Flipside: Nobel causes

As though ambition were a fatal disease. Something to be avoided at all cost. Like AIDS.

By RUTHIE BLUM LEIBOWITZ
December 15, 2005 13:20
Flipside: Nobel causes

Flip298.jpg. (photo credit: )

 
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As though ambition were a fatal disease. Something to be avoided at all cost. Like AIDS. "Don't get your hopes up," Yaron spits a slightly bloody mouthful of toothpaste into the sink already flecked with whiskers. As though the sky would fall at the very prospect of his "aiming too high." "Don't forget to wipe the basin," Sharon calls out cheerily. "Other people have to use it." Other people? Yaron grunts a laugh. His wife is the only other human who has ever set foot in this apartment, let alone in this bathroom. What she means, he knows, is that she can't stand the sight of the sink after he's been anywhere near it. The delicacy of her wording - like her overall gentleness - was one of the things that had attracted Yaron to Sharon in the first place. Yaron and Sharon. The rhyming names had been the source of so many bad jokes since the couple started seeing each other that Yaron seriously considered changing his own. Had he done that, however, he would have robbed his mother and mother-in-law of the opportunity to drive every printer in Jerusalem crazy. The search for "the perfect design" for the invitations - one that would emphasize the rhyme - had provided the two women with endless, delicious fodder for deliberation. While the whole fuss surrounding the wedding had caused Yaron dangerous levels of irritation, Sharon hadn't seemed perturbed in the least. This in itself had made him wonder whether it wouldn't be a big mistake to marry her. A woman who, it was becoming apparent, had a lot more in common with the people who thought it was "sweet" for a husband and wife to have names that rhymed than she had with him. A loner (one might even say misanthrope) who wanted little to do with people altogether - aside from curing them of this mystifying disease that prevents the body from healing itself. A man whose only genuine interest lay in science. Or, rather, in breaking scientific ground. And in winning the Nobel Prize. "What if Aumann hadn't gotten his hopes up?" Yaron argued when Sharon delicately suggested that he get an actual job. One that, together with her salary, would enable them to move into what she called a "normal" apartment. "What's wrong with this one?" he'd asked, perplexed. "It's suited me fine for the better part of a decade." When Sharon had gently pointed out that "he" was no longer "me," but "we," and that the hovel they were now sharing was neither suitable nor large enough, Yaron had been almost certain he should have remained single. The best thing about residing in a windowless bomb shelter for a pittance had been getting away from his mother. Yet here he was, actively inviting her clone to move in with him. Figuring that one out, he thought wryly, would surely be a Nobel-worthy pursuit. Not to mention a great deal more useful to mankind than Game Theory. "WHAT IF Ciechanover and Hershko hadn't gotten their hopes up?" Yaron sighs, scrubbing the soap scum around the inside of the sink with a scouring pad - one of many items Sharon purchased after spending the night with him for the first time. "Where would the world be if people like that didn't 'aim too high'?" Echoes of his mother suggesting he put aside his inventions for a while to attend university reverberating, Yaron grabs the bottle of Advil from the shelf where he keeps his razor. "I've already wasted three years in the army," he remembers shouting. "I can't squander any more precious time doing research for a bunch of professors." "With all due respect to your grand plans," her imaginary voice permeates the bathroom with genuine sarcasm, "you're going to need to come down from Mount Olympus and make a living like the rest of us mortals." Yaron downs two pills with a cupped palmful of water from the faucet he has just cleaned for his wife's benefit, and exits. "Oh, you shaved," Sharon says lovingly, brushing the back of her hand over his cheek. "You look so handsome, they're sure to hire you in a second." Yaron fashions a smile by moving the edges of his lips upwards. As he learned to do with his mother when he realized she'd only understand what he was about after watching him receive the award for revamping an AIDS-infected immune system, he feigns surrender. Sensing his stiff response to her warm overtures, Sharon pulls Yaron toward her. "Ambition is a good thing," she says, determined to mold their marriage into a thing of intimacy. "But maybe you should aim a little lower and work your way up." Yaron nods, purposely focusing his mind elsewhere. If allowed to seep into his system, he thinks, any kind of undermining will weaken his resolve and kill his motivation. The last time he sensed such danger, he distanced himself from it by leaving home. Now he has no choice but to immunize himself from it while staying put. Immunize himself while staying put. Of course! "My God," he says, his headache suddenly gone. "Why didn't I think of this before?" Sharon throws her arms around his neck and gives him a loud kiss of the rhyming-name variety. "You weren't married to me before," she giggles. "And you're finally beginning to listen to reason." "That's it!" he shouts, giving her the kind of bear-hug she's been dreaming about since she met him. "You can't revamp a system in the absence of its attacker." "Oh, look at the time," Sharon gasps, pulling away. "Thanks to me, you're going to be late for your interview." "No, sweetheart," he says, the jubilation of discovery making him giddy. "Thanks to you, I'm going to be rich and famous." ruthie@jpost.com

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