Mood: accident prone
Topic: "Ensign Pulver"(5)
Bilbo asked Frodo if he recalled his dish-washing adventure with the gallant Howard and, instantly, Frodo broke into a smile. The events are true.
Several years ago the gallant Howard, recently widowed, came to the Shire to spend some recovery time with Frodo and Sam. Frodo and Sam were both working, and the gallant Howard could amuse himself with his friends Lovey (a border collie and surrogate Secretary of State), Gumbo (Sam's personal dog of mass destruction), Rocky (the feline Italian Stallion), and Peeper (cockatiel waitress). Sam's hours at work were irregular thus producing instances when Frodo would join this assemblage in performing strictly-dictated Sam-assigned duties. Frodo, it is well-chronicled, is skilled in word and sword, but the mechanical is that which he is more than willing to out-source. The gallant Howard, product of another generation, was used to long hours of work, none of which however involved "housework." Thus was the stage set for the reprise of that golden moment when life (again) imitated art.
Sam had left written instructions for Frodo and the gallant Howard to include "run the dishwasher" in their assignments that infamous Saturday morning. Sam also indicated a planned return to the Shire just after lunch. After several cups of coffee, a discussion of the prior night's football action, and the requirements of pet care, Frodo and the gallant Howard sort of looked at one another as they absorbed the content of Sam's instructions. Mutually, they opened the dishwasher, examined the dials and buttons, and performed as if, individually, they had any idea of what to do next. There has been some dispute since as to who exactly took hold of the "dishwashing liquid" and commenced to pour the contents into the little container inside the washer. No matter really, since neither protested that this course of action would prove to be unwise.
Things were going famously until the gallant Howard noted bubbles emerging from the top of the washing machine. The situation swiftly became critical, and was so noted by the other inhabitants of the Shire. Lovey, Gumbo, and Rocky high-tailed it for the great outdoors as the kitchen began to resemble a virtual bubbly wonderland. Peeper sought the comfort of her cage, and did her best to shut and lock the door behind her.
By now Frodo and the gallant Howard were in a near state of panic since the bubbles were waist high throughout the kitchen, and were threatening expansion into both the living and the dining areas of the Shire. Frodo, sans goggles, dived into the now open door of the washing machine, and managed to stop the machine. The bubbles, however, continued to multiply as if they were a backdrop for a performance by the late Don Ho.
The gallant Howard had the good sense to assemble mops and rags (giving Frodo reason to believe that he had experienced something like this at an earlier point in his life), and the two warriors commenced to wipe up and dance about the kitchen area as the clock moved relentlessly toward the noon hour.
With but moments to spare, the bubblemachine ran out of ammunition and the desperate defenders of the Shire were turning the kitchen area into a paragon of cleanliness. As Sam pulled into the driveway, Frodo and the gallant Howard returned all movables to their previous point of embarkation, and fell into their assigned positions of leisure as if nothing had at all occurred. Sam did not become suspicious, immediately, even though the other residents of the Shire inexplicably failed to return for traditional treats in the kitchen area.
Frodo thought they had gotten away with it. Then, the gallant Howard broke the code of the Mafia, and Sam swarmed into an exploratory examination of the entirety of the Shire. The animals came back inside, and Peeper (who, indeed, talked) sealed the facts for Sam. Frodo would take the blame.
That evening, still sulking, Frodo turned on the black-and-white, and happened upon the play, turned into a movie, entitled "Mister Roberts." It would be the first of many occasions when he was able to laugh about the happenings under his control as the de facto "Laundry and Morale Officer" of the S.S. Shire.
Ensign Pulver lost Doug Roberts not long thereafter, and all of the crew members have moved on to higher calling. The adventures, however, never end, and the Shire remains a refuge for the only partially controlled.