Suitably accoutered he opened his note book to the page that had his data and removed the card that had the Lance Method on it. He read the card carefully and then looked at his numbers. He didn’t know the atmospheric pressure in Nome. He decided it must be the same as Mineralwater, which he forgot he also didn’t know. There wasn’t an egg in the apartment and even if there were one, he couldn’t measure the freezing point of the water he would have boiled it in because he had neglected to buy a micro-osmometer from Melvin’s. So he plugged another assumption into his Rube Goldberg scheme. He called the weather bureau and got the temperatures in both Dallas and Mineralwater forgetting that it was a different date from those during which he had made his measurements.
At last he was ready to make his calculations. He sharpened four pencils and stared at the directions on the card Harvey had given him. He sharpened another pencil and looked at the card again. He kept sharpening and looking until he ran out of unsharpened pencils. Then he got up and got a bowl of cornflakes. He stared some more while eating the cereal which he had covered with four tablespoons of sugar. This is as bad as Gross Anatomy, he thought while turning as red as Gabby Adorno had when he told him he had a girl’s name.
Dr Walker had returned from Tibet and Milton Lance had decided to take a break from his piano lesson after Bubbles had disappointed him. She had preemptively announced that the deal with Milt was off because she wouldn’t screw an uncircumcised man. Milt was the only uncircumcised member of the Department of Medicine. The upshot of all these simultaneous sensations was that a nephrology research conference had been called for Friday afternoon at 4.
“Friday afternoon,” Frank Another – like Grollman a new first year fellow – complained to Gabby and Grollman when the conference was announced. “Who has a research conference late on Friday afternoon?”
“Gonna interfere with your golf game?” asked Gabby. Another didn’t reply. “And by the way, present your micro-osmolality data to Milt and Dr Walker,” he said to Grollman with a faint smirk that made him look taller.
Grollman gathered his crisply sharpened colored pencils and went into his bedroom trying to figure a way not to look like a moron at his first research conference. The rest of the stuff on the table remained there for a month.
The research conference began precisely late. Dr Walker was on hold trying to talk to the Deputy Surgeon General of the Army who was desperately trying to avoid him. Walker had recently returned from a tour of all the army’s medical facilities in Europe – just before he had gone to Tibet, that is. The Deputy Surgeon General had sent him there because the phone lines between the European hospitals and the Pentagon were down and the general reasoned that he would be safe from Walker’s constant telephonic harangues about the medical corp’s overall shitty organization in general and its lousy retention rate of doctors in particular. He was right. Walker had been unable to get him on the phone for the whole four weeks he was in Germany. Naturally he couldn’t reach him from Tibet. Back in Mineralwater he wasted no time in calling the beleaguered major general several times a day. Milt had forgotten about the conference and was playing golf. Frank Another has been sent to fetch him. Gabby Adorno was also not yet there. He had gone to the airport to greet a new renal fellow who due in from Madrid.