.
At my blank look, Saffy turned to Amanda. “Hello! Which direction is our toilet facing?”
“How the hell would I know?” Amanda snapped. “I'm not a real estate agent!”
Undeterred, Saffy rushed out to buy herself a compass. Which of course is a lot more difficult than it sounds. She arrived at VivoCity to discover that the National Geographic store had shut down leaving no forwarding address.
Fuming, she schlepped back into town only to be told at The Planet Traveller that the last one had just been purchased but that new stock was on its way.
“But I need that compass now! I need to poo!” Saffy told the shop assistant who slowly backed away, no doubt imagining that Saffy was about to squat down in the travel gadgets aisle. She pointed a trembling finger towards the exit and said, “The toilet is just around the corner, miss!”
“Does it face north-south?” Saffy wanted to know.
My mother says it’s a tragedy that Saffy’s father wasted all his money on her education.