PHILADELPHIA -- Bryan Christy plans to hunker down with a beer in his Philadelphia living room at 9 p.m. EST Wednesday and tune in to a National Geographic documentary that stars, among others, him.
Christy's investigative article for the October issue of National Geographic, exposing the scourge of the illegal ivory trade, is the basis for the documentary "Battle for the Elephants."
The hermetic setting he has chosen to watch is a stark contrast to his recent celebrity whirlwind -- making the rounds of the Explorers Club in Manhattan, appearing on MSNBC and PBS "Newshour," and speaking at international conferences about the black market in ivory.
On the surface, Christy's situation is not that complicated: National Geographic has assigned him to look into stories about endangered wildlife.
His backstory, however, is a twisty tale of thwarted family expectations, ghastly fascinations and balance sheets.
Over pots of mint tea last week at a restaurant here, Christy spoke about his life and work.
In 1995, his 55-year-old father, Paul, was in the terminal stages of colon cancer at Pennsylvania Hospital. It wasn't the dying man doing the confessing, though. It was Christy.
After disappointing the relatives who wanted him to go into the family funeral business in South Jersey, Christy graduated from Pennsylvania State University and became an accountant. Uninspired by that line of work, he went to law school, won a Fulbright scholarship to study in Tokyo, and returned to a spot at a Washington law firm, specializing in international trade.
He was 36, owned a townhouse near the Capitol, and drove a Jaguar. But he was unhappy. Nervous and shaking, sitting beside his father, Christy shared his dark secret: "I've always wanted to be a writer."
His father's response -- "If you can pay your bills, do what you love" -- rerouted Christy's life.