For Christmas my Sister in law (married to my brother,) got my daughter a hoverdisc.
“Maybe Daddy will take you to get if filled with helium on Friday,” she says.
It’s moments like these that I live for.
“Why should we wait till Friday?”
“Well, I think the stores are closed on Christmas.”
“Why would we need to go to the stores?”
“Well, it’s not like everybody has helium on hand, is it?”
I raise my eyebrows.
“You have helium?” she asks, incredulously.
This is just like my dreams. I lay awake at night fantasizing about people in dire need of some esoteric thing I keep stored in my garage. With practiced nonchalance, I respond.
“I don’t know about anybody else, but frankly I think it’s irresponsible not to keep a reserve supply of noble gases on hand pending need. You never know when you’re going to despertely need an inert lighter than air compound, and then where will you be.”
“You really have helium?”
“I have a whole cylinder in the garage.”
This is a question I’m not prepared for. Usually when I’m able to produce something useful and needed I don’t get questioned about it. I just receive gratitude and admiration… which is why I keep things like this on hand.
…But I can hardly tell her that the purpose of my helium supply is to impress people with the fact that I have a helium supply.
“Helium is a massively useful element with all kinds of utility,” I reply. “I keep it by my welding MAPP gases.”
“So you use helium in welding?” She asks. It figures my brother would marry a professor.
“Well, not exactly” I hedge. “You don’t use helium for welding. I just happen to keep it by my MAPP gas.”
“Because that’s where I keep my gas cylinders.”
“Do you keep other gas cylinders like Xenon on hand?”
At this point SIL clearly doesn’t realize my helium storage is a flaky enterprise at best. She is assuming there is a good reason to store this gas, and perhaps others and is seriously seeking my expertise in understanding the reasoning. I don’t wish to disavow her of her newfound admiration, though.
“Xenon?” I say in a deprecating fashion. “What would I want with Xenon?” As if everybody knows Xenon is useless.
“Well, what do you use the helium for?” She asks reasonably.
“Certain experiments, esoteric enterprises, and such.”
“Is that it?”
I’m not sure she’s impressed anymore.