Cameras flash, blinding me as I stand behind the podium. Video cameras are pointed in my direction, and a sea of journalists eager to ask me what they consider to be the tough and scandalous questions stand before me.
I don’t want to hold this interview. I don’t like being the center of attention. But right now, this is what my job calls for.
After all, I’m the one who may have saved the world.
It’s almost time for the questions to begin, and sweat drips down my brow and I hastily wipe it away. I try thinking about all the techniques my coach gave me to ease my fear.
“Imagine them all in their underwear.”
“You already did something great, now you get to brag about it.”
“Pretend you’re talking to your team of researchers.”
I try the first one, and when you’re a scientist, you can tell what is hidden underneath the layers of clothes, especially when you’re as familiar with the human body as myself. However, instead of picturing the entire crowd in their underwear, my attention focuses on a gorgeous man in his mid to late twenties in the third row. In an instant his clothes are gone, replaced with a chiseled set of abs that are lightly tanned. I’m glad he’s sitting down and that’s all I can see.
Clearly it’s been a while. Sue me.
Well, that clearly didn’t work. Maybe I’ll try the prideful approach when the questions start. Why aren’t they starting? I look at my watch. Five minutes after the interview was supposed to begin.
Oh, that’s right. I’m supposed to give a spiel on what I did. Ok, I can do that. I can talk about my work any day of the week. I can explain how I found a way to reverse the aging process. It’s simple, really. A few big words here, an experiment or a thousand there. Done.
Maybe that wasn’t the easiest speech to follow, but I don’t care about that. I not my head, indicating I’m ready to take questions. Yeah, I’m so ready to run and hide in my lab and never come out.
A woman to the left of me doesn’t wait to be called on and blurts out her question.
“You claim to have found the gene in our DNA to reverse aging. What do you really mean by that? Not all of us have numerous medical degrees to call on for an understanding.”
OK, that one’s not so bad. I try to explain it to her, saying that there is a genetic code in our DNA that I’ve reprogrammed. However, I’ve only performed this experiment on rats and monkeys, no human trials yet.
“And when will human trials begin, if ever?”
Alright, they’re just going to bombard me, then. Don’t they know I can’t answer about human trials? That’s such a touchy subject as it is. Nobody wants to test anything on humans that will be used for humans. Makes perfect sense, right?
I run a hand through my hair. Clearly the pride thing isn’t working either. All the journalists in their fancy business suits are just getting antsier by the minute. And I know I can’t talk to them like my research team. These people aren’t nearly smart enough to understand the complexity of what I discovered.
“What happened in the preliminary trials?”
Ooh, good question. Well? The mice stopped showing signs of aging. That simple. This isn’t a Benjamin Button thing, either. Nobody is getting any younger.
“How would you explain the state of the lab animals after the trials?”
These people really don’t get it, to they? Um, well, they stopped aging. Like a vampire. They’re frozen in the time when their bodies ceased to age. Apparently that word is like red to a bull and now they’re all fired up.
“So what you’re saying is that you have scientifically created a strain of vampirism? Do the test subjects actually need blood to sustain them?”
Are they really that dumb and don’t understand a figure of speech? But I can’t say that to them, oh no. The boss wants to keep his funding. I have to play by playground rules.
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, Maria, don’t say anything at all. You hear me?”
Those pep talks make me want to get up in the morning. Yeah, and I’m not a borderline alcoholic.
I wish this interview would hurry up and end. These bright lights are hurting my eyes, and all these questions are killing off my I.Q. slowly and surely. It’s like listening to these people has actually made me a less intelligent person.
Ah, yes! It’s time for the last question! I’m home free!
The man who I was ogling earlier stands up and clears his voice. I wonder what he’s going to ask. He’s been silent during the entire show, and I can’t help but be curious.
“So when should I pick you up for dinner? Does seven or eight work better for you?”
The whole crowd is in an uproar, and all I can think is that I’m one lucky woman.