A love potion

A story based on l'elisir d'amore

Ever since creating explosions in the chemistry lab, of his secondary school, Jeremy had dreamt of becoming a world famous scientist, like Pasteur or Florey, and to fulfil that dream he worked hard at university where he graduated with first class honours. He then produced a highly commended PHD thesis on the effect of nano particles on the brain’s erogenous zones, a study which did not make him a world famous scientist straight off, but did land him a good job in the research laboratory of a large prestigious drug company.
Here he became an almost instant success when he developed a cure for ingrown toe nails. This cure was well received at the highest levels of the company as the managing director had suffered from this affliction for many years. The endeavour had been all the more telling as it had been achieved entirely with human volunteer control groups and without the use of any laboratory animals.
Thus with a decent bonus from his employers Jeremy turned his mind to a new project and at home one night listening to the lovely arias from Donizetti’s ‘L’Elisir d’Amore’ he thought he had found it. He would design a potion that would bring love, goodwill, and understanding to the world. No more wars, no more greed, no more oppression. A bit like John Lennon’s vision but without Yoko Ono.
With his fellow researchers he set out how it was to be achieved; they decided that, rather than a potion you would have to trick the object of your desire into swallowing, it would be a tablet that you would take yourself and then convey your love to the object of your attention by physical contact. The potion once taken would act as an aphrodisiac but also render a person infertile therefore solving the world’s population problem at the same time.
And so they set out to develop the drug.
The design took a bit longer than anticipated mainly because of the team’s self imposed limitations. No powdered rhino horn, no material from any of the world’s endangered species, no laboratory animals, and no drugs of dependence.
While the potion was under development a large volunteer group was set up with people of all ages and from all walks of life. There was no shortness of volunteers at any time because as soon as someone dropped out, 10 people sought to take his or her place.
As one would expect with such a huge project there were  a few teething problems; early side effect were that some people developed an allergy which made them become irritable with the object of their love, thereby diminishing the effect of the potion, and then there were problems with the physical contact bit. Volunteers did not seem to realise that although the transfer was easily done with a firm handshake, only the first one worked as an expression of love and any following handshakes were just what they were a greeting. The Australian Prime Minister who had been an enthusiastic volunteer became a victim of this limitation twice. Once while standing in the long conga line of those waiting to meet the visiting future king of England, intending to shake the hand of the Duchess of Cambridge he started with a very firm public touch of Prince William thereby gaining the prince’s undying love. This in itself may not have been much of an error, but he did commit a more serious mistake when trying to gain the love of a well known fabulously wealthy female Western Australian mining magnate he inadvertently shook hands with a short stocky Queensland miner thereby entering into a loving relationship that was destined to last for the rest of their lives
There were other errors committed by the test subjects but none serious enough, the team concluded, that could not rectified once everyone loved everyone else.
With a great fanfare the company launched the product.
It came with a beautifully designed television campaign showing loving heterosexual couples in sometimes the most embarrassing situations always accompanied by the haunting strains of the Donizetti aria “Una furtive lagrima” Leaders of the business world were interviewed on current affairs programs telling the world how total love would be good for business, arms dealers were exhorted to diversify, and church leaders of all persuasions were exalted by the prospect of  brotherly and sisterly love forever.
However a problem remained; the drug was expensive; it was not in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme; only the rich could afford to buy it, and as the rich, and the rich and famous already loved themselves and each other anyway, there was no reason for them to buy the potion.
Sadly in the end due to the heavy losses that occurred the company was forced to withdraw the potion and so the world stayed as it had been before Jeremy’s invention, just as it did after the John Lennon song and Yoko Ono’s antics.
There was a winner in the end though, and that was Jeremy himself; he had kept all of his samples, took the potion whenever he could, and shook hands with every man and woman that came his way.
It did not make him into the world’s greatest scientist but it but it sure made him the world’s most popular one.