“Renata!” Dr. van Oustil cried. “This is your report card?”
Heads turned and the party stilled a bit as father began to publicly berate daughter.
“How can you be getting a C- in physics?” he demanded. “Here I am, an internationally renowned particle physicist, and you embarrass me with a C- in high school physics? Does heredity count for nothing, after all? How will you get on in life?”
A few partygoers chuckled; others were red with shame on the girl’s behalf, or perhaps remembering lectures from their own parents.
Renata stared at her father for a moment. The report card had been lying on the table for two days, but he waited until he could be the center of attention to chastise her. She caught a fleeting glance of her mother retreating to the kitchen, wanting to be anywhere other than near the spotlight. This was the van Oustil version of a normal day.
Renata walked a few steps to the open bar next to the refreshment table and snatched up a forbidden glass of merlot. Making certain she had her father’s attention, she downed it in a single gulp.
“Don’t get so upset, Father,” she said. “I have every intention of becoming a prostitute. I already know the little bit of biology I need for that career.” She motioned to her father’s closest collaborator. “Just ask Heinrich. He’ll vouch for me.” And she tossed the glass lightly to the floor and went to her bedroom.
The party broke up shortly after the police arrived. They were responding to an urgent call about a physicist trying to kill his colleague.