It’s Halloween, and ’tis the time of year when we celebrate and immerse ourselves in the dark and diabolical, styling ourselves in the fabulous guises of demons and satanic forms, goblins, ghouls and ghosts, as well as wandering between various soirees and parties in a state of pleasant inebriation. It’s the time of the macabre and the menacing, the demonic and dreadful, the frightful and the freakish. As a side note, that’s also the basic description of my average work day. Anyone need an extra liver?
Yet, in this time the hallowed festival, as at any time of year, the most gruesome, horrible and grotesque members of our society continue to be overlooked. Because, my friends, there is nothing that more summarizes the despicable and the disgraceful and all that is wrong with our species, than those notorious, nefarious, nasty little imps whom we let freely roam our otherwise unsullied domiciles and streets.
Yes, you’ve guessed it. Children. Tiny, infectious, odoriferous, inhuman, undeveloped and uneducated, endlessly absorbing our valuable resources and time. Turning productive, care-free adults into slack-jawed, sleep-deprived slaves, twisted so expertly about the tiny, disease-ridden digits of their progeny. I simply can’t stand them. And the noise! Oh the noise. Even as insubstantial a frame as they appear to possess, their surprisingly capacious lungs can expel hideous screams that would make even a banshee feel insecure. And most of them can’t even speak English! Gibberish and nonsense!
The list goes on. Absolutely dreadful.
Ugh. Children. I shudder even to think of them. But in the supposedly civilized society in which we live, they are tolerated, even adored. They exist, in my opinion, akin to some form of fungal parasite that no amount of scrubbing will remove.
Now, on the surface it might appear that I am in the minority regarding my opinions of the little sacks of mayhem. That is, until one looks at the average product marketed to children, specifically Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup. Because, it is upon closer inspection of the bottle’s label that might cause one to suppose that perhaps the parents had been trying to kill their young all along. I’m not without sympathy – extended nights listening to children crying for no goddamn reason might drive anyone to extremes.
Due to my extensive studies of the infant human frame, it is known to myself that human young experience teething, and while it is satisfying that they experience some small sample of the torment they inflict upon others, the schadenfreude is mitigated by the perpetual pained screaming emitted from the child, lest anybody neglect to remember that the tiny darling is still alive and kicking. To reduce the infantile clamor, remedies such as Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup was delivered to the little snots in an attempt to calm them down. And calm them down it did, earning itself the delightful moniker ‘Mother’s Little Helper’.
And the secret ingredient? You mean other than the ammonia? Well, it would be morphine, an ingredient guaranteed to shut the child up faster than a patient with a severed larynx. With 65mg of morphine per fluid ounce it might not have been long, once sampled, for both mother and child to be in a blissful, euphoric and most importantly, quiet state. So proud of the efficacy of the concoction, that the manufacturers assured it could ‘sooth both animal and human’ – because when advertising the somnambulant qualities of your product, it was perfectly okay to mention that it could also knock out the average domestic pet – as well as your newborn.
“To every mother who has children suffering from any of the complaints incident to the period of teething, we say do not let your own prejudices, or the prejudices of others, stand in the way of the relief that will be sure — yes, absolutely sure — to follow the use of MRS. WINSLOW’S SOOTHING SYRUP.”
The potentially lethal fluid was first marketed in 1849 by Jeremiah Curtis and Benjamin Perkins, using various reputable media sources such as recipe books and home improvement periodicals. It was immensely popular, selling almost 1.5 million bottles of the intoxicant annually across the western world. Wounded American civil war veterans were known to procure the stuff in the absence of medical morphine and many used it recreationally.
As a modicum of defense in favor of the parents. ingredients were not required to be displayed on the label, and most were unaware of the constituent chemicals. As a result, overdosing of children was quite common. For those insomniac parents who managed to avoid accidentally and excessively sedating the child, they had the symptoms of morphine addiction to add to all the other wonderful qualities that the mini-trolls offer during their adolescence.
So although I aggressively expressed earlier my severe distaste for those endlessly destructive little fecal-factories, I don’t advocate their actual demise, as this ‘soothing remedy’ seemed almost designed to do. One must wonder however if such grand sales volumes were due to some very appreciative parents, who even upon discovering the toxic contents and no longer feeding it to the small humans in the house, might have found other uses for the potion…
…as with tiny indefatigable little monsters careening about the house at full speed, not going to bed, happily disintegrating any prized possession you held dear, demanding perpetual attention and comestibles, it would be quite understandable that, from time to time, Mommy and Daddy might wish to take a little ‘time off’. Sometimes cognac doesn’t quite cut it.
Oh my, how rude of me, I almost forgot: have a very happy Halloween, with best wishes from myself, Doctor Pembroke. I hereby prescribe to you all an extremely efficacious medicine for the coming weekend; it is well known that large enough quantities of whiskey can and will assuage any and all pains, whether it be teething, gunshot wounds or relationship problems. Go ahead. Doctor’s orders.
This article was originally published in The Pandora Society on October 28th 2015