I had coffee with Dr. Irving Slezak, the brilliant genetics researcher. He brought some genes and a chopping knife. Working with the skill of a master salad chef, he chopped one of the genes into dozens of tiny parts, threw half of them away and tossed the rest into a salad bowl.
He repeated the process with the second gene, then stirred the bowl vigorously, at the same time explaining. One gene, he said, belonged to a truck driver and the other to a state policeman. By blending the two, he hoped to produce a brand-new form of life--a truck driver who, immediately upon exceeding the fifty-five-mile-an-hour speed limit, would pull himself over and give himself a ticket.
This was but a small example of the new fuel-saving developments possible through research in recombinant DNA. He had bigger projects afoot in the lab. He became confidential.
"Would you believe a topless go-go dancer crossed with a seal?" he whispered.
"You're mad, Slezak, mad," I said.
"They won't think I'm mad when I produce a topless dancer who can perform without a single goose pimple in a room heated to a mere thirty-six degrees Fahrenheit," he said.
So far he had succeeded only in producing a seal that liked to take off its brassiere and twitch to loud records, he confessed. But, in the meantime, other miraculous gene stews were being cooked.
Even now he was combining the genes of a midget with the genes of an interstate highway to produce a smaller turnpike which would force people to drive smaller cars.
"Impossible," I said. "Turnpikes don't have genes."
"If that's right," he asked, "how come I've already got seventeen midgets with 'Do Not Cross Median Strip' signs growing in their navels?"
No wonder so many people were opposed to recombinant DNA projects. Slezak speared a coffee gene in his cup and held it up, then dropped it on the table and before it could wiggle to safety chopped it into tiny pieces.
"Now give me one of your genes," he said.