BOSTON. It’s 7:25 p.m. on a weekday night, and Thom Gianini is nervously looking at his watch amid a sea of empty seats at a hotel ballroom here. “If this were the Cancer Society or the Heart Association, every table would be filled,” says the professional event planner who’s been hired by the American Appendix Society to boost interest in the organization through a successful gala. “For some reason people just don’t get excited about the appendix.”
“The next item up for bid is a free appendicitis–I mean appendectomy.”
And indeed the vermiform appendix is the poor relation among body parts when it comes to charitable giving, consistently ranking last among the organs–vital and non-vital–that depend on private charity for research funding. “People are constantly asking me ‘The appendix–you mean supplementary material attached to the end of a piece of writing?’” says Philip de Pierre, the AAS’s executive director. “I have to tell them ‘No, the narrow tube about three or four inches long that extends from the cecum in the lower right hand part of the abdomen, silly!’”
So small, and yet–so insignificant.
The veriform or “worm-shaped” appendix, known simply as “the appendix” to its friends, is a vestigial structure that has lost its original function through the process of evolution. The organ was found in a remote ancestor of humans where it housed mutualistic bacteria that assisted in the digestion of plants. Long-time appendix fans say it is due for a comeback with the growing popularity of “salad bars” and disgusting kale dishes foisted on an unsuspecting public by the likes of Whole Foods and the First Lady of the United States.
Kale salad: Seriously–people eat this stuff.
“If you ask me, the appendix is going to be the ‘hot’ organ of the twenty-teens,” says Norman Wallop of Philanthropic Advisors, which counsels people who have too much money on what to waste it on. “The whole third-world orphan thing has been tarnished by entertainment industry stars, and it’s hard to plan fund-raisers around tsunamis until they learn to show up on schedule.”
Appendix Society Poster Child: Has an appendix, isn’t sure what for.
In addition to both live and silent auctions, tonight’s event will feature a mime troupe simulating an appendicitis attack, without the groans.
“It will be the challenge of my career,” says Jean-Claude Couillard, leader of The Silent Treatment. “How do you convey to an audience that has only one appendix left that they could lose it at any time?”
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “The Spirit of Giving.”