It’s October, and chill winds send clouds scudding across the new moon. Halloween’s on the way. I sent my editor the subject of this month’s column. “The connection between plumbing catastrophes and aliens from outer space,” I wrote. “Well, OK,” he emailed back, “I don’t think anyone else has tackled this subject.” Someone has to be first. Modestly, I step into the breach.
I wasn’t too upset when I woke up last Friday morning to find that my bathroom was out of order. Plugged up solid, might be a better description. A lifetime of clearing horrible bathroom disasters while raising six children prepared me to manage this easily, I thought, and after all, I have another bathroom.
This time, none of the tried and true methods worked, not even pouring in hot water or fishing about with a bent coat hanger while shouting Italian curses.
As I stood there puzzled, a terrible thing happened. From the other bathroom, I heard a cough-like sound—loud and persistent. I ran (oh, let’s be honest, I haven’t run anywhere in years) and got there as fast as I could. Suddenly murky water rose alarmingly, flowed over the edge of the toilet and puddled around my size 9’s. Now I had two bathrooms that didn’t work. There was no immediate reason to worry. I am in good health and can often go as long as twenty minutes without needing the bathroom.
Smelling faintly of Lysol, I turned on my cell phone and tapped on my Sit Or Squat app. This useful guide uses GPS to give the location of all the public bathrooms in the immediate area, rating the cleanliness of the facilities with red and green toilet paper rolls instead of stars.
The Chevron Jack In The Box three blocks from my house rates two green TP rolls. Most convenient. Neighborhood Starbucks rates only a “Squat” though. Disappointing.
Despondent, I slouched on my La-Z-Boy to watch a visitors-from-outer-space program on the History Channel. Suddenly, I realized that I might have overlooked an explanation. Why hadn’t I seen it before? Could it possibly be a mere coincidence that this unexplained and unprecedented bathroom catastrophe happened at the very same time the U.S. Navy was reporting unprecedented numbers of unidentified aerial phenomena—perhaps from outer space? Just think, if creatures from another world wanted to distract us, what better way than immobilizing our plumbing? Coincidence? I think not!
USA Today reports that Washington state currently tops the list of states reporting Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon. Never mind Area 51 in New Mexico, some of the very first sightings come from a lot closer to home.
Of course, these sightings go back to the beginning of time—Pliny the Elder and Ezekiel saw UFO’s, but you can see why plumbing didn’t come into their reports.
One of the first modern Washington sightings was above Maury Island in 1947. UFO’s were often seen over Mt. Rainier. In those days I volunteered for the Air Force at Fairchild AFB, and “flying saucer” spottings were an everyday occurrence. Stationed at White Sands Missile Range at the beginning of the space age, we got used to daily reports of flying objects hovering above the Organ Mountain and stopping cars on the way to the base by seemingly draining their batteries. Before you dismiss the idea, if cars could be disabled, why not bathrooms? These reports seem to rise in uncertain times, and when have we ever had more uncertain times than now?
A $32 bathroom augur and a promise to call a plumber if this disaster was repeated took care of my plumbing problem. Whether it was space creatures, or something closer to home, Earthlings have won. For now.
Still, you can’t be too careful. Halloween is almost here. Little costumed people will be at our doors clamoring for treats. Some of them may even be dressed as space creatures. A full head Alien Area 51 mask is available for only $39.95 . “The mask looks really realistic” raves one buyer, “though your head will sweat when you use it.” Just to be safe, before you give a treat, be sure to check for sweat, and I sure wouldn’t let them use the bathroom.
Dorothy Wilhelm’s October events
Oct. 12-13: Oldfield Art Show, Oldfield Western Heritage Center, Puyallup. With Gina Wilhelm and her Happy Valley Puppets, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Oct. 12; 11 a.m. on Oct. 13. Dorothy signs books and tells Puget Sound stories, 1 p.m on Oct. 12; noon on Oct. 13.
Oct. 17: Job Carr Cabin Museum “Eureka Breakfast” Living Tacoma History, Cheney Stadium Summit Club. Dorothy shares Puget Sound stories, 7:30 a.m.
Oct. 19: Stories of Puget Sound and book signing, Barnes & Noble, Lakewood, 1 p.m.