THE SKINNY: Senior’s a sick straw sleuth

Sonja Hansen
Exhibit One: The straws found on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

First I consider myself an amateur sleuth. In fifth grade I flew through the first 60 novels of the Nancy Drew mystery series, devoured “The Nancy Drew Sleuth Book” and even got my hair bobbed to match the girl detective.

But despite my impressive credentials, I have been floored by my latest case and must call for reinforcements.

Scene of the crime: the bathroom I share with my sisters

Time: Wednesday, Feb. 7, about 6 p.m.

After some incessant whining from friends over the bottom of my toilet being black, I decided to take matters into my own hands and bleach the heck out of it.

“Legally speaking, I’m going to be an adult in a couple of days,” I thought to myself. “And this is what adults do on weeknights – trip out on the fumes from cleaning supplies and crank the jazz.”

I’ll spare you the details of my frenzied battle because I’m a lady, but it followed a simple method: let the bleach soak for a while and then inflict a melee of furious scrubbing. My process did very little to the black spot, but I didn’t care. As a second-semester senior with little to do and a powerful drive, I was willing to put my energy into anything.

While waiting for the bleach to do its thing, I decided to investigate my shower drainage situation.

My sisters and I have a complicated past with this shower. It worked really well when I was 9, and then for several years, it blasted only cold water. We called a plumber a couple times but eventually found it easier to just use my parents’ shower.

I didn’t give in so easily, so every year or so I’d check to see if the shower still refused to work.

In January I discovered that, miraculously, we had hot water again; however, water pooled at the bottom of the shower.

Over the course of a couple hours, I poured about three-fourths of a gallon of Drano and flushed it with hot water from the shower.

Sonja Hansen
Exhibit Two: The drains out of which the straws came.

During one of the mindless flushing periods, I nonchalantly watched as a white-and-green striped stick floated up and out of one of the drains. I turned off the water.

It was a straw; the kind of straw you see at summer picnics; the kind of straw you see hanging off the side of a coconut filled with a tropical drink and accompanied by a cheerful parasol; the kind of straw you get at any restaurant.

You have no idea how menacing an unexpected straw can be in the middle of the night.

It was bent at an angle like a submarine periscope. The water made it swivel slightly, as though it was taking a surreptitious peek around the room.

I’m familiar enough about “It” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to know that grown people slithering around in pipes is very likely these days, so my first instinct was to pinch the straw to cut off the air from whoever was down there.

After pulling out the straw and being met with no resistance or gargling, I marched around the house demanding an explanation. I got none.

The next day I recounted my run-in with the straw that had been brought to life by Drano to my friends. They awkwardly laughed, pretended to understand the gravity of what I had seen and changed the subject.

Scene of crime: the same bathroom

Time: Wednesday, Feb. 14,  about 7:30 p.m.

I had used the shower without any incidences and long since put the encounter with the straw out of my mind.

However, on that day, like so many of Country Day’s finest, I had fallen ill.

After spending the day cooped up at home, I was determined to be back at school the next day, so I took a shower to open my sinuses.

I was lathering up my shampoo when some of it flowed into my eye. In excruciating pain, I ran into the shower walls like a wound-up racehorse banging against a starting gate.

Then in the midst of my hysteria, I felt something brush up against my foot. My first thought was that the lining around the drain had been stripped off.

You already know where this is going. There was a straw, right?

No. There were three straws.

Half-blinded by mango-scented shampoo, half-crazed by a raging fever and now faced with the blurry image of three straws rising from the ground like zombies, I jumped out of the shower, wrapped myself in a towel and sat on the ground in shock.

When the impact of the trauma had eased, I came out of my daze to discover that I was white knuckling the straws.

But I have no memory of plucking them from the drain in the first place.

Sonja Hansen
Exhibit Three: The Drano used before the first straw made its appearance.

So let’s consider the facts:

  • In total, four straws have made themselves known to me.
  • Both straw invasions occurred on Wednesday nights.
  • My sisters don’t use the shower, meaning only I have regularly been in there these past six weeks. On the other hand, both Bianca and Morgan frequently use the bathroom, giving them the opportunity to snake some straws down the drain. Both also have access to straws.
  • But what motive could compel them to go through with such a plan? And how could they perfectly align the straws to rise out of the drain? And finally how could they have such mastery of the art of horror, physics and dramatic spectacle to manufacture such events?

I’m at a loss to explain.

Update: On March 3, Hansen found two more straws and two plastic sticks that floated up out of the shower’s drain.

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