The Secret Life of Kitty Lyons

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The Secret Life of Kitty Lyons by Maggie Cutler  


I Dream of Genomes

I want to start 2001 with something new and exciting, but everything feels so
d?ja vu. The Cold War cabinet is back from the dead, along with the kind of wan
floral prints and bottom-of-the-knee skirts Protestants liked before they
started reading Wired. And my marriage is turning into one of those 50’s
affairs in which everybody loves everybody enough to not want to hurt them and
nobody’s met anybody better but, like the missile defense shield, it’s
doomed not to work. What is working is Max, tromped off through the snow
to his editing room, leaving me alone with a cupful of flat Veuve Cliquot and an
itch for something fresh, young, hopeful.


I want someone unsullied, someone open to the world. I want somebody I can know
inside out, who is 99 percent like me, but just different enough to keep it
interesting. The only person I can think of who fits the bill is the man they
call “the Human Genome.” When The National Human Genome Research Institute and
Celera Genomics jointly announced him officially “Complete” last spring, he was
only 95 percent decoded, but by now, I figure, every molecule in his body is surely
ready for my intimate inspection.


I decide to call my adorable human genome “Craig.” Celera won’t divulge the name
of the particular man it chose to represent all humankind, but I’m betting it’s
Celera’s self-adoring president and chief scientific officer, J. Craig Venter.
Besides, “Craig” is the perfect name for a database, it’s so manly and
substantial, the same way “Ken” is the perfect manly and substantial name for a
crotchless plastic stud.


Craig. Craig, I want you inside me. Slow and easy, Craig. Craig, Craig, you
hunky monkey. Craig! My vulva plumps at the very sound.


Within minutes of our meeting, I’ve familiarized myself with every base pair of
Craig’s genetic code, from the genes that give me his prehensile thumb, now
probing my G-spot, to the junk DNA he shares with roundworms. Is that a little
lion in you, Craig, my love? A bee buzzing around my hive? Craig lets me watch
as the three-base codons of his DNA dictate to a swarm of other molecules how to
string amino acids into elaborate proteins that get folded and twisted (in
mysterious ways) to form his uniquely adorable cells, sperm included. He’s
saving it up just for me.


I’ve seen Max though all sorts of personal crises, not to mention sudden changes
of wardrobe, yet never learned half as much about him as I now know about Mr.
Craig. Many’s the time I’ve wondered why Max’s second toe is shorter than his
big toe whereas mine is longer. With Craig, the answer is at my fingertips. With
Craig, I know at a glance if he’s likely to come down with Alzheimer’s (no) or
give me color blind children (no again). Whereas my husband manages to keep me
focused on why he wants everything done his way instead of mine, and the Bush
regency likewise, Craig manages to keep me focused on the Eternal Sublime.
Craig’s beautiful, sinuous, densely-messaged double helix is like a love letter
direct from the Creator (or alternately from our Federal government, which
financed most of the decoding). A consort both real and virtual, his body is a
corpus of data bytes no less ethereal for being potentially patentable. The
frustrated investor in me want to eat him alive.


“Take me, Craig,” I invite him, “decode me silly. Gimme your Hox genes and your
death genes and all the little triggers, your ATP, your unpredictable introns,
t-RNA and everything. Open my cells. Just stop short of fertilization, please.”


He does. Pinning my crossed wrists above my head like a little “X” chromosome,
holding me helpless, he enters me utterly, transparently, sinks into my every
gaping pore, penetrates me like a new miracle cure, teasing at first, push-pull,
slap-tickle: Will this genome project thing work? Will it pay? Wonder drugs for
the rich or a bonanza for all? Invasions of medical privacy, or crippling
ailments foiled? I don’t care. I just want more data, more data, more.


And now, 2001 sensations. Two-thousand-and-one varieties of “yes.” I’m going so
crazy, that furrow in his brow above me and his outstanding cuticles grazing my
neck… Then all doubts go spinning in the centrifuge of his optimism;
full-body fuck beyond matter pure energy wild hope wild, wild hope.


Best of all, Craig’s genome contains an estimated 3.2 billion chemical letters.
So afterwards I can actually tell him, “Good gosh, Honey, It’s eNORmous!!” And
for the first time ever, I’ll really mean it. Which is enough of a brave new
start for any girl. That, and a mimosa.

last week next week

Maggie Cutler ©2001 All rights reserved