Hey, I would have posted on my beloved Xanga a month and a half ago… were it not for this damn drug trial and my agreement with the firm.
Anyway, it’s all over, and I guess I can now ‘tell-all’. Read on…
Synopsis: Franji, in her to-die-for white lab jacket, ends up knowing more than her ‘double-blind’ professional role allows. Torn between her love and empathy for one innocent participant (me) she does cartwheels in the verbal air to try and spill the beans without in so many words jeopardizing the 3.5 million dollar Upjohn project.
Let’s start at the beginning, ok?
My house, on a map, is about 1 miles from the sleepy hamlet known as Mount Nebo. But as the crow flies, it’s got to be at least 1.414 miles, since I live in a valley barely above sea level, and Mt. Nebo is the highest point in the entire Lancaster County. From the parking lot up there one can gaze into three counties and two states. it’s four miles by winding mountain road to the little general store , and if you run out of gas you can coast the whole way home in neutral. In my situation that’s a decided plus.I’m not sure why I even added this part to the story, other than local colour.
Speaking of color, I’m hopelessly attracted to women in medical attire. (Even if @murisopsis didn’t write stellar poems and prose, I’d still be sub-ed to her out of pure fetishist desire.)
So… I’m at the Mt.Nebo Store for, I don’t know, ketchup or something, and this red-headed ‘Franji’, as it turns out, shows all the signs of wanting to converse with me. Must have been something pessimistic I said. Ten minutes into a surprisingly deep conversation in the parking lot and I already learned that she was basically in charge of a clinical test of a new anti-depressant, ‘Smilezone-Hcl.’ She laughed when I responded:
“There’s probably nothing you-uns got that can fix my negative attitude!”
Long story short, one week later, after three interviews in her Lancaster (PA) field-clinic, and I was signed up, received my instruction booklet and blister-paks of the putative wonder-drug.
Four days later, Franji calls me on my cell. She must’ve dug it out of the personal files. I had just that minute learned that my property taxes had been raised to un-thinkable new heights; She asked me how I was feeling.
“Life sucks and then you die.” I told her. “Thinking of digging a hole in the back-yard; six feet deep, right?” I asked.
“Oh ,my, dear, sometimes it takes a few days for the medicine to work.” she cooed, in a voice which already dripped more than professional concern.“How about we talk about this over dinner this evening. We can meet at Mt. Ne-bo at seven,; I’ll be coming back from Baltimore anyway.”
What does she know?
I don’t know, the trial had 380 participants, I’d been told. Half received the real thing, the other half, sugar pills disguised as Smilezone. Somehow I couldn’t see Franji attending to each and every depressed candidate with dinner-date invitations, and I took it as a real compliment and therefore I could feel the hint of a rare departure from my usual morose mood.
“Yeah, ‘Life sucks, but you do go out to eat once in a while.” I allowed. Like Droopy the dog said, famously, “I’m happy!?”
At her suggestion, we went to a nice little steak-house, Sambo’s.
“Didn’t know they could still name a place that.” I said as we pulled into the lot. “Thought they have to call it ‘A diminutive dark-complected boy named Sam.’”
“Oy, it’s just a word.” she reassured me, “like Dumbo over there.”
Sure enough, the place had rented an enormous inflated elephant, tied down by three guy ropes, to, I guess, attract customers. We sat down inside; I did my best to talk about Ms Franji, not about myself. Kinda like what @boulderchristina described in an awesome post on Xanga a few weeks back. But Franji, bless her over-sized heart, gave me the impression that I needn’t have exerted myself over-much. She quickly turned the conversation to something we had in common, a fascination with words. Yes, like ‘Dum-bo’.
“Stuck in the MUD, is he?” She quiped. Took me half a perfect baked potato with sour cream to ‘get’ that she was reversing the letters in ‘DUM-BO, except for the -BO of course.
“We can always just pull him out, with my TUR-BO truck,” I came up with, “unless it gets stuck in a RUT.”
“Well, you can always just buy a new vehicle, on the web; ‘Carb-bo.com’” she said, slicing her steak.
“I tried that,” I came back. “but every time you click for prices it re-directs you to ‘Carbo-hydrates, and all the rates are greyed-out.” she liked that one. And I liked her more every minute.
We kissed, as platonic a peck on the cheek as I could manage, and when she left me off back at Mt Ne-bo I actually took two of the feel-good pills. Hey, I can always say the dog ate one. Didn’t get a particular rush from a double dose though. In fact, the depression returned less than an hour after I got home. ‘Wonder-drug’? You wonder where’s the ‘wonderful about it?
“Life sucks, you go out to eat, then it’s over, and they bury you on a full stomach.” I found myself thinking. Plus, the -BO words were starting to feel…um… uncanny. She’d absolutely insisted I order the ‘Jum-bo Fries’ as a final takeout. What’s up with that?
Lot’s of -BO words. I may be despondent, but like Poe, I still hear the the ‘Nevermore’ when it poops on my head. But overall, I was rapidly learning to relish, ‘Franji Pani’s quirky attention.
Monday, first light she sent me an email about some inter-stellar discovery from the gigantic dish antenna at Areci-bo. “We need to talk abot this!” She added, under the link.
“Yes, I do believe we should, Franny” I SMS-ed back.
“Sambo’s at seven?” she asked, and it was set up.
It all becomes clear
I distinctly saw her wink at the manager as we walked in. Twenty seconds later the Muzak abruptly segued into ‘Mr Bo-Jangles’. On repeat. I mean, three re-plays at least. I got the message:
“Franny,” I took her hand in mine. She knew it was coming. “Did you know that Pea-bo Bryson can play the O-boe with his el-bow? How does that make you feel?” I asked her. Without waiting for her reaction, I ‘moved‘ us outside to the gaze-bo’ dining area.
“Glad for that.” she thanked me. “I mean, how many times can you listen to Mr. B-freaking Jangles?”
“Franji-le, there’s something you want to tell me, no?” I got right to the point.
“Excellent steak,” she avoided the question, “We should come here once a week, for starts.”
“Nu, Franji, what’s with all the -Bo words?” I got to the point.
“Johnny, are you happier since we started this?” she asked, gazing into my eyes there in the gazebo. For some reason I ’bout to cried.
“Of course, sweetheart. It’s the Smilezone, is it?”
“Hmm… can’t say.” she gazed toward the horizon.
“You mean, you’re not allowed to say, is that it?” I pressed her.
“Exactly. I mean, even if I had, hypothetically, hacked the files and discovered that you are in the cohort group receiving that, you know, -BO word I’ve been kinda hinting at…”
“Kinda hinting at?!?” I laughed. Yes, it was all clear now. Bound by her professional obligation not to prejudice the trials, Franji none-the less, as a human, ok, a woman, needed to deniably signal to me that my new happiness was the singular result of her pure, basic, concerned love. Chemicals be damned. ‘What’s Love got to do with tertiary-amine sidechains and dopamine re-uptake.?” as the song goes.
She paid the tab, on her Upjohn account, and this time the kiss was,let’s call it, ‘exploratory’.
The only thing I have to add here is that it does take a while to ‘un-blister’ all those left-over sugar pills, to use in my coffee. Hey, I may be in love, but I’m still broke.