Book Club
Hillyard Yacht Club

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                                                                                                        Stay Out Of The Bathroom

                                                                                                                         By Darin Z. Krogh

                                                                                                My wife and I have enjoyed years of                   
                                                                                                connubial bliss. The secret to our marriage, I 
                                                                                                believe, is that we are fortunate enough to have
                                                                                                our own bathrooms. I am an aged man of medium crankiness and intolerance. My wife is younger and very tolerant except of me. I am not allowed to use her bathroom. Never entering her bathroom is the secret to our marriage. Elderly men need to have their own bathroom. 
  Bathrooms are important in family dynamics. I grew up not far from downtown Hillyard, back in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. That was in the previous century for you younger readers. My family lived in a house with six kids and two parents and ONE BATHROOM. As I look back on those days, I am struck with horror. How did we do it? In the morning, we all competed for the shower/tub before going to school and our father before he went to work. Other activities, specifically involving the toilet were also completed. Sitting and reading a magazine during these unspecified activities was out of the question. My mother acted as the monitor for bathroom shifts among all of us, but not always assigning equal time to the various occupants. We boys got the briefest allotment, my sister was allowed substantially more time and our father could have finished reading a slightly abridged version of Tolstoy’s “War And Peace” during his toilet time. But after a while, no matter who was in the bathroom, our Mother would shout through the door “get your ‘business’ done and get out!”
  I made up my mind that one day, I would own a house with an extra bathroom where I could sit and read all day without hearing someone shout through the door. When we complained about having only one bathroom, our father took a moment(s) to deliver his speech on how he grew up in the back woods of northern Minnesota where the family bathroom was some 30 feet from the house, often requiring a trudge through deep snow. None of us kids ever made a comment after he finished his speech because that would give birth to other hardship stories that he ached to recite, stories about bathing in a metal tub in the kitchen and such. Usually he ended his life lesson by describing the visit to his cousins in the Big City, Minneapolis, where he was shocked to discover that these people did their “business” inside the house, in a room they called the bathroom. He was troubled by the misnomer, although a bumpkin, he knew the toilet was not for bathing.
  A neighborhood friend of mine in youthful days, Chuck Siver (obviously not his real name), lived closer to downtown Hillyard than me. One night, I stayed over at his house. In the morning, I used his family’s single bathroom which was much like our own at home, except that Chuck’s bathroom didn’t have a sink. I courteously, did not mention the missing sink until some years later. “Chuck, what was the deal with no sink in the bathroom at your house?” Chuck responded, “I never noticed until you mentioned it.” Later, he asked his parents about it. He reported “My father suggested that I move out, into someone’s home that had a bathroom sink. End of conversation.” 
  Later on in life, I was raising my daughters in a house with plenty of bathrooms, most of them with two sinks. Chuck Siver would have been flummoxed, which I was, especially when I entered my daughters’ bathroom. One day, I needed some Q-tips to clean the grooves around the oven door in the kitchen. So entered into my daughter’s bathroom where I presumed there were cases of Q-tips that I had often seen their mother bring home from the store. The girls’ bathroom reminded me of stumbling into a college biology lab years ago. There were devices and apparatus that were unfamiliar to me. Things suspended from hooks and bars. And several foreign chemical smells in the air. But not one Q-tip. Apparently, my daughters were selling the Q-tips at high school for spending money. And both sinks in their bathroom were full of junk, bottles of stuff, curling irons, etc. Unusable sinks. It made me think of Chuck and his missing bathroom sink. 
  All this is a digression from my original point. Men: As you enter your golden years, make sure that your lodgings include HIS and HERS bathrooms, separate and distinct. After decades spent with you, the Woman in your life may find that you grate her wrong in some little ways. Get two bathrooms, rather than end up as subject material for those real crime shows on T.V., like “Investigation Discovery Murder: Wives Who Couldn’t Take Him Anymore”. And enjoy the added benefit, you will have a quiet place to sit and leisurely thumb through a full length version of “War And Peace” taking time to ponder the illustrations and read all the footnotes.  

