family, Humor, writing

The Case of the Pink Stain

Early one morning, the scene of the crime was discovered by the woman of the house, who was alarmed by the color and persistence of the evidence. What follows is an accurate recreation of the investigation, interrogation, and ultimate outcome of the case.

As I was cleaning the house, I came across something mysterious on the kitchen counter.
“What is this?” I asked the First Reader, who happened to be in the kitchen with me.

He looked at it. “Looks like pepto bismol to me.”

It did have that virulent pink color to it, but… “I don’t think so. It’s not… gummy enough. The stain looks like something soaked into the counter, and pepto is too thick.”

He took a sip of his coffee. “Probably ask the boy-child.”

Indeed. The Ginja Ninja is responsible for her share of messes, but the boy is the more likely culprit when investigating a mystery of this, ah, hue. I asked.

He got a sheepish look on his face, and a half-grin crept into sight. “Well, you see, I was trying to see if I could make a thing, and it would explode, and color the whole house pink.”


“Yeah, I put vinegar, and baking soda, and some of your food coloring into a bottle and shook it up. But it only bubbled a little. So I did it again with more baking soda.”

I realize the pink is my gel food dye. “Why would you do that in the kitchen?”

“It was really late!” His voice goes up to a squeak.

The First Reader chimes in. “What were you doing up so late, then?”

The Boy, knowing he frequently gets in trouble for breaking bedtime, backtracks hastily. “It was, like, eight o’clock.”

“Then why didn’t you do this outside?” The First Reader is still calmly sipping coffee and sounding very reasonable.

“It was dark!” The boy protests, gesturing toward the window. “I couldn’t see anything!”

I intervene again, having scoured the spot off the counter with the magic eraser sponge. “Then do what a real scientist does. Get a notebook,” I pointed toward the shelf of spare school supplies, “and write it down. Then when it’s light outside, you can test your hypothesis. But not in my kitchen!”

“But I’m not that patient! I had to know now… I mean, then!”

I looked at the First Reader, and he picked up his lunchbag before beating a hasty retreat for the front door, and ultimately, work. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t need to. We both knew what I was thinking. Mad Science starts at home.

The conversation related is true, and the participants are real people. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. The scene of the crime was restored to it’s original cream color, and the perpetrator was given a notebook with strict instructions to carry out further experiments outside, and to write them down properly with measurements for reproducibility.

26 thoughts on “The Case of the Pink Stain

  1. Sounds like the name of a Pink Panther short. Now I wonder… how did “Ginja Ninja” acquire that particular label?

    1. I love Pink Panther shorts. Um. Films, not… nevermind.

      She asked for it. Her first suggestion was “Space Whale” and I told her I wasn’t calling her a whale! The Ginja part refers to her hair color.

  2. I’d have been MISERABLE growing up in your house. You’re way too methodical and orderly for the child I was. Notebooks? Srsly?

    1. Heh. Methodical and orderly. Hah! Obviously you’ve never seen my house, or one of my (not infrequent) posts about the state of my desk. Actually, I was trying to encourage him to experiment OUTSIDE and preferably not somewhere he’d poison the dog. 😛 The notebook is a good idea, though. He may or may not keep it up, I’m not going to grade it *unless he asks.

      1. Grading “lab notebooks?” QED. Perish the thought. Ida been packing my bindlestiff about the time I learned to walk. (remind me to tell you about the time my brothers and I set the nearest PARK on fire.)

        1. I could tell you about the time Cedar and her next sister (my middle daughter) started a fire in the wildlife refuge that we lived next to….

          1. I don’t remember starting a fire. I remember outrunning a fire, but that was the grassfields being burnt, an annual occurrence. I do remember you yelling at me for dissecting a worm while sitting on the couch, and after that any dissection had to be done OUTSIDE! LOL

          2. Seems out of character, not that I don’t believe you. Where is Cedar in birth order? Never thought about it before..

  3. Well, this completely blows away the idea of “if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.”
    I don’t know HOW the pink stain managed to manifest without documentation, but it was obviously an aberrant outcome.
    Now that you have put the notebook in The Boy’s hands, you might as well rip out all carpeting, rugs, wallpaper, and the delicate lace doilies on the arms of your chaise lounges, davenports, recliners, and the settee in the drawing room.
    Because his next experiments will be written down, and they WILL happen.

  4. Home science.
    My father used a bottle of suntan lotion to demonstrate using centrifugal force to move the lotion to the top of the bottle.
    The demonstration of course was to hold the bottle and swing it in large circles.
    However his failure to check that the spout was closed added some unintended hilarity, and a clean up.
    I also remember that when I asked him what a dust explosion was, his answer was to build a quick dust explosion simulator using a coffee can, a teaspoon of flour, a candle and a small length of rubber tubing, and recreate a grain silo explosion in the kitchen.

    I realize how much like my father I am.

    1. My father and a couple of his mathematician friends once tested a theory that if you held an egg in a certain way you would be unable to squeeze the egg hard enough to break it. My mother never did get all the egg spatter out of the kitchen.

      Pure mathematics is NOT an experimental science, as she mentioned for years after that experiment.

  5. Reminds me of my kitchen chemistry days as a kid, I was trying to develop a reliable recipe for Casein plastic. Turned out I needed stronger vinegar. I wonder where those notes are now…

      1. Queue the comment, “I hope you have children JUST LIKE YOU!” LOL! (It worked, didn’t it?!?)

    1. I got lucky, he made about a palm-sized stain on the counter. If he’d done the whole room he’d still be learning about the qualities of friction through application of moist melamine sponge.

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