I offer now my own Dave Barry style contribution to Murphy’s Law; nothing scatological need be implied by the title.

I don’t know what cosmic law of attraction is involved, but as a mostly private person, I’ve found that the best way to abort a lonely fugue right at the onset is a quick trip to a bathroom, wherever I live, whoever I live with, and whatever I’m doing. If I’m home alone, this trip inevitably triggers my dogs’ collective Spidey Sense; they might forget all about me for a couple of hours if I’m sitting and working, but if I close a door, they leap to attention – “Something’s not right! A door has been closed somewhere!” Instant dog attention. Whining, door scratching, the sound of a multiple dog noses at the door jamb.

If my wife is home and involved with her own affairs elsewhere in the house, nothing will trigger her instinct to count how many Q Tips we have left or catching up on that “moving hairbrushes from one bathroom to another” project quicker than entering a bathroom on the other side of the house. (“Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t know you were in there.”) If my daughter is home, too, all I have to do is close the door, and even though she might be sound asleep or deeply engaged in a puzzle or movie 600 feet away, suddenly she’s on the other side shaking the handle and yelling, “Daddy! The door’s locked! I’m trying to get in and I can’t! Daddy? Can you hear me?” Maybe she has an innate sense of enticing warm water flowing into a bath tub, but her timing is uncanny. To be fair, she does it with my office, too. I’ve had (a thankfully small number of) stressful conference calls as the predictable result. “So blah blah the deliverables blah blah dependencies blah blah very important timelines” “DADDDDDYYYYYY!!! THE DOOR IS LOCKED!!!!!!!! CAN YOU HEAR MEEE!!!????????” If I’m lucky, another adult stops the yelling, which she really doesn’t do except when I’m on the phone. If I’m very lucky, she doesn’t have a friend helping her.

And if I’m home totally, absolutely alone – not even the dogs are there for some reason – then it’s a pretty sure way to trigger that phone call I’ve been waiting for; it’s fair to say that the more involved the visit to the bathroom, the more important the call will be – maybe “telemarketers + toothbrushing,” versus, say, “boss + bath.” (I don’t technically have a boss, but I couldn’t think of any bathroom activities that start the same as “client.” And that’s not a challenge to anyone.) Directly proportional rather than inversely.

It doesn’t actually matter what triggers the visit to the bathroom, and now that I think about it, it doesn’t actually matter if I close the door. I might be brushing my teeth, shaving, or even just stepping in for a moment to look for a book or the damned cordless phone. Doesn’t matter. The 23.5 hours a day I’m not in one of those rooms, nobody else is either most of the time. Powerful cosmic, karmic forces are put into play those other few minutes, because 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, decades at a time, it never fails. Spiritual laws state that “like attracts like,” but there’s something about “seeking a moment of privacy” that inverts and then magnifies my efforts. Inversely proportional rather than directly proportional. Maybe there are exceptions to spiritual rules, like English has with spelling rules. (“I before E except for something something.” In this case, “Like attracts like, UNLESS THAT ONE GUY WANTS A SINGLE MOMENT OF PRIVACY!!!!! EVER!!!!!! HAHAHHHAHAHAHHAHAHA!” Something along those lines.)

At least it’s nice to uncover some kind of natural law that works most of the time.