                                                            Spokane's Careless Invitations
                                                                                                         By Darin Z. Krogh

 Every day our planet beams out radio waves into outer space. It seems that more and more planets are being discovered in distant solar systems and scientists are trying to inform any space aliens of our location in the cosmos. Huge broadcasting devices are being built, not here in Spokane, but everywhere else the world. 
  Steven Hawking, the theoretical physicist made famous by the television show THE BIG BANG THEORY, recommended that scientists seeking contact with these alien beings should be very cautious. Hawking pointed out that historically, the first meetings between groups of humans have not always gone well. The “first-contact” meetings between White Europeans and Native Americans were often events that were better left unattended.

  I was horrified to discover that electromagnetic waves have been streaming away from Earth for years. Old TV broadcasts, transmissions bounced off satellites and even mobile phone conversations have been leaking into outer space. Scientists assure us that these electronic waves are diluted as they travel further from earth. But, still, a planet with space aliens far advanced of our own earthly geeks, may be able to pick up these leaking signals.

  We’ve had our share of instructional Zombie movies. We know how to handle them. But Zombies are slow and stupid while those big brained outer-space creatures are probably intelligent. They are not going to be amused by "I LOVE LUCY" or moved to cry when Rachel and Ross kiss in the finale of "FRIENDS". And if they listen to the conversations of teenagers on cell phones, they will think we earthlings are mindless creatures, waiting for each other to hang up first. We look like easy pickin’s sitting out in the galaxy.

  But the Earth is a big planet. So the chances of belligerent aliens coming to Spokane are miniscule. But you might ask: Then how did all these newly arrived Californians find out about Spokane? It was probably something they saw in an electronic image on T.V or radio signals that inspired them to bee-line to the Lilac City. Who can resist electronically transmitted views of lakes, trees, and mountains with an overlay of the Spokane motto, "Near Nature, Near Perfect"? Add the Trader Joe's advertisements and televised Gonzaga basketball games. All that stuff probably leaked into outer space. It's only a matter of time until the extra-terrestrials follow the Californians to town.

  All this brings me to my recommendation: Create a new motto to broadcast far and wide, to California and outer space. We need a discouraging word to replace the current motto "Near Nature - Near Perfect." How about something like "SPOKANE - DOWN WIND FROM THE HANFORD NUCLEAR CLEAN UP SITE”? Run that motto along under photos of Hanford as it crumbles. Beam that into outer space. Include an overlay of Hazardous Materials Triangles and a photo of Spokane on a rainy day.

  Even space aliens must fear nuclear radiation? It will probably take something stronger to stop the Californians.

                                          Going to Dad's House For The Summer
                                                                       by Darin Z. Krogh

