Hello. My name is Ian and I’m a mercurial.
It’s hard for me to say those words, because it’s admitting to my greatest shame, my worst failing:
I’m a mercury addict.
A heavy metal fan.
A snorter of the quicksilver. (Also known as quickie, though you have to be careful when you ask for it by that name. Can lead to misunderstandings.)
That is, I am addicted to the consumption of the element Hg, and I’ve just come off a two month bender.
Big deal, you say? Mercury isn’t a controlled substance, so how bad can it be, you ask?
Well, it’s hardly the fun-loving addiction of other drugs, like heroin or crack. This one comes with severe, real-world consequences:
- Visual, auditory, and olfactory delusions
- Semi-permanent hiccups
But there are moments, moments of non-clarity (usually while in the throes of its metallic hug), that mercury seems worth all the costs.
I can see you, having now been appraised of the dire consequences, shaking your head in judgment, tsk-tsking.
Asking yourself what could possibly make Hg worth the risks, what could lead an adult male of reasonable intellect to fall into thermometer chewing, as it is sometimes called.
Two words. The two most dreaded, hated, and libido-killing words ever uttered:
I once wrote about where my ideas came from, but that post. like the cake, is a lie.
It was mercury.
It was always mercury.
Turns out mercury does something to your brain, something that leads to more creativity, more ideas, making it the ultimate writer’s block buster.
And before you get too judgmental, did you know that all the best ideas come from us metal munchers?
It’s true. Mercury bumps our brains up to ’11’.
Einstein: strung out on mercury for the first half of his career. He’d likely have come up with the atomic bomb all by himself if he hadn’t quit.
Tesla: Lifetime addict. Upon reviewing the body of his work, most experts suspect he probably started Hg in the womb.
Henry Ford: he originally envisioned a car that ran on mercury, but switched to gasoline when he realized his original fuel plan would make ‘recreational’ mercury more expensive.
George W. Bush: Like the English language, there are always exceptions to the rule. And that defines ol’ Dubya. He got all the liabilities, none of the assets of guzzling the merc.
Hawking: well, he’s never publicly admitted to it, but there’s this guy who comes to some of our meetings in a wheel chair with a voice synthesizer and ALS who bears a strong resemblance to the man.
Yes, we have meetings.
Mercury Anonymous, or HgA (pronounced Hug-uh).
It’s where we support each other in our fight to shake off the silver dragon. Where we ask for help and understanding when we fall off the wagon and land in that bright, shimmery puddle of lustrous, luscious liquid metal.
Which is not as pleasant (or visually stunning) to fall into as you’d think.
Believe me, you don’t know rock bottom until you wake up in an alley, a bunch of broken thermometers in your mouth, and your pants soaked through with mercury.
(Yes, it does indeed stain.)
Double rock bottom these days, because modern thermometers don’t use mercury. But, mortally desperate, that doesn’t stop you, doesn’t make the wishing override the facts.
So you wake up, your mouth dripping red, still seeking to douse the unquenched crave, and you don’t know how much is blood and how much is red-tinted alcohol.
The only thing worse is the series finale to Lost.
One of the tenants of HgA is that you need to stay motivated for success if you want to stay off the silver sasquatch. Which is why we have sobriety medals as part of our meetings.
Although to be honest, they aren’t very well thought out.
They’re made of mercury.
Usually sealed in plastic disks, but sometimes frozen, which means you have to keep them cold.
Really cold. As in “No, you can’t wear that against your chest, it will melt. Here, have some liquid nitrogen, no, I can’t pour it into your hands, where is your dewar? What do you mean, you didn’t bring it? You knew you’d be getting this medal tonight!” cold.
Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I forgot my dewar… But I digress.
You get a medallion when you’re sober for thirty days.
The only problem with that? The idea-boosting effects of a single hit of thermo juice lasts about a month.
You can see why this might present a dilemma.
A mad hatter can go clean for a month, get a 30 day sobriety medallion, and then thar she is, lying there, so close, not so sober as we were led to believe.
So much the better.
You break it open, snort the contents, wait for the vomiting to stop and the mood swings to settle, and write your next blog post.
You ‘fess up at the next meeting, go cold turkey while still getting all the creative benefits, and then just as the month winds down and you need another hit…
You get that next 30 day coin.
I blame this lack of farsightedness on the fact that HgA was founded by addicts, and apparently mercury poisoning can impair your ability to reason.
Also, I can’t rule out diabolical ingenuity, because knowing you get that mercury if you stay off it for a month is a powerful incentive.
I said mercury gives you crazy ideas, not that it made you smart.