Five Things You Should Know Before You Marry a Biologist.

Please excuse the deafening silence. MM has hardly touched the ground over the last two weeks. Service will be back to normal soon. Or as normal as it gets around here.

If you have fallen for the charms of a biologist and you’re thinking about spending the rest of your life with him or her, here are a few things to consider before you say “yes”.

1. Biologists can get attached to the species they study. 

This is illustrated by the fact that like any other housewife, I said good morning to the Daltons this morning as I passed their tank. The Daltons are our snakes. Snakes are not cute or cuddly, and don’t get attached to you in any way (apart from wrapping themselves around your arm). Whilst other housewives brush their Westies and give the rabbit a carrot, I pick up snake poo and defrost mice. As I dangled dead rodents over the Daltons’ heads, it occurred to me that the plumber is coming this week to deal with the burst pipe beside their tank. I’d have to check if he was scared of snakes before I let him in. I often forget that the Daltons are there, and realise too late that my visitor is velcroed to the wall several feet behind me, eyes wide with terror as he or she points a quaking finger at the tank.

 "MM resolved to be clearer the next time PF asked her what she wanted him to bring back from his travels.  Rex certainly kept the children quieter than the stuffed toy she had ordered."

“MM resolved to be clearer the next time PF asked her what she wanted him to bring back from his business trip. However, it had to be said that Rex was certainly better at keeping the children quiet than the stuffed lion she had ordered.”

2. Biologists are a fountain of knowledge about nature. 

… and will willingly spout about it if you ask. It’s not just a job, it’s a 24/7 passion – and it’s infectious. A family visit to a zoo or a natural history museum requires rations for a week, camping gear and sleeping bags because PF explains the life cycle, knicker size and favourite TV programmes of every beast we clap eyes on. Any of you who have seen the wonder in a child’s eyes as they see a butterfly emerging from its cocoon should imagine a grown-up man doing the same. PF regularly runs in from the garden, muttering under his breath, and bombs back out with my camera. A cicada’s entry into the world last year seemed almost as fascinating to him as the birth of his own offspring.

3. Biologists never switch off. 

They read scientific articles in bed, correct their students’ exam papers at the kitchen table, and manage to find the only two hour-long TV documentary about traffic management in travelling dung beetle communities. Like little kids, they will find the remains of an insect during a family walk and insist on wrapping it carefully in a paper hanky and bringing it home to find out what it is. If it is unusual or rare, expect it to take pride of place on the kitchen window sill. Your biologist will only remember it once you have entrusted it to its final resting place in the kitchen bin. Childbirth is an event that is too cool for words – on top of the new daddy emotion, PF also got to see a placenta and umbilical cord, for realBiologist daddies don’t just cut the cord. They carefully inspect it when the nurse is looking the other way.

4. Biologists’ children inevitably get bitten by the bug.

I finally got my salad spinner back yesterday after my children hijacked it for use as a temporary hotel for a gang of huge, homeless tadpoles. Having a biologist parent can also cause problems at school: Little My went off her biology teacher recently when she told the class that all cells have a nucleus. Little My begged to differ, and the teacher laughed at her. No doubt eyeing her teacher as if she was an overripe heap of camel dung, Little My informed her that eukaryotic cells have a nucleus, but prokaryotic cells don’t. I suspect that my daughter’s homework will be handled like live ammunition from now on.

If the tadpoles survive, I'll have a good stock of potential Prince Charmings.

If our tadpoles survive, this is what they will turn into. I’ll have a good stock of potential Prince Charmings this year.

5. Biologist “business trips” are unlike all others.

Husbands in films go on business trips. They call from a tastefully decorated designer bedroom in a high-tech hotel somewhere in the vibrant centre of the business vortex to reassure their perfectly manicured spouses (usually prowling around their bedrooms wearing lipstick and cougar nighties) before going out to sign a corporate deal. They return home with perfume, silk underwear and Belgian chocolates.

For a biologist’s spouse, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. Forget Richard Gere, and imagine a hybrid of Richard Attenborough and Man Friday. The last time PF went away, he eventually called me from an island lost somewhere off the African coast. I was clad in my Bob the Builder dungarees and was attacking the sewer from hell with my latest weapon, caustic soda (my eternal thanks to my hero, Papounet, whose miracle remedy has saved me from getting covered in raw sewage and paying huge fees to the local plumber). PF babbled enthusiastically about his hut on stilts boasting all mod cons (running cold water, a noisy fan and a mosquito net), mud, mangroves, crabs, baobab trees, multi-coloured geckos, fruit bats the size of seagulls and sandwich-stealing lemurs. Then told me he had to run – he was invited out for a meal beside the lagoon. Ok, honey, shit happens (in our house, whilst he’s away). He’d come home eventually – with a fridge magnet, sea shells, soggy, cast-off crab exoskeletons to put on the window sill, and a toy lemur. Cos that’s the way we roll.

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79 thoughts on “Five Things You Should Know Before You Marry a Biologist.

