What I Learned in Biology
Glucose is the driver of life. It's the sweet stuff our bodies consume on a molecular level. Sugar molecules serve as part of the backbone for DNA. On a molecular level glucose is made of a ring of six bonded carbons.
Figure 1 -- Glucose ring of six bonded carbons
Somehow, I got in with the cool kids. There are six of us who sit around a big table and quiz each other before class, and BS between the quizzing. The youngest is twenty, the oldest is in her early forties. There's me, there's my lab partner Lily Page, there's Pre-Physician's Assistant Angela, there's Abby the Artist, there's Nan the Nurse and there's Not My Major. Tonight we BS'ed a lot. Loudly. With much laughter.
Abby: I just want to tell that big idiot to shut up!
Me: I'm going to tell him you said that.
Abby: Somehow, I don't see you doing that.
Me: Yeah? Watch me!
Angela: I bet you floor people outside of class. God you're funny.
Lily Page: Oh, yeah, uh-huh.
This went on for an hour. I don't remember everything that was said, but I remember laughing at every god-damned thing these women said.
DNA molecules are held together by weak hydrogen bonds.
Figure 2 -- Weak hydrogen bonds
And then there was a moment. This is Abby's last class, ever. Not My Major and Lily Page are not science majors, so this is it for them. I'm taking A&P, Angela's taking Bio 2, Nan's still picking out her next classes and they might not be at this college. We all felt that camaraderie slipping away, just as it was really getting fun.
However, the sheer number of hydrogen bonds makes DNA remarkably strong.
Figure 3 -- DNA coiled tightly before undergoing cell division
I'd forgotten about this part of school. This camaraderie. We were all different – at different stages of our lives, with different backgrounds, different goals, different values. But we were at this time and place bonded by the challenge of this class.
Other classmates came around, mostly with questions about the homework. 'What'd you get for number twelve?' We obliged. Then someone was standing behind me.
'You typed up your homework answers, huh?'
It was Mark. Now a while back, Abby told me that she overheard Mark say to our instructor, “Tell me. I've got the highest grade in the class, don't I?”
And she said, “No. Actually, you don't. There are two people ahead of you.”
He wanted to know who they were. Of course she didn't tell him.
But Abby had a pretty good idea of who they were.
Mark also makes a Very Big Show out of finishing his tests quickly. And everybody knew that He Finished His Term Paper REALLY EARLY.
Anyway, I once tried talking to Mark and he looked at me like I was rat sperm smear.* Now he was smiling down at me.
“Um...yeah, I typed it up. To spare Denice from reading my handwriting.”
“Yeah. I typed mine up too. So.” He looked from me to Angela. “I asked Denice if I had the highest grade in the class and she told me there were two people ahead of me.”
Yup, just like that, WHUMP, his dick out on the table.
Figuratively, of course.
Angela and I looked at each other. And smiled.
Angela said, “Really? Hmmm.”
“Wow,” I said.
In the following silence, Mark rolled back and forth from his heels to the balls of his feet and back again.
“So what's your grade?” he asked Angela.
“What's yours?” I asked Mark.
“Oh, um, I don't know, like...101%, something like that.”
“Ah,” I nodded. I looked back at Angela. “You know, I think the point is that you challenge yourself, right?”
“Oh, yes! I mean, what does it really matter, how anybody else does?”
“Like running your own race...”
“Yes. Beating your own score...”
And so we slapped his dick until it wasn't on the table anymore.
Figuratively, of course.
When the cell is ready to divide, DNA helicase breaks the hydrogen bonds between base pairs.
Figure 4 -- In a quick event, helicase severs hydrogen bonds.
Lily Page finished her test. She whispered, 'bye, guys' and left. I waved without looking up. Since shes my lab partner, I had her email address.
The test was tough.
Just the way I like them. I need to get my ass kicked now and then.
I felt like this:
Figure 4 -- Mental Construct of Nancy Dancehall
This test was more like a battle, and less like harvesting wheat, which is how I felt about the lab practical.
I don't know if I beat my last score. I don't care if I beat anyone else's.
In DNA, nitrogenous bases pair up according to structure. Thymine will always pair up with adenine, cytosine with guanine.
Figure 5 -- base pairs align.
Across the room, Angela finished her test. I still had three questions to go. I finished them and hurried out after her. I just caught her in the parking lot.
“Hey! What'd you think of the test?” I shouted.
“Not bad!” she answered.
We talked about the structure of DNA. I asked about her twins, and she asked about mine. Then I asked if she ever wanted to get together sometime. And she said, “Yeah!” and consulted her schedule. We exchanged emails.
This is big. I make a new friend (in person) about once every two or three years.
And now I'm feeling Just. Like. This.**
*It's become like Tourettes for me.
**Bonus points if you can name the literary reference in the song.