Sunday, April 2, 2017

Mercurochrome and the Mothers of Spring

All hail the Mothers of Spring! They are that fast, fierce, elite team of first responders always on the scene when their kids bash themselves up. The Mothers of Spring aren't real in the sense that they are a formally organized group; I more or less made that up. But they're very real in every other way, especially to any child who ever cried out for his while sorely in need of something akin to an Army medic.
Graphic by Teece Aronin

The Mothers of Spring are so called due to their ability to spring into action at a moment's notice, and also because, where I'm from, they're at their best during the spring season. You see, in my neck of the woods - the United States Midwest - Mothers of Spring shine brightest on the glorious days of April when it's warm in the sun and chilly in the shade, when children and their toes, get so carried away by the beauty of it all, and too dazzled by the light to look where they're going, and collide with something hard, like a section of buckled sidewalk. The Mothers of Spring deftly bandage up their wounded warriors, first applying enough antiseptic to sterilize Lenny Bruce's toothbrush. And yes, Bruce did kiss his mother with that mouth.

Down through the annals of time the Mothers of Spring dabbed every boo-boo deemed in their unchallengeable judgment as appropriate for it, with Mercurochrome. Mercurochrome was a reddish-orange colored tincture that once dried, became the reddish-orange skin stains kids wore as badges of honor. The cooler or more scrappy the kid, the more Mercurochrome stains he or she sported, or, conversely, the klutzier the kid was perceived as being. Baby Boomers know what I'm talking about. 

As it turned out, the Federal Drug Administration did prove capable of challenging the authority of the Mothers of Spring, Mercurachrome Division. In 1998, the FDA found that Mercurochrome was "not generally recognized as safe and effective." It wasn't flat-out banned, but it did get a whole lot harder to find. The comely flower-wreathed heads of the Mothers of Spring, especially those who were also Traditionalists or Baby Boomers, snapped up as one at this news, and many of the mommies yelled, "What the f*€#?"

It turns out that Mercurachrome didn't get that first syllable, "merc," from nowhere. It got it because Mercurochrome contains mercury, an ingredient no self-respecting fish would get caught dead with. While Mercurochrome didn't seem particularly hazardous when used as directed, it probably wasn't doing kids a whole lot of good. 

In an episode of I Hate Chris, the sitcom based on the childhood recollections of comedian Chris Rock, someone yells, "Chris got hit by a car!" and Chris' mother shouts, "I'll get the Robitussin!"

Robitussin is another must-have in the medicine cabinet of every good Mother of Spring.