A most charming companion met me for coffee the other day bringing news (from NPR, I think she said) about the invention of new artificial heart that does not produce a beat or pulse. Without a heartbeat, the story speculated, should the person who wears one of these things be considered alive?I rummaged through the high school Biology Department in my head for the orders of heartless, bloodless, pulse-less animals.
"You wouldn't say a sponge is not alive, would you?" I said after several minutes.
"No, I wouldn't," the charming companion said. "But did you know that some vegans think it's morally o.k. to eat oysters because they have no hearts?"
Really? I have to concede this excellent point to the vegans. Just imagine plunging your cocktail fork into a live oyster knowing there's a beating heart inside.
Walking back to the office, I was overcome by a feeling of deja vu. Haven't I heard this dialogue before? Yes! It was the famous bathtub scene in Spartacus with Larry Olivier as the lacivious Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus and Tony Curtis as the wary slave and towel-boy, Antoninus. Here's the clip. You'll love how Olivier steers the conversation around to reveal that he's not only bivalve-ular, but also bisexual.