But first, a little something I know about copper. Mix zinc and copper together in a 60/40 ratio, and apply this to the underside of a ship, and it exhibits excellent biostatic qualities - known in shipping-circles as 'anti-fouling'. It prevents mussels, algaes, barnacles and things of that ilk from making their home, and in doing so, prevents them from reducing the hydrodynamic qualities of the underside of the ship. That way the boat will go 'zoom' and not 'squelch' as it zips around the oceans and lakes of our planet.
I guess in the early days the alloy (or pure copper until they figured out how to make it cheaper by alloying it with zinc) was nailed to the hull, but with the advent of fibreglass hulls, nails were no longer an effective binding mechanism. So someone at a paint company figured out how to add the biostatic substance to paint. I guess it isn't quite as hardy as sheets of metal, so I think it was the second time I'd painted it on in a few years. But before I go on about painting the bottom of the boat, let me tell you about my eyes.
I studied psychology in University and spent many evenings in the library reading medical and psychological journals - mostly for fun but also to keep the demons away. I'd been particularly anxious in my second year, and one late night came across an article about Kaiser-Fleischer rings which are a manifestation of Wilson's Disease.
Wilson's disease is an autosomal recessive defect in the copper metabolizing pathway in your cellular world. You end up getting copper accumulating in your liver, and later in your brain, and kidneys and in your corneas. What had caught my attention was something like this:
"Clinical Presentation: Neuropsychiatric sx-motor sx (tremor, chorea, decreased movement), loss of coordination of fine movements; personality changes; sz are infrequent; sensory abnormalities don't seem to occur."
I'd read something about anxiety/depression etc... in the original description I'd seen in the journal article. I probably left my cubicle, and went to the bathroom, and on my way out examined my eyes to see if I could detect any Keiser-Fleischer rings evident in my corneas. I saw them. Coppery-coloured deposits in my corneas. That's why I have greenish-brownish eyes. COPPER. OH MY GOD PANIC.
So the next morning I called the clinic and got an appointment with the school doctor. The nurse met me first in the office and took my history. She was older and big and I think she looked like an Olga or a Helga. To make a long story short, she sent me home after I explained my dire prognosis to her, but not before giving me a hug and telling me I needed to have more rest and to relax a little.
But anyway, back to painting that hull. I remember beginning to paint. The black, tarry paint was heavy with a slurry-like concoction of what seemed like iron-filings. As I painted it on, I inhaled more and more of the potent solvent that gave fluidity to the magic elements that would promise to keep creepy-crawlies away from the boat hull in the coming seasons. I remember my dad driving up to the shipyard after a few hours of my being left alone to paint, I remember him exiting the car, and I remember giggling furiously and trying to be composed while he made jokes with me about nothing at all, like, 'how about this weather?' and, 'are you hungry?' etc.... I was incredibly high from the solvent and it took a couple of uncomfortable hours for me to come down.