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Column: Dancing with Ms. Morflo

(Here's an old one from back in the days when three teenage daughters allowed us to live here with them.)

In the process of recently making yet another attempt on the world-record shortest shower, I ran out of hot water.

I was expecting to. The Young Girls (three wolf-children sent as one of those blessing-in-disguise deals about which you hear so much about) say they never run out of hot water; that there was always hot water left when they finished.

Anyway, I jumped out of the cold shower, wrapped a towel around myself, and went out to lobby Ms. Morflo the Menopausal Water Heater.

"Listen," I said to her, shivering and dripping, "guys need hot water too." This of course in referral to the fact that she always gave The Tribe of Girls all the hot water they wanted.

My idea of lobbying her for this begins by picking up an old broken-off chair leg I keep nearby for this kind of political bargaining, and whacking her up alongside her thingamabob. Yes, yes.... I'm supposed to be a serviceman knowledgeable of little technical difficulties with water heaters. I am. But those are ordinary water heaters owned by normal people. Ms. Morflo and I, we're well into a metaphysical-cosmic relationship that even Nostradamus only hinted at.

Not only that, but Ms. Morflo, old school that she is, doesn't like her anatomical parts referred to by name, hence I must use terms such as "thingamabob."

I picked up the chair leg, decided upon an overlapping golf grip this time around, and drew it back for a big swing. Just as I did that, a burst of black vapor spurted out of Ms. Morflo's whatchamacallit. I put down the chair leg, kneeled down before her, and peered closely at this development. This was something new, something I hadn't seen...

Suddenly, just as I put my eye up close to her, ahem, nether parts, she spat a large burst of soot and flame into my face, searing off my right eyebrow and knocking me over backwards.

So it was going to be one of those deals, eh? I stood up, bowed to her (sounds silly, but it's traditional), and got another grip on the chair leg.

She spewed a pailful of blistering hot water directly onto my left foot. My, weren't we feeling cranky today. I grabbed my foot in both hands and began performing the dance of contrition, hopping about on my good foot while singing the song "Volare" at full voice (the water heater gods like fancy choreography and elevator music).

The pain was diminishing. I was croaking the chorus of the song, headed for a big finale, not paying the attention I should have to Ms. Morflo when suddenly, a loud knocking noise emanated from inside her. I should have known better, but I stopped dancing, and that was when she reached out with her overflow pipe and cracked me a good one in the crotch.

I immediately went into the stooped-over dance of the newly humbled male, all thoughts of revenge stricken from my mind, as I contemplated pure white pain. I recovered a bit and began blindly groping around for my chair leg. I was going to show that moody, menopausal, murderous, water heating harlot what was good for her.

I noticed about then that I had an audience. I had no idea how long they had been quietly standing there, watching this performance, but there they were. Three teen-aged girl wolf children in a row, just standing there, saying nothing. Just watching me.

They weren't nattering with one another, I noticed. That was scary. Way out of the ordinary. They weren't fixing their hair, or examining themselves in a mirror, or anything. Just standing there.

They look so innocent, don't they, these wolf children? I looked at myself, sooty, wet, hurt, towel slipping, eyebrow charred, hair awry. Me, zero; water heater, one.

The wolf children glided into a circle around Ms. Morflo, and joined hands. They nodded at one another. There was a momentary blinding white light, through the glare of which it seemed that the three of them levitated several inches off the basement floor. The light went out, and they began to depart.

"It's ok now, daddy," one of them said to me as they were leaving. "She knows you're with us."

And they were gone.

I finished my shower. There was lots of hot water.

Something good has come out of this: They said to me: "Since It was brave enough to battle the evil spirits that had taken over Ms. Morflo, It is now an honorary member of The Tribe of Girls. As such, It is to be allowed to check the engine oil in The Tribe's autos, change flat tires should they occur, and pay for the most expensive and modern Hairdos that It can buy. Does It have any questions?"


I have another name. It sounds something like: "Jumpemleapumsillybooboo."

It means: "Dances with Water Heaters."

I have to go. Something is a quart low.