I had occasion last week to tell the story of my high school friend Allen (name changed to protect his by now certainly stellar career). We had met again back in Evanston, before starting our sophomore years in college. I’d just finished a summer job as camp counselor in Wisconsin’s north woods; Allen had worked for Searle laboratories in Skokie.

I’d enjoyed my summer, but was a bit envious of Allen’s scientific job. “How was it?” I wanted to know.

“Fred, did you know that to test pharmaceuticals, they need a lot of sheep urine?” No, I didn’t know that.

“And that they have a bunch of sheep in the basement of the lab in downtown Skokie?” Nope, got me on that one too.

“Fred, do you know how to make a sheep urinate?” Beats me, says I.
“You hold its nose.” Hmm?

“That’s right, if you hold a sheep’s nose, it will pee.”

The awful truth was beginning to dawn on me. “Allen, you don't mean to tell me…”

“Yes,” he said, “I spent the summer in the lab basement holding sheep’s noses.”

I started to commiserate, but he interrupted me again. “And another guy, who had two years of college, stood behind the sheep with the beaker!”

At that, I was glad to have been a camp counselor out in the fresh air, instead of a college-kid lab flunky.

And that would be that, except for this week’s news item “Topical erectile dysfunction nanomedicine therapy shows promise.” In this development, nitric oxide encased in nanocapsules is applied directly to a male’s favorite organ. That is to say, rubbed on. So far, however, the treatment has been successfully tested only on male rats.

Male rats. I try not to visualize how this year's college-kid flunky spent his (or worse, her) summer in the rat lab. But I can’t help it.

So I’ve decided to inflict the image on you, too.  Good, now I feel better.