Bear in mind that he had to have known he was dying of AIDS from a faulty blood transfusion while some of these essays were written....
Beginning anecdote from "The Salt Producers:, June 1990
When I was young, in the far-off distant days before antibiotics, we had a home remedy for any cut, scrape, or abrasion. In order to prevent infection, we smeared the spot with tincture of iodine-that is, a solution of iodine in alcohol.
It was ground into me that iodine wa the universal anti-infection treatment. It stung on application (ouch, ouch)but that was good for I always felt , as a child, that the stinging was a sign that all the germs were being killed.
But time has passed and home remedies have changed. My dear wife Janet is, of course, an MD, and so she is up on all the latest anti-infection stuff. Her greatest happiness in life is doctoring me for any minor problem I may have. (It's not my greatest happiness, but I love her dearly and am willing to endure the inconvenience if it will make her happy.) In any case, she plasters me with a variety of ointments and lotions and antibiotic creams.
However, in my medicine cabinet I insist on having a little bottle of tincture of iodine, and anytime I can hide a cut or scrape or abrasion from dear Janet's eagle eye, I smear it with iodine so that I can feel that healthy germ-killing sting.
And because I used it the other day for exactly that purpose (and was caught by Janet, who gave me Lecture 3A on the subject) I thought that, since I occasionally write an essay on one or another of the chemical elements, I ought to do one on iodine. Here goes--