  1. Emerging from a deep hibernation/paincation to say “hello.” Yours is the first blog I am visiting, and how wonderful it is to “see” you again! My, how I have missed your humour and quick wit and kind words during my hiatus from life!
    Hoping you are well and sending big hugs across the miles! xoxox

  2. How funny!!! After putting my post up, I came directly to your blog. I was writing the comment above when you must have been commenting on mine! I left the comment on your blog, and then clicked on the comment button that lit up on my post, and there was your comment to me! I haven’t read it yet — I had to jump back and tell you what happened — but I’m sure it is funny and sweet… Hope you are well, my friend… xoxo

  3. I love this post, I was laughing and spluttering through my cornflakes (Mrs Sensible has me on a strict diet. I now have to eat breakfast) Welcome back.

    • PN! It’s been so long since we last “spoke”(Cue emotional splutter into morning coffee). I just had cornflakes, too 🙂 Will be trying to catch up on blogging and reading, life’s been hectic of late but that’s what life’s all about, hey …

    • Hi, Elaine! It is very exotic – until your snakes bust out of their tank whilst you’re on holiday. Then the adventure starts. What I love the most is being married to a big kid whose face lights up every time he sees a creepy-crawly.

      • Cue the plotline for a film… escaped snakes rampaging (can snakes rampage? Maybe you need legs to rampage)through the neighbourhood. Yes, it must be great to love your work so much that you never lose your enthusiasm.

      • Mine didn’t rampage. They toddled around until they found a warm place close to water, a bit like Tahiti but less exotic (under the dishwasher or behind the tumble drier). Finding them was one of the most exciting family games we’ve ever played 🙂

  4. Bonjour funny lady! 🙂 well, maybe that’s why I married a rocket & satellite scientist… who doesn’t look like Richard Gere, but something between Paul Newman and Bo Redford… 🙂

  5. Welcome back, and great post! I dated a biologist at university. She was studying the breeding habits of weevils for her dissertation and was absolutely obsessed. It was never going to work out…

    • You made me crease up then, it’s my life all over. I could make you shiver with similar tales, like the day spent catching baby crabs in the pouring rain to feed his baby squids for his research project, then returning to find very full and satisfied crabs in the tank… and no squids. That was a bad evening, he was unconsolable.

  6. Haha hunt the snake-I like it 😉

    I too am grateful I’m not near anyone who loves bugs (particularly spiders!) but I reckon a pet lemur could be quite interesting…

    Wait a minute, don’t lemurs eat bugs?! Scratch that idea, I’ll stick with my chickens, that’s as exotic as we get round here, I’m afraid xx

  7. Welcome back! You’ve been missed!!
    I could totally relate to this post. Husband is a microbiologist and everything science fascinates him. I once got a phone call at work because he was testing kits developed by the company he worked for to detect pathogens … on our kitchen counter … like I really wanted to know.
    Every night he is reading some book or article on something he would insist on sharing with me – until he realized that stuff freaked me out. There are some things I would really rather not know.
    And yes – he too has infected our boys who also share his fascination with science.
    Thankfully – no crawly things – with the exception of the snail incident many years ago when I walked into the room of son #1 to discover one wall was covered in snails which son had smuggled into the house and had escaped their prison.
    Sigh – never a dull moment.

    • Thanks, Joanne. I’m very humbled by all these welcome back comments, it feels lovely. We’ll have to start a club 🙂 I think most children are fascinated by animals, but biologist parents get as excited about them as their offspring are. Pathogen detection kits, hey? I worked with a researcher who was specialized in the spreading of bacteria on surfaces in hospitals – isn’t it funny how some people have such unusual specialities, and are such critically important fish in a very small pond?

      • Thank goodness we aren’t all the same. Life is so much more interesting this way – although I have to admit that some days I would welcome a little less ‘interesting’ 🙂

        I love the idea of a club. That usually implies the next stage will be parties and wine 😉

      • Interesting is fine as long as it doesn’t mean dangerous or stressful. A party and wine sounds wonderful – we’ll do a “show and tell” of the most unusual things our husbands have brought home from work.

  8. Is he any good at identifying edible plants in the countryside? If he is, I’ll get my hat…

    The bizarre thing about shit happening it is that it will fall upon you when your partner is thousands of miles away.

    • At the moment PF is barking “Look, children – an orchid!” every time we are out in the countryside. Unfortunately you’re not allowed to eat them. If he does not anything about edible plants, he’s not letting on – he hasn’t grown out of the “yeeeew, vegetables” phase yet 🙂
      As for shit happening when we’re going it alone, I totally agree. Having said that, I am the official pooey problem solver in this house regardless of whether PF is here or not. He gets the rest of the DIY equation so I guess it’s a fair enough deal.

    • You’re welcome 😀 Geeks are good for family life too – no more staring at that horrible “error” screen or getting nasty viruses than make my pooter poorly. Maybe we should get them together so that they can train each other up in a new talent?

      • You know what they say about being married to a plumber? Well, it’s not quite that bad… I’d rather he wasn’t a biologist though, all the same.

