did diptych by Max Greenstreet (click on image to make larger)
The laboratory of Luigi Idano and Tamara Whozat. Various experiments underway. Luigi, male, hirsute, portly, prone to sweating. Tamara, female, burgundy hair, pleasingly curvaceous, only sweats in saunas, left eyebrow tastefully pierced with shard of amethyst.
Luigi: I know it’s a small sample size, but…
Luigi: Granted. But the implications are staggering.
Luigi: Granted. Promising?
Tamara: Three nights, Luigi. Three times. You call this science?
Luigi: I never called it science. I called it a possible breakthrough of epic life-changing potentiality and I want to put out an all-points bulletin post haste trumpeting our discovery to the entire world.
Tamara: All points bulletin? What era do you think we’re living in?
Luigi: Well…then a tweet thing or a face thing.
Tamara: How can you be so out of synch with the way people communicate now?
Luigi: Out of synch? I happen to like all-point bulletins; they point in every direction. I like landline phone connections. I like letters arriving in my post office box. Envelopes with stamps on them. Pieces of paper with writing on them inside the envelopes.
Tamara: Fine. But why not wait until you try your little experiment a few more times? Why tell the world something that might not be true?
Luigi: Because I feel certain it is true. And besides, what could it hurt? We’re talking about bananas here. Who could object to bananas?
Tamara: I know several people who do not like bananas unless cooked in banana bread.
Luigi: How sad.
Tamara: Yes, but the point is…bananas may be too specific.
Luigi: Then food? What if I said food?
Tamara: Not specific enough. Food might include chocolate, and that would be antithetical to your hypothesis, assuming your hypothesis is the one I assume you have.
Luigi: But I must do something. This discovery could make a huge difference in the lives of millions of people, and in the lives of those who sleep with those people. Oh please let me put out an all-points bulletin and a tweet thing and a face thing. Please?
Tamara: I’m sorry, Luigi. I can’t be a party to this.
Luigi: Who said anything about a party?
Tamara: I thought you’d appreciate the archaic-ness of that expression.
Luigi: I do, actually. Okay, I’ll go it alone.
Tamara: You understand it’s not that I don’t want your discovery to be true. I do. But I don’t want another fiasco befalling our enterprise like that whole gluten-free-diets-raise-your-IQ thing we suffered through last year.
Luigi: Well, going gluten-free certainly raised my IQ.
Tamara: There you go again. Extrapolating from insufficient data.
Luigi: Does this mean I can’t use our official laboratory stationery for the all-points bulletin?
Tamara: That’s what it means. Your findings do not come from the Laboratory of Luigi Idano and Tamara Whozat. This is your own wholly unfounded personal unscientific conjecture based on three nights and three bananas. For all we know the ripeness of the bananas may be a major factor, as might your desire for the bananas to be effective. The positive result you attained could be nothing more than a placebo effect, and you know how rigorously we study placebo effects in all our experiments.
Luigi: What if I characterized my results as anecdotal?
Tamara: Yes, do that. But not on lab stationery.
Luigi goes to his desk and writes the following letter.
To Whom It May Concern
For many years now I have had trouble sleeping at night. That is, I rarely have trouble falling asleep, but after a couple hours of slumber I will wake and not be able to go back to sleep. I have tried various herbal sleep aids, sleeping pills prescribed by doctors, hypnosis, psychotherapy, and myriad other cures for what ails me with no good results.
When I recently mentioned my difficulty to my acupressurist, she responded by asking, “Did you know it actually takes energy to sleep?”
I said I did not actually know this, but having slept with people who snore such that they sound as if they are wielding a chainsaw for eight hours without stopping, I can see how sleeping requires energy.
My acupressurist then said she had another client who also used to wake every night and was not able to go back to sleep; and this client, upon learning that sleeping requires energy, decided to keep a banana beside her bed so when she woke in the night and could not go back to sleep, she would eat the banana to give her energy, but not the kind of energy that kept her awake, rather an energy that helped her sleep. And verily it came to pass that eating a banana in the middle of the night worked wonders for her—the wonders of adequate sleep.
So these last three nights I had a banana at the ready beside my bed, and when I woke in the middle of the night and could not go back to sleep, I ate the banana and fell back asleep. The first night, I had a dream about putting the wrong address on a package. The second night, I dreamt my funky childhood home turned into a palace. The third night I dreamt I was lost in a fog-enshrouded city. I was dressed as a clown with a tiny top hat and enormous shoes.
Who knows what my dreams mean, but I sure as shootin’ know what falling asleep means; it means I will have a banana by my bedside again tonight and tomorrow night and the night after.
Luigi shows the letter to Tamara.
Tamara: Good for you, Luigi. Send your message forth. Tell the world.
Luigi: I will. And would you post my message on your tweeting face thing?
Luigi: Fine. But take a moment to consider a person, possibly a good friend of yours, someone you really like, having trouble sleeping and reading my anecdotal evidence on your face tweet thing and gaining a new lease on life. Think about that, Tamara.
Tamara: No. Now can we get back to work on our will-flax-seeds-in-your-cookie-batter-make you-happier experiment? Our control placebo group of ravenous stevedores will be here in twenty minutes.
Luigi: Roger that. As soon as I send off my banana news to the far corners of the earth I will pop the non-flax-seeded cookies in the oven.
Tamara: Good. And I’ll make the coffee.