        Their summer migration begins in early June. They're not all flying the same direction but they are all going to end up at the same place: the residence of the non-custodial parent.
        The airlines call them "Unaccompanied Minors", U.M.‘s for short. Kids flying alone require extra paperwork, signature accountability, somewhat constant supervision and attention to their "special needs".
        If somebody's suitcase doesn't show up, you can give them a toothbrush and promise that their bag will be in on the next flight. They vent awhile then give up. But if one of these kids doesn't show up on a flight, you're facing a fiery-eyed parent with froth in the corners of the mouth. No reason is good enough, cancelled flights, late airplanes, etc. They know who you are and they're never going to forget what you did.
      Things were not that way today. The next flight was came in on time and with a little luck it would leave on time.
      When I opened the door of the airplane, a blast of warm moist air swooshed out followed by 148 passengers who were tired of being locked up in a 153 foot long metal tube with only three bathrooms and no open windows.
        The flight attendant in charge shot me a quick smile and pled, “We’ve gotta get to a flight leaving in 10 minutes. Would you be a dear?”  She handed me some paperwork then extended the handle of her wheeled bag and exited the airplane saying, "She's in 12A, thanks". She added, "I owe ya'," like we were dear friends.
        At the top of the paperwork was printed "TAMARA DUNBAR/10YRS/SEAT 12A - UNACCOMPANIED MINOR TO BE MET BY CARLTON DUNBAR."
        Now I'd have to find Carlton among the teeming thousands in the airport, then 
complete the paperwork before I could hand the kid off, which meant that this flight probably wouldn't leave on time. Even worse, it would put the squeeze on my lunch break which is a sacred time for me, during which I make spiritual repairs while savoring each course of the “The Employee's Special" served on divided plastic foam trays.
        I went to seat 12A.
        She was a skinny little blond in a flowered dress and on her lap, in ascending order, was a CD player, CD holder and patent leather purse. A dawdler for sure.
       "Tamara, can I carry something for you?"
        She didn't look at me but agreed to let me tote everything but her purse and added "Those things are kind of embarrassing."
        "I’ve carried worse," I comforted.
        Hoping to hasten the union of daughter to father, I asked, "What does Carlton Dunbar look like?"
        "He's got gray hair."
        "Your grandfather?"
        "No, my dad. He's had gray hair since he was at high school."
        "Yeah, I guess that happens."
        We trudged up the jetway to the boarding area. When we got to the podium, I asked her if she could spot the prematurely-gray Carlton Dunbar standing out in the crowd in front of us.
        She looked everywhere except at me.
         I grabbed the paging microphone and called out Carlton’s name.
         No response.
        Carlton Dunbar was ruining my day.
         I sat her down next to me on a chair and started collecting tickets from the boarding passengers.
         Her eyes seemed a bit wet but no tears.
         I hoped she would hold it together. I leaned down to her, "The highway to the airport is under construction," I lied, "He probably got stuck in traffic."
        A crying U.M. is the worst kind.
         When the flight was boarded, I shut the door sealing in another 148 members of the flying public. The airplane pulled away from the gate.
       "Let's get some lunch," I said and picked up Tamara's things and we walked in silence to the snack-bar. When stood in front of the menu on the wall, I announced “I’m buying, whaddya’ want.”
       “I’m not hungry.” She was probably lying. She had just stepped off a pretzel only flight. but I was grateful for her decline since that would preclude the common hallmark of unaccompanied minors, which is puking. 
     “How about a sandwich?"
       No answer.
       I didn't force it. I was grateful for her decline since that would preclude the common hallmark of unaccompanied minors, which is puking. 
      We sat down and only I ate.
       "There are a lot of lakes around here," I offered hoping to boost her spirits, "Are you staying all summer?"
        "He might not want me to stay at all. I haven't seen him for five years."
        Oh, Carlton, you are a really bad father.
            I stopped trying to cheer her up when it became plain that she was more mature than I had rea1ized. These children of divorce are able to see through fake talk better than most adults. I finished and we went to my next gate assignment.
       "You wanna' help me on this flight?"
       "No. I think I'd rather watch," she said sounding bored.
       These divorce kids often tend to be sarcastic and are always bored.
        A fellow agent came up and spoke in my ear, “The dad's at the ticket 
counter. I'll cover for you while you take her down."
       I breathed a little prayer of gratitude.
      "Tamara, your father is down at the ticket counter."
       I bent over to pick up her belongings but she grabbed them as if to indicate that I was no longer permitted to carry her things.
       In the two hours that we had been thrown together, this little aggravation still 
had not made eye contact with me. 
      No one was waiting at the ticket counter when we arrived.
       I inquired and was directed to the opposite wall.
     There he was, leaning against a pillar, a muscular man with silver hair, dressed in dirty work clothes and the tip of a toothpick extending from his lips.
     He was in the company of a woman who appeared to be anything but maternal. Loads of make-up and the kind of hair-do that is not for touching.
      We approached.
      "Carlton Dunbar?"
      He nodded.
     "I'll need to see your I.D. and get you to sign here." I handed him the release form.
      He took out his billfold after giving his daughter a quick glance unlike his lady friend who focused on Tamara as if she was a draining boil.
    Tamara looked around but not at anyone.
    I didn't want to belabor the point in front of his daughter but couldn't help saying, "We expected you at noon." He seemed to ignore my remark as he looked for the signature line on the paper. He signed the paperwork then tossed the sheet to me.
   "Yeah, well, I told her mother that I can't leave the job in the middle of a shift." 
   Then like a good father, he pointed at Tamara then to her suitcase. Tamara picked it up and followed her summer parents to the exit door.
    "Good-bye, Tamara," I called out after them.
     She didn't answer.
     She didn't look back.
     She probably didn't even hear me. 
     The excitement of summer vacation does that to kids.