Writer’s Workshop: My Contribution To Science

The prompt I’m choosing today is "Share about a time you responded to an ad in a paper." A few things before we start:

  • This is a true story, and not one I’m especially proud of.
  • It has to do with my response to a news story (not really an ad) in the Daily Northwestern when I was a sophomore (specifically Spring Quarter 1976).
  • It’s definitely not safe for work, and not for our younger and more sensitive readers.
  • Just to be on the safe side, I’m putting it behind a cut tag…

A big part of campus life at Northwestern when I was there was reading the Daily Northwestern. It was published (and probably still is) by students in the Medill School of Journalism, one of the top schools of journalism in the nation. It was a combination of school announcements, political cartoons, op-eds, and ads for restaurants close to campus.

One day, a page 3 story was about someone in the Biology Department who was working on a birth control pill for men. They were past the initial round of testing, and now they needed voluntary contributions from any man who had what they were looking for. Namely, sperm samples. In exchange, they were offering a shiny new $5 bill as remuneration.

All the guys in the Commuter Lounge were having a good laugh about it, but in the back of my mind, I started thinking it’d be nice to have $5. So, I walked to the other end of campus and saw the biologist, who gave me a plastic cup and said "You know what to do, right?"

I found a men’s room in a quiet building on campus, and five minutes later had the required sample, which I turned in and got my $5.

Not long after my "exchange," I happened to mention it to one of my friends, and you know what happened: the next day everyone greeted at me with a styrofoam cup and a $5 bill.

That should have been the end of the story. But it wasn’t.

About a year later, I was engaged to Mary and the two of us went up to Evanston to have lunch with my NU buddies. A bunch of us went to a local hot dog stand for lunch. One of the guys was Peter, who was a freshman and whose parents owned the building in Rogers Park where my family and I had lived. At some point during the ride, he says, "Hey, John, I heard about your contribution to science." Mary starts asking the other guys in the car what Peter was talking about, and they were all kind of hush-hush about it. Since none of us would talk, she came out with the funniest line any of us had heard: "It’s okay, I’ll beat it out of him later."

I decided that the following song was appropriate…

33 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: My Contribution To Science

  1. Both amusing and embarrassing. In the Air Force I worked at a medic in a Air Force hospital and an enlisted Lab Tech told me an amusing story about a man he gave a sample cup to for a sperm sample (it’s the same cup they hand out for urine samples) and took his sample cup into the bathroom. After quite a good bit of time he finally came back out all red in the face and apologized to the lab tech for having tried his best, but wasn’t able to completely fill the sample cup.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh that’s really good! I know it was difficult to live that one down for a long, long time and I bet there are some who still remember it today. Today, you can just laugh about it. The answer I wanna know is, did Mary beat it out of you ? :) That’s a good line! lol


      1. Sometimes I’m like that clueless of how funny something comes off usually it’s because of my complete innocence of the situation which is quite frequent. DH gets a huge laugh from it. I’m just glad I never take any of it personally and I’m grateful he explains. Yeah, I hear you on the money. $5 was a lot of money in the mid-70s. I remember cleaning our neighbors house for the same amount or it could’ve been a little less but it was a good way for a kid to earn money.

        Liked by 1 person

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