Cornsy’s New Job

biostatisticsWriting last week about the Alloy Orchestra, who perform exclusively as accompanists for silent movies, got me thinking about my other friends who have incomprehensible jobs.

My wife, the needlessly beguiling Mrs. K, has an old friend named Cornsy whose job no one has ever been able to understand, and when she sent out an email announcement last week that she has accepted a new position, some of us were understandably concerned that we might finally know what she was talking about. It was a relief, then, to see that she had been appointed Director of Biostatistics at Cubist Pharmaceuticals -a brand new bunch of words as intriguing as they are impenetrable. She still had us flummoxed after all these years!

Long ago, before she was Director of Biostatistics, I had tried on more than one occasion to get Cornsy to explain her job to me, and each time come away more confused than ever. At the time, she was an epidemiologist, a word that even to this day somehow brings my mind to a dead stop. Needless to say, when I got the news about her new assignment, I was anxious to start failing to grasp it as soon as possible, so I called her up for a detailed explanation.

First of all, it turns out she had a couple of other jobs between: most recently, she had been a Director of Biostatistics at MacroChem; as is usual in any conversation about Cornsy’s occupation, this caused me to tilt my head and furrow my brow like a golden retriever.

Probably just to fill the giant pause that had resulted from this last revelation, she continued, saying that her company runs clinical tests to try to get product approval from the FDA, and that she herself collects data prior to submissions and writes protocol and study design prior to the data being processed into a data base where it is checked, verified, and queried -at which point it gets analyzed with biostatistics.

Of course, at this point I was gasping for air and flopping around on the floor like a fish. Man, she still had it!

Somehow, I rallied for a moment, enough to weakly ask her what a biostatistic was. (God, I hate science. Anything to do with science fills me with ambivalence.) She replied that there’s a lot of them: “there’s a nova; regression; uhmmm… exact statistics, non-parametric statistics. You have to get significant efficacy and an acceptable safety profile; then you have to write up the report.”

At this point, my face had turned green and there was smoke pouring out of my head. “Isn’t there…don’t you… is there anything at all, some word that you might… is there really no part of your job that, uhhh… caaa… ” I stammered.

Perhaps she was starting to lose her patience a little, but she did finally say, “well, at MacroChem we worked in the areas of erectile dysfunction and toe fungus…”

Ah HA! There! Some words I can understand! So her job does have something to do with some actual thing on earth! Or did, anyway -apparently, now that she’s at Cubist Pharmaceuticals, erectile dysfunction and toe fungus are things of the past.

Always good to see ol’ Cornsy, though… talk about a solid sense of humor!

That reminds me, don’t forget that the Provincetown Film Festival is happening this weekend; Mrs. K got a brand new extra long cigarette holder, and I got a Nehru jacket and a fairly stunning perm, and we’re planning on a pretty glamorous time.

Which doesn’t mean we won’t be checking out Link Montana’s latest incarnation, the Maplewoods (also featuring Jay Cournoyer) Sunday at the Cladagh in Harwich on Rt. 28 from 4 to 8; word is they’ll be doing Sundays all summer, so heads up.

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