On this day in science, in 1774, Joseph Priestly discovered oxygen. He took a breath and held it until his lungs started to burn.
A century later Joseph Pittman battling trench foot in a coal mine watched his canary fall over so ran up the mine shaft until he found daylight. He noticed his legs which usually were on fire when he ran had an unusual coolness, almost jellylike. He said he didn’t know how long he’d been without oxygen. Too long, it turned out. He fell over dead.
A century after Joseph Pittman died, four teenagers camped along the Alleghany River with a kerosene lantern lit the whole night. None of them woke up, but had classic signs of dying in their sleep, curled like shrimp to keep warm, bottles of stolen liquor and butts of marijuana near their sleeping bags. The teenagers had probably thought the confusion, the dementia even, had been caused by the liquor and the marijuana, and might have laughed themselves not to sleep but literally to death.
Two hundred and forty years after oxygen had been discovered, two young research assistants, who had repeatedly used a hyperbaric chamber flooding themselves with oxygen to produce a myopic state, just for the humor of it, went blind when their retinas detached, but gained widespread fans for describing the last twenty minutes of almost hallucinatory visions before blindness. This lead to many other young people attempting oxygen overload.
Burn, baby, burn.
On this day in science, the Magi Negan discovered that the moon was smaller in the middle of the night than at moonrise or moonset.
On this same day his brother Magoon showed the moon was the same size by using a pair of rude calipers, but that optically the eye was tricked by the nearness of objects that were not available in the sky.
On this same day romanticists wept, and Magi Negan, after having bones thrown and read on the sand by a shaman, had his brother Magoon assassinated for not telling the truth.
Just as goat herders discovered cheese by walking with goat’s milk in leather bags, the jostling and separation creating curds, on this day in science in 1848 Dottie Levinger had diluted her own milk with sugar and shavings from a block of ice to make it easier for her tongue-tied child to drink, and with Scottish jigs being played in a dance hall began to dance with the concoction, which soon turned into a thicker drink, the first milk shake. She had to use a spoon to feed her child, and as she told about the trick news spread quickly. Soon in the entire county of Holstein women were dancing with milk and shaved ice, their husbands hoping the hot spell stayed.
Jeff Burt works in mental health (well, that sounds like he’s trying to fit being mentally healthy into a busy non-healthy schedule and failing, so maybe works at mental health, but that sounds like maybe he doesn’t have it, so maybe works for, no, works about, no.)
I am the best in the business for a reason. I know where to look, and precisely what to look for.
You first start with the feet; painted nails but only in pastels, heels visibly soft and pink like a baby’s cheeks. Next, the legs; hidden of course under a lovely pleated shalwar, with the exception of ankles maybe, tulip shalwars are quite the trend these days, never jeans though, churidars can pass if of a tasteful color. Then you move to the torso. Aye don’t tell me I’m objectifying. I have been thriving since before you were a wee thing, sucking your thumb. Listen, shush. Kameez down to the knee, an inch above or below works but never two. Tailored just perfectly, not too tight, never too tight because that’s a covert statement. We don’t invite that. We don’t entertain that. Spend as long as I have in the business, and you’ll figure it out. Now shush again, let me finish.
Legs, torso. Make a note: sleek, slim, hair-free. Slick and glossy. I don’t endorse thick, curvy or hairy. Aye don’t tell me what century this is. Traditions don’t bat an eye over it, we don’t either.
Move to the face. First, the skin: white as a cow’s milk, fresh like lilies with petals sprinkled with water. Lips, pink, maybe slightly wine stained. But never never scarlet red. (Side note: wine in smaller sips, on social occasions only. Yes, there are ways to find out but that’s stage three. This is stage one)
Next, nose. Not too small, not too long. Never sharp, that’s indicative of shrewdness. A beautiful, slender one is the ideal.
Eyes, not too far apart. Not too small as if they’ve sunk inside the skeleton. Not too large as if they will pop right out, or reach and sneakily wrap their gaze on another, one not meant for them. Always always, looking down. Eyelids swept, but again: only pastel colors. Bold is not beautiful.
Last and most important: hair. Shoulder length, acceptable. Anything below, too much. And I cannot endorse that. I have a brand, an image. The ideal length: right up to the waist, thick and lustrous. Pulsing with beauty.
Are you noting this down somewhere?
Bareerah Y. Ghani is an MFA candidate in fiction at George Mason University. You can follow her on Twitter @Bareera_yg where she usually whines about first drafts, and the stress of having an ever-growing TBR list. When she’s not reading/writing, she’s usually watching reruns of The Office or finding new tunes to play on her guitar.