I Just Like to Say It….

My dad spent decades as a bench scientist. He’d come home sometimes reeking of sulfuric acid, other times he’d come home reeking of the goat barn, because the goat udder has a non-permeable membrane between the left and right sides. This means the same goat can have an experimental side and a control side.

You always wanted to know that, and you probably also always wanted to know that these goats were invariably named Mable. That’s how science works.

What I liked most about having a dad who was a scientist was the words he’d bring home. My fave is the compound that gives skunk scent its particular pungency:


That is a word with some swagger to it. If you just want the fun size, mercaptan will do (accent on the second syllable). The mercaptan compounds are so powerful as scenting agents, we use them in natural gas, where some of us can detect them at the level of parts per billion.

Next time Pepe le Pew is in the neighborhood, impress your date by wrinkling your nose and saying, “I never did favor that tri-ethyl-methyl-butyl-mercaptan.”

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