The Geek & The Deek: Dissecting Deer-heads During Dinner

A couple of weeks ago, C and I sat down to a savory dish of Shepherd’s Pie and I made the mistake of asking her, “So how was your day at work?”

Geek: Oh, it was so cool! We spent the day dissecting deer skulls for their lymph nodes.

Deek: ……….You what?

Geek, merrily poking away at her dinner with a fork: Patty, Dick, and I volunteered for the CWD research program, so John showed us how to a slice open a deer’s head and access the lower skull…

Deek:  Wait….CWD?

Geek: Chronic Wasting Disease.  It’s a neurological disease that only attacks the deer population.  You can find it first in the lymph nodes, so the Department is collecting samples to track it’s demographic.  Oh, jeez, Kevin, one of them was still chewing its cud when it got hit by a car.  It was all in its mouth and throat, and it smelled like runny poop…

Deek, looking down at his plate of Shepherd’s Pie:………………………

Geek: We had about eight deer heads to work on, collected by the Department from this week’s road kills.  Some of them were pretty chewed up by 18-wheelers…

Chronic Wasting Disease, I learned, is a real threat to the deer population of the Ozarks.  Research regarding it is going on in Missouri, Arkansas, and other nearby states.  It is a neurological disease of unknown origin and has no known cure. It is always fatal to any deer that contracts it, and it inflicts a slow, painful death on its victim.  Harmless to human and other mammals, it is spreading throughout the deer herd and, if not contained soon, could decimate the deer population.  The loss of deer in Missouri and elsewhere would have a major impact on the environment and the economy, to say nothing of the cruel death experienced by infected deer.  Research is essential, and a solution needs to be implemented fast.  I just wish I had remembered not to ask about it during dinner.  What is a geek’s fascinating topic for dinner conversation is not necessarily shared by her deek husband.

Geek: Wow, I thought that if I could bone a chicken, I certainly could find a lymph node in a deer head, but they’re not easy to find!  You have to hold onto its neck like you have it in a headlock and roll its head back while you carve through the gristle…

Deek: Yeah, wow, uhh, okay, I’m getting a beer from the fridge now.  Do you want anything?

Geek: …and finally you hear a snap and a pop and the head kinda folds back and the node pops up out of the brain…

Deek, as a button mushroom pops up out of his mashed potatoes: Ooo…Does it squirt up at you?

Geek: No, silly, you have to gouge it out.  You get….

Deek: Stop!  Stop!  It took me an hour and a half to make this dinner and you are going to ruin it in 5 minutes!  Could we talk about this later?  Like after dinner over coffee?

Geek, grinning: Oh!  Sorry.  Sure. Yeah.  What do you want to talk about?

Deek:  Well, anything….

Geek, shrugging: ‘K…  (She fiddles with her phone for a second, smirks at me, and holds up the screen.) Wanna see some pictures I took of it?  Blaugh!

Deek, smiling at his lovely geek and ignoring the screen: I will get even, one day.



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