My dream vacation

by Lorien E. Menhennett

Tropical cocktail with a 3-D protein structure as a garnish. My kind of beverage.

It was like a two-person game of telephone. You know, the childhood game where one person whispers something in a person’s ear (“I ate pizza for dinner”) and the next person hears something totally different (“I hate Lisa Windsor”) and it gets passed along until the beginning phrase is no longer recognizable. Silliness usually ensues. This time was no different.

My mom and I were talking (and we were actually on the phone). I told her I had been searching for some protein research topic on PubMed (the National Institutes of Health online article database). After I had been talking for a few moments about the articles I found, she burst into laughter.

“I was really confused there for a second,” she said. “I thought you said ‘Club Med,’ not ‘PubMed.’ ”

I started laughing too. But then I thought about it. Maybe she had something there. And somehow my dream vacation took form over the phone — in the union between Club Med and PubMed.

Picture this: a giant cruise ship sailing in the Caribbean. Swimming pools, tennis courts, a fancy restaurant and bar. Stops at various islands for exploring, shopping, hiking, beachcombing, fishing, etc. But this is no ordinary cruise ship, nor an ordinary cruise crowd. On board is a fully equipped, world-class research lab and a mini convention center. Those aboard the cruise are scientists interested in protein research, and they have come together to collaborate on research and present their latest findings at a floating scientific conference.

Since my mom helped me come up with the idea, I wholeheartedly agreed that she could be my “plus-one” at the conference. She said that sounded great, as long as she could bring a drink into the conference room. Fine by me, as long as the drinks have edible 3-dimensional protein conformations as garnishes. And as long as the drinks are named after proteins.

Tom cholinesterase, anyone?