I think i’ve said repeatedly that Try a Little Tenderness is my favorite book. It’s the one book that combines most of my passions, sexy nerd scientist hero and viruses. Lots and lots of virus. In a different world, I would’ve been a scientist, or maybe a history-scientist. I absolutely love history and am fascinated with the impact disease has had on it. Many of the great sociological changes of the 20th century can be directly attributed to disease. Some even speculate that Woodrow Wilson had a mental collapse brought on by the effect of influenza which led to his inability to negotiate at the end of World War I. And, of course, we can all speculate that European expansion and colonialization of the New World wouldn’t have occurred had not disease wiped out 90% of the native population. Right now we are battling ebola and I’m watching closely with some trepidation, because ebola is not particularly “catchy,” yet we’re struggling to contain it. What with climate change we are going to encounter more deadly emerging viruses and our response has got to be more on point. With all that said, when I wrote Try A Little Tenderness six years ago I was hopeful that mankind will overcome as we alway have. I haven’t lost that optimism, but I am concerned. Here is an excerpt from my all time favorite book”
Lola grinned as she heard Koss’s bellow from down the hall. In fact she had no doubt their neighbors on the first floor had heard him as well. She shook her head. He’d been yelling off and on all morning. Why didn’t the man simply get a graduate assistant to help him with his notes? She’d never met anyone who hated to write as much as he did. Lola put down her textbooks to go find out what had set her cantankerous lover off this time.
“What’s going on?” she asked from the doorway of the study. Koss sat as his desk, staring absently into space. “Need some help?”
Koss looked up. “No, no. I’m just trying to get my notes organized.”
Lola walked over to look over his shoulder at the motley assortment of notes that littered his desk. For such a neat freak, he certainly seemed to take his lab notes on whatever scrap of paper he happened to find. Was that a gum wrapper? Damn! She shook her head as she picked up the sticky notes and at least one dry cleaning ticket. Undoubtedly for his one sport coat which he hadn’t been able to locate for the last faculty tea. And his handwriting. It didn’t look like anything produced by a human hand.
“I hope you have some kind of magic decoder ring for this. What the hell is that, by the way? Sanskrit?” At least now she understood why he hadn’t gotten anyone to help him. No point in driving a poor, unsuspecting graduate student over the edge. The curriculum was bad enough.
Koss picked up a stack of papers and began arranging them into a neater pile. “Are you here just to ride my ass, or did you want something in particular?” he snapped.
“Oh, I’m definitely here to ride your ass, but I think I can help. I’m a pretty good typist, and with a little effort I think I can make out those hieroglyphics you call handwriting.”
“Trust me, by the time you finish grad school, your handwriting will look like crap, too. Do you really think you can help? You’ve got your own classes ”
Lola rolled her eyes. “I’m taking one history class and an English class I should’ve taken years ago. I don’t think I’m in any danger of flunking out anytime soon. It’ll be cool. Your work is so interesting. I wish I’d been there when you were off in the field making these discoveries. It sure beats the hell out of reading some play about a guy who never shows up. Sounds too much like Ginger’s love life.”
Koss seemed to ponder the idea for a moment. “I could certainly use the help. Of course I’ll give you collaboration credit…”
“For what? Doing clerical work? Please! Besides, the last thing we want to do is draw attention to us. You could get into all sorts of trouble.” Lola shook her head vigorously.
“I already told you. I don’t give a damn about that. You’re not my student. And you’re unlikely to be my student for at least another year.”
“Actually, Koss, I could finish up in December. That’s why I’m getting these core classes out of the way. I’ve already applied for the grad program.” She shrugged. “I probably won’t get in, but I’ve applied.”
“You’re kidding? Why didn’t you tell me before?”
Lola bit her lip, uncertain herself why she hadn’t shared the news. “I don’t know. I guess I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it. I didn’t want to let you down. ”
“Lola, you’re not going to mess this up.” He pulled her into his arms. “You’re too smart for that.”
The gentle kisses eased all her fears. Too bad he couldn’t be there to kiss her twenty-four hours a day. She reached over to take his notes. Studying his penmanship ruefully, she shook her head in dismay. Apparently even the most brilliant people had to have some flaws.