Love Song for a Scientist

by Ted Sadler

© Copyright 2004

SG-1 belongs to them, not to me. The song belongs to a genius named Tom Lehrer. Buy his records if you want to learn more.


Sam wanted the evening to end, and yet to never end. She and Pete Shanahan sat at a table for four, with Daniel Jackson and his fiancée Sarah. It was near to the top table, but sufficiently far back that they were out of the spotlights.

The guest of honour sat between General George Hammond (Ret'd.) and Doctor Elizabeth Weir, former Head of the SGC. The current, retiring CO, General Jack O'Neill seemed to be enjoying their company, thought Sam enviously. This was *so* not the way she had envisaged it was going to be.

She still liked Pete after a fashion, but had no-one to blame but herself for the fact that her continuing on-off relationship with him had driven away the man she really loved. *He* hadn't even looked their way during his retirement dinner, and that Weir woman seemed to be paying more than polite attention to him, which he in turn seemed to be lapping up. But Pete was an episode coming to an end, Jack or no Jack in her life. She wasn't looking forward to their conversation tomorrow, when she knew she was going to 'Dear John' him. And after tomorrow – no Pete, no fishing trip, no nothing except a career that had once meant everything, and was now half a life, despite the dazzling multi-planetary science that lay before her.

When the evening ended, she would have seen the last of *him*. So she didn't want it to pass. But her consort's never-ending attempts to inject humour and flattery into their conversation were irritating, and she had caught Daniel's look of disdain earlier on, and had blushed with embarrassment. How come *his* jokes had never got on her nerves?"

The double Armagnac she had taken as a liqueur after the meal should see her through the speeches, she thought, so she ordered another just in case Jack's last words might upset her. Pete didn't approve, and Daniel didn't care, so she ordered a third to spite them all and take away any residual sadness that might be 'inappropriate' at the end of the evening. God, how she hated that word. But all that alcoholic power couldn't take away the tension that built up in her when he rose to make his farewell speech.

The conversation died away and he began.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Honoured guests, Officers and Men of the SGC, and Daniel."

"Thanks, Jack!" cried Dr. Jackson, high on the effects of sherry trifle.

"It has been an honour to serve." stated Jack, his voice echoing around the room. "That goes for every single man and woman I've had the pleasure to know in the SGC." A round of applause came and went.

"Now, I know that you've got a good betting pool going on the length of my speech tonight." Laughter ensued, and Jack looked straight at Lou Ferretti. "Well, Major, I've got a surprise for you. There will be no winner tonight! That pool of money you're sitting on is going straight to charity, right?"

Ferretti looked back in surprise. "Right?" repeated Jack, grinning evilly at him. The Major nodded in compliance. "Ex – cell – ent!" cried Jack, to a brief round of applause.

"Because the speech part ends in the next thirty seconds!" said Jack, to everyone's astonishment. "Instead, I have taken the advice of General Hammond and spared you all!" More laughter, but a look of disbelief on Sam's face.

Jack looked round the audience until he spied Sergeant Walter Davis. "Walter! Your assistance, please." Davis stood up on cue, and walked proudly onto the dais, taking his seat in front of the piano situated at behind the top table. He pulled back his cuffs and poised his hands above the keys, looking to Jack for a sign.

When the murmur of astonishment in the crowd died down, Jack strode over to the piano and stood by a microphone on a stand. "I don't believe this!" Sam heard Daniel exclaim. She merely sat stunned.

"This is for my favourite scientist." Jack stated. "It's adapted from the Gilbert and Sullivan song about senior ranks. Walter, if you please."

Davis began the familiar introduction to 'I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General', and Jack started right on cue, his voice loud and clear through the address system..

"There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium,

And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium,

And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium,

And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium."

A gasp went up from the room as he paused for breath and Walter added the extra line of music. Jack ploughed straight on.

"Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium,

And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium,

And gold, protactinium and indium and gallium,

And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium."

At the next piano break, there was a definite current of laughter sweeping the room, and all Sam could do was stare open-mouthed at him.

"There's yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium,

And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium,

And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium,

And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium, and barium."

Once more Jack paused for breath as Davis did his stuff, before launching into the next stanza.

"There's holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium,

And phosphorus and francium and fluorine and terbium,

And manganese and mercury, molybdenum, magnesium,

Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and cesium."

By now some of the more scientific members of the audience were beginning to clap in time to the music.

"And lead, praseodymium, and platinum, plutonium,

Palladium, promethium, potassium, polonium,

And tantalum, technetium, titanium, tellurium,

And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium."

Jack played to the gallery, pretending to be exhausted as he took his next deep breath.

"There's sulfur, californium, and fermium, berkelium,

And also mendelevium, einsteinium, nobelium,

And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc, and rhodium,

And chlorine, carbon, cobalt, copper, tungsten, tin, and sodium."

He paused but the clapping continued for a few seconds. When it had died down, he launched into the final couplet.

"These are the only ones of which the news has come to Har - vard,

And there may be many others, but they haven't been disc – a - vard."

The whole audience erupted into applause and wild cheering. Sam joined in, but she was the only one who had tears streaming down her face as she stood clapping. Suddenly she realised that he was looking straight at her, a wry smile across his face. She stared back, and watched in awe as he mimicked the action of casting a rod.

Suddenly, the next day was going to be worth looking forward to.


Author's note: if you want to see and hear this song, try a web search on 'Tom Lehrer' and look out for his song 'The Elements'. There's a brilliant presentation of it on the website, in the Flash Animation section.