Biology lesson at the faculty Christmas party

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Greg was so pissed he lost his Christmas spirit.

The problem was that he is a subject matter expert in this field. He knew the answer to this question cold, but he did not want to get dragged into this discussion. He just wanted to lay low until dessert was served just before the party broke up.

The dinner dishes had been cleared away from the big oval table a few minutes before. They were in the private room at the back of an upscale restaurant. The wait staff had left a coffee service on a side board and had given the room to the guests until they called for the dessert course.

Greg panicked when the conversation suddenly lurched in this direction. It had been ruthlessly steered in that direction due to relentless axe grinding and a touch of pot stirring.

Greg’s wife Quiara quickly ground her heel into the top of his foot. Fighting back a grimace, Greg injected as much meekness into his voice as he could and said, “Ah, please no. I catch enough crap for being the resident science nerd. The last thing anyone wants is for a biologist to rattle on regarding a topic which is about ethics more than biology.”

Everyone at the table were Doctors of Philosophy. Greg was the only Ph.D. with a hard-science background. He was a Biologist who specialized in reproduction. His most recent papers all had to do with reproduction in Homo sapiens.

The other twenty-three attendees were in the Language Department. All of them were experts in the literature, philology, and linguistics of various languages alive and dead. This meal was the Christmas party for the language department, masquerading as a “solstice celebration.”

Greg thought that it had been a clever manipulation to imply that calling on him to lecture in this scenario would bore people and make him feel awkward. He had high hopes as he flicked his eyes to his wife, who flashed her eyes in approval at his cleverness.

Sadly, his gambit didn’t work. Radu, in his role as resident axe-grinder, was undeterred. “Oh. Come on Greg. I think everyone here is genuinely interested in hearing the answer,” said Radu. “If you want to know the answer to this, raise your hands.”

About three fourths of the table raised their hands immediately. After seeing how the vote was hopeless, the remaining quarter slowly raised their hands so they didn’t look suspiciously out-of-line with conventional wisdom. Greg marveled at the way that perceived social pressure got people to compromise their values almost immediately and on a subconscious level.

Greg silently noted the three people who least wanted the discussion to go in this direction were Kailey, Elodie, and Quiara. Greg thought of them as the “three amigos”. Kailey was the wife of Radu, the instigator. Elodie was wife of the department head, Emile. Quiara was Greg’s wife and the reason why he was at the dinner at all. The fact that these three were against it wasn’t surprising.

In October, Elodie and Kailey travelled to a conference in Vancouver to present a paper together. The day they returned, Elodie and Kailey showed up to Greg’s house unexpectedly. Quiana pushed him out to his backyard shed and the women spent almost the entire day holed up in the master bedroom.

It was impossible to miss the fact that Elodie spent that entire day crying hysterically in an advanced state of emotional breakdown while Kailey and Quiara desperately tried to put her back together.

Greg was completely excluded from that discussion, but he did overhear Quiara advise Elodie to “come clean” and later he heard Kailey suggest, “what happens in Vancouver stays in Vancouver.” It wasn’t difficult to infer what was going on.

At the time, Greg wrestled with whether he should tell Elodie’s husband, Emile. If it had been a friend, Greg would have spilled the beans immediately. The problem in this case was that Greg and Emile hated each other.

Emile had never been friendly to Greg, and had always treated him as if he were a servant. The dislike had turned into active enmity during the Faculty Ball the previous spring. Quiana sent Greg to the bar to get fresh drinks. When he retuned to the table, Quiara wasn’t there. He found her out on the dance floor with Emile. Emile’s hands were all over Quiara– breasts, back, and ass. Quiara looked embarassed, but did not protest. Greg waited until the couple circulated on the dance floor next to the Chancellor. That’s when then stepped in and deliberately made a scene with the Chancellor as his audience. This forced Emile to publicly apologize to him and withdraw from the dance floor in shame.

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