Warning: If there is a possibility that you may be an overnight guest in my house in the near future, it might be a good idea to skip this.
Okay, I tried. You’ve been warned. It’s not my fault if you’re still here.
At least it’s you, and not the intergalactic police force from the United Federation of Planets. Before they show up to arrest me and haul me off to some remote prison planet, I might as well confess and get it over with.
I have violated Star Trek’s Prime Directive. I have broken this crucial law which forbids interference with alien civilizations.
What I interfered with was alien, all right, though I’m not sure it could accurately be described as “civilization.” The word “culture” certainly fit, though. That’s culture as in “stuff growing in a Petri dish,” rather than culture as in “going to the opera.”
It all started with house guests. Not, let me hasten to add, that I have ever had house guests that could be described as “alien.” Well, there was that one guy. . . . He wasn’t a relative, though.
One of my most recent house guests happened to be at the sink in the downstairs bathroom while I was in the shower in the upstairs bathroom. When we met at the breakfast table a short time later, he told me he had been dripped on.
Yep, there was a leak, all right. The plumber came two days later, took apart the faucet in the upstairs shower, and discovered that it had been leaking inside the wall for a long time. The two-by-fours were spotted with yucky black stuff, and the whole thing smelled like the kind of basement you don’t want to go into even with the lights on.
After he fixed the leak, the plumber recommended bleach. Use a fan to dry out the wet area, he said, then apply generous amounts of one part chlorine bleach to three parts water and dry it out again.
The first time I did this, I thought the odd clumps of tannish stuff on the two-by-fours were bits of wood and sawdust left inside the wall by various plumbers and carpenters.
The second time I bleached it, I was wearing my reading glasses. Big mistake. It allowed me to see that those clumps were something living that had grown there. They were some sort of fungi or mutant mushroom. Alien life forms, for sure.
Did I call in a mycologist to identify them? Did I apply for a National Science Foundation grant to study them? Did I at least scrape some of them into a baggie for possible drying and smoking?
Nope. I doused the little critters with bleach. Not only did I interfere with that particular alien culture, I did my best to destroy it.
Maybe, by not eating or smoking them, I missed an opportunity for enlightenment. Never mind. Breathing the bleach fumes is hallucinogenic enough. If you were planning on visiting any time soon, I’d recommend waiting till the aura of chlorine has dissipated.
Besides, by the time I bleach the afflicted area, dry it out, and pay the plumber, I will have gained valuable insight and wisdom anyway. To wit: A little plumbing leak, ignored long enough, will grow into a bigger plumbing leak. That’s quite enough enlightenment for one week.