Sunday, 25 May 2014

Tommy the Hatter

Long ago, in a town that nobody can accurately name, there was a young boy. By now he is nearly as nameless as the town that he once lived in. The only thing that keeps this namelessness away from him is the fact that we all know him from our early childhoods. He is the Mad Hatter from wonderland. However, for the sake of this story we will call him Tommy. Tommy was always a little different from other boys though not always crazy. What made him odd, you might ask. Well, that I can tell you easily. He was obsessed with hats. Women’s hats, to be precise. While other boys ran wild through the streets of the small now nameless town, Tommy scrutinized the hats of the fashionable women in town, the normal women in town, and the young girls in town becoming more fascinated by the day. When he decided to go in to the hatting business nobody was surprised. He found as many books about hatting as he possibly could and allowed himself to learn many things. One of the things Tommy found would be fundamental in his journey to insane though he did not know it yet. Mercury(II) nitrate is a poisonous chemical made when mercury in its elemental form is combined with concentrated nitric acid. It used to be used to treat fur in a process called carroting. Carroting was used from the 1600’s to the mid 1900’s. Now you might be wondering exactly what carroting was. Well, so was Tommy. All the books that he found on hatting didn’t elaborate much. Or perhaps they did and he didn’t have the skills to read them. Unfortunately we will never know the extent of  Tommy’s reading skill so let us assume that they didn’t elaborate much. The way Tommy decided to fill the holes in his knowledge hatting was an apprenticeship. Coincidentally, the first thing he learned during his apprenticeship was carroting. He learnt that animal skins were treated with a diluted solution of mercuric nitrate and then were put into an oven until the thin fur on the sided of the pelt turned orange, like carrots. These hat making processes were even more fascinating to Tommy than hats were and he became really truly over the moon happy, a kind of happiness that most people never get to feel in their entire lives.  His hats were amazing and soon Tommy owned his own hat making shop. People came to his shop, hundreds of them. His hats were famous. Unfortunately for his clients, Tommy’s health soon began to decline. All his sense became duller, he began to lack coordination, and his skin was always a rosy red. Although nobody at the time knew this, these were all telltale symptoms of mercury poisoning. Nowadays, we can treat mercury poisoning.  The standard treatment is called chelation therapy which is a way to remove heavy metals from the body. But when Tommy was alive nobody knew this so he continued to go do the thing he loved every day resulting in more exposure to the deadly chemical and worsening of his health. He became more insane by the day and soon he died. His funeral was one full of beautiful hats and laughter at memories of him and his nonsensicalness. In other words, it was one of the more beautiful funerals that our planet has seen and marked the ending of a remarkable though short life nearly as well as it marks the ending of this story.

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