The Blissium Effects

July 7, 2003

I drove to Albuquerque the other day and while listening to the radio a local travel agency ran an ad to tell me that I could cure my depression with a trip to Alaska. Then the Visa people ran an ad saying that they could cure my depression by sending me almost anywhere. I was just working on that when a drug company advertised a pill that would change the chemistry in my brain. They said the side effects might include serious stomach trouble and nausea and many other desperately unappealing things which took a little longer to describe than the benefits. They did not really explain those benefits, either, except to change my brain. The ad said I should ask my doctor whether I needed that. By the time I got to thinking about whether I had the courage to ask my doctor about a brain change I forgot the name of the pill.

Then came an ad for Blissium. The Blissium people said that they could make me feel good without side effects and that it was better than valium or alcohol. Blissium would put me in ecstasy and I could take it every day and just go on about my daily business. I could feel like I was on a trip to Alaska or Mexico and stay right at my desk, phone in my ear, fingers on the keys. This might be a whole lot cheaper than a plane or boat trip. Blissium would be like some kind of time machine that would take me back to ancient Rome, anoint me with oil, bring me vestal virgins and provide some slave to do the heavy work of pouring wine down my throat.

Would Blissium, I wondered, even help me get through the morning papers? Would I still be in ecstasy when I read that the president of the United States had ordered yet another study of global warming in order to put off doing anything about it? How much ecstasy can a reasonable person sustain? The president is cutting back on veterans benefits for the very soldiers he praises and sends off to wade around in the depleted uranium in the desert. Will Blissium help me or the soldiers to feel good about all this?

I guess if I go on vacation and do the Visa thing I might forget that the president is saving money from schools and arts and medicare in order to be able to give tax benefits to the rich. Maybe that is what vacations are for. And if the whole country goes on that brain change pill, the 2004 elections will be a cinch for anyone who happens to be still standing.

The ultimate terrorist act probably would be to put Blissium into the Rio Grande river water. By the time we all had a drink someone could put all of New Mexico, including Los Alamos and Sandia labs, to sleep. Osama Ben Laden could just put all those scientists into ecstasy. Or the Republicans could put some of that stuff in the Santa Fe water supply and about half the liberals west of the Mississippi would fall asleep.

I have thought about sending a note to Attorney General Ashcroft suggesting that Homeland Security or the FBI or someone very Christian investigate the Blissium danger, but then it occurred to me that maybe they already have. Maybe even first hand. If there is going to be a Blissium investigation it is going to have to come from people who are still maintaining a healthy level of life-threatening stress. The radio ad did not say whether a person is supposed to smoke it, or drink it, or pop a pill but there is serious evidence that Congress and the White House may already be testing it. The attention span there is short. The excuses for war are flexible. The care about detail lost in the ecstasy of power. Someone should check the water in the Potomac.