  9. I do think the Daltons are an exotic addition to any household. I am not too uncomfortable with snakes, but I’d never be able to handle the rodents–alive or frozen! I think a biologist husband must add many intriguing and interesting layers to life, and obviously your children have benefited from the “homeschooling” that accompanies their formal education. I’d have really enjoyed the mini-lecture on cell development. Everyone needs to stay on their toes around your biologist! 🙂

    • No kidding. He asked the fishmonger what species his prawns were the other day, then gave us an exciting lesson about the hunting techniques of the mantis shrimps I’d bought before I was allowed to cook them. His parents were fascinated. I’d prefer to be in a room with rats than with mantis shrimps – they are terrifying predators.

  10. You have definitely hit the jackpot this time – the maternal person (the one who rarely comments on such fripperies as blogs) has (unbidden) expressed unreserved approval. I hope you are suitably impressed/amazed/gobsmacked or otherwise traumatized.

  11. As someone who had to share the back of a Landrover for 500 miles with the rotting corpse of a seal, I leant at an early age to stay clear of all those with a biological bent.

    • Ommigod. Yeeeurch. He hasn’t done that to me yet. I have, however, driven 800 km with five snakes and a container holding a mixture of snake poo and earth with snake eggs buried in it. I’ve also had a shark’s head boiling in a saucepan in my kitchen (he found it on the beach and wanted to inspect the teeth in more detail) and I fought against having a dead snake buried in my garden “so that I can get the skeleton for my office”.

    • Incredible, isn’t it? I think Little My will have to learn the gentle touch with time, but I must admit I laughed myself stupid. I think I’ll ask PF to go to the next PTA meeting, and he can deal with the biology round-up 🙂

  12. I like the sound of PF too!Must be very interesting in your house!! In complete contrast Amar hates snakes & mice with a vengeance…when we moved to this rural paradise, I realised very early on that one of us was going to have to deal with our little furry 4 legged friends and it wasn’t going to be him 😉 Luckily we don’t have many snakes here but that would definitely be me too..ah well, vive la différence!!

      • I would LOVE to see PF cure Amar in a couple of days! That would be one huge achievement! Coincidentally I was thinking about you and smiling to myself just a couple of hours ago as I was on my hands and knees emptying a blocked fosse!!! Wasn’t successful though and it may need a few long rods which I will no doubt hand over to Amar so best not say too much about me & boy duties 😉

  13. Ciao MM! My blogging is very sporadic at the moment… so many other (not so interesting) things taking my attention away! I can handle most bugs but anything snake or spider related would have me running a mile :/ I salute you! 🙂

    • Hi there TAC 🙂 Don’t worry, it’s the same for me. Not enough time to settle down to blogging “proper like”, as we say in Cornwall. Don’t tell me you’re scared of SPIDERS? You wouldn’t last a minute in my house!

      • No but prawns don’t run at speed across the floor at you just when you’ve got comfy and unexpectedly dangle from the ceiling ending up in your hair when you least expect it! Plus, prawns are tasty! 😀

  14. Tadpole salad, eh? Did you know that Pygmies actually do eat tadpoles?

    My sister has this biologist experience with her son, who is only thirteen yet already has 3 snakes and a toad (which is large as a cowpat and looks just like one) living in the kitchen; seedlings of peculiar plants on every windowsill; a cupboard full of insect parts; and has to remove owl pellets and feathers from all garment pockets before putting things in the washing machine.

  15. How did I miss this post?? Very funny! I don’t mind snakes tooooo much, but can’t handle any sort of creepy crawly with legs. It’s definitely the legs that get me, especially when they’re black and hairy. Although, saying that, I did have to put a waste paper bin over a slug in the bathroom yesterday and just wait for HWW to get home to deal with it 😉

  16. Nope, I learnt how yucky slimy creatures were at a young age when I ran into the garden with bare feet late one night and stood on a pair of snails. The way they crunched and oozed under my feet still makes me feel sick!

    • Come off it, I’m sure someone sells that as upmarket alternative foot massage somewhere. Snail slime is good against wrinkles – they sell the cream! So squish a few more and the soles of your feet will be softer than a babies’ bum.

      • Mmm, sounds lovely…then maybe I could get some tiny fish to nibble it all off? And finish with a rhino horn foot cream?? 😉

  17. And you wouldn’t have it any other way, MM. 🙂 People with real passions are so much more interesting than those who don’t give a damn about things. They can be hell to live with at times, but at least that life is never dull…..

    P>S I’d give a lot to have seen Little My’s teacher’s face. 🙂

    • I wouldn’t swap him, not even for George Clooney (Hmm. Although George Clooney has coffee. Wrong example.)
      I am looking forward to the next parents’ evening – I would like PF to come with me to meet the teachers this time. Cue sadistic mouahahahaa laughter…

  18. Biologist doesn’t sound too bad for me, except for #5. I’ll wait at home while his out, turn off my phone and just wait for him to come home with nice sea shells haha 🙂 Wait a minute, not all cells have nucleus??? You got a smart kid, thanks to the biologist in the family 🙂

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