The Rosie Project Page 42

\Got it in one,\ said Gene, incorrectly, as the problem was that I hadn\ got it right the first time. \That\ll explain the cake.\

I must have looked blank. For obvious reasons.

\She\s been eating chocolate cake. At her desk. For breakfast.\

This seemed to me to be an unhealthy choice, consistent with smoking, but not an indicator of distress. But Gene assured me that it was to make herself feel better.

Having supplied Gene with the necessary background information, I presented my problem.

\You\ e saying she\s not The One,\ said Gene. \Not a life partner.\

\Totally unsuitable. But she\s extremely attractive. If I\m going to have uncommitted se* with anyone, she\s the perfect candidate. She has no emotional attachment to me either.\

\So why the stress?\ said Gene. \You have had se* before?\

\Of course,\ I said. \My doctor is strongly in favour.\

\Frontiers of medical science,\ said Gene.

He was probably making a joke. I think the value of regular se* has been known for some time.

I explained further. \It\s just that adding a second person makes it more complicated.\

\Naturally,\ said Gene. \I should have thought of that. Why not get a book?\

The information was available on the internet, but a few minutes of examining the search results on \se*ual positions\ convinced me that the book option would provide a more relevant tutorial with less extraneous information.

I had no difficulty finding a suitable book and, back in my office, selected a random position. It was called the Reverse Cowboy Position (Variant 2). I tried it - simple. But, as I had pointed out to Gene, the problem was the involvement of the second person. I got the skeleton from the closet and arranged it on top of me, following the diagram in the book.

There is a rule at the university that no one opens a door without knocking first. Gene violates it in my case but we are good friends. I do not consider the Dean my friend. It was an embarrassing moment, especially as the Dean was accompanied by another person, but entirely her fault. It was fortunate that I had kept my clothes on.

\Don,\ she said, \if you can leave off repairing that skeleton for a moment, I\d like you to meet Dr Peter Enticott from the Medical Research Council. I mentioned your work in cirrhosis and he was keen to meet you. To consider a funding package.\ She emphasised the last two words as though I was so unconnected with university politics that I might forget that funding was the centre of her world. She was right to do so.

I recognised Peter instantly. He was the former father candidate who worked at Deakin University, and who had prompted the cup-stealing incident. He also recognised me.

\Don and I have met,\ he said. \His partner is considering applying for the MD programme. And we met recently at a social occasion.\ He winked at me. \I don\ think you\ e paying your academic staff enough.\

We had an excellent discussion about my work with alcoholic mice. Peter seemed highly interested and I had to reassure him repeatedly that I had designed the research so there was no need for external grants. The Dean was making hand signals and contorting her face, and I guessed that she wanted me to misrepresent my study as requiring funding, so that she could divert the money to some project that would not be funded on its merits. I chose to feign a lack of comprehension, but this had the effect of increasing the intensity of the Dean\s signalling. It was only afterwards that I realised that I should not have left the se*ual positions book open on the floor.

I decided that ten positions would be sufficient initially. More could be learned if the initial encounter was successful. It did not take long - less time than learning the cha-cha. In terms of reward for effort, it seemed strongly preferable to dancing and I was greatly looking forward to it.

I went to visit Rosie in her workplace. The PhD students\ area was a windowless space with desks along the walls. I counted eight students, including Rosie and Stefan, whose desk was beside Rosie\s.

Stefan gave me an odd smile. I was still suspicious of him.

\You\ e all over Facebook, Don.\ He turned to Rosie. \You\ll have to update your relationship status.\

On his screen was a spectacular photo of Rosie and me dancing, similar to the one that the photographer had given me and which now sat by my computer at home. I was spinning Rosie, and her facial expression indicated extreme happiness. I had not technically been \ agged\ as I was not registered on Facebook (social networking not being an interest of mine) but our names had been added to the photo: A/Prof Don Tillman of Genetics and Rosie Jarman, PhD Candidate, Psychology.

\Don\ talk to me about it,\ said Rosie.

\You don\ like the photo?\ This seemed a bad sign.

\It\s Phil. I don\ want him seeing this.\

Stefan said, \You think your father spends his life looking at Facebook?\

\Wait till he calls,\ said Rosie. \ ’’How much does he earn?’’ ’’Are you screwing him?’’ ’’What can he bench press?’’ \

\Hardly unusual questions for a father to ask about a man who\s dating his daughter,\ said Stefan.

\I\m not dating Don. We shared a taxi. That\s all. Right, Don?\


Rosie turned back to Stefan. \So you can stick your little theory where it fits. Permanently.\

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