Frederick M. Hueston, PhD

2020 is finally behind us, and hopefully this year will be the end to this pandemic. I don’t know about anyone else, but this mask look is unbecoming. Who would have thought you would be required to wear a mask to enter a bank? A year ago, you would have been arrested!

It was time for my morning cup of joe at my favorite greasy spoon. So, I got my old bones moving and headed out the door. When I entered the diner, Flo was wearing a mask with writing on it, so I had to ask her what it said. She told me it said, “It’s not a mask, it’s a cough-ee filter.”  We both laughed, and I ordered my usual. 

I noticed a young couple sitting at one of the tables and they were both wearing pink masks. I didn’t think that was too unusual, after all, these masks are becoming fashion accessories. As I’d find out later that day, what was odd, was those pink masks would turn out to be the same color as my next stone inspection. 

While I was musing about getting a mask to match my trench coat, my phone rang. I recognized the voice on the other end – he was an old friend of mine, an installer. He wished me a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and then told me he had an issue in a shower he had recently installed, and couldn’t figure it out. He said the only person who might be able to, was me. Well, I’m not immune to flattery. I have seen all kinds of issues and the odds were this was maybe a rare but not uncommon issue.

 He went on to explain that he had installed a marble shower in this fancy home, and a month or two after the install the customer complained about the grout and the stone turning pink. Well, my first thought was that some shampoo or hair dye or whatever they were using in the shower was causing the discoloration. He assured me that none of the products they used were red or pink, he’d checked into that already. I told him that certain products can turn pink after sitting on the stone awhile. He assured me this wasn’t the case, and asked me to come take a look. Luckily, it was only an hour away, and I told him I would be there after I finished my breakfast. I finished my coffee, said goodbye to Flo and the regulars, hopped in the ole Woody and off I went.

I arrived at the house, and I kid you not – it was pink. Coral Pink. It was a big mansion, and why someone would want to paint it pink was beyond me, until I saw the pink Cadillac in the driveway, and I knew right away the owner must of have been involved with that cosmetic company that gives its people pink Cadillacs, or they were Aretha Franklin fans. You know – Freeway of Love /  Pink Cadillac? Never mind.

 Anyway, my fabricator friend pulled up behind me as I was getting out of the Woody. I went to shake his hand and he pulled away, raised his elbow at me, and shouted “COVID-19 shake!” I should have remembered this greeting was going to be the new norm. Anyway, he told me that the lady is a bit crazy, and she was likely going to give me a hard time. I told him I was used to that, and I would just smile at whatever she said. He reminded me that it wouldn’t matter, she couldn’t see me smiling though my mask.  “OK,” I said, “Then I’ll just stick my tongue out at her.” (LOL!) 

We approached the door and she greeted us wearing a pink dress, pink-rimmed cat’s-eye glasses, and pink slippers. This lady really had a pink fetish, and I was half tempted to ask her about it, but didn’t want to go there.  

She led us to the shower, and I knew right away what the issue was. I told her and my friend that this was caused by the soap and shampoo. They just booth looked at me and said that the soap and shampoo contain no dyes, so how could that be possible?

OK folks – are  you ready for this? I told them that the pink stain is the result of a bacteria that feeds on the soap scum and fatty deposits. It’s an airborne bacterium, and is generally harmless. For you science nerds out there, and for those who want to look it up, it’s called Stachybotrys Chartarum. 

The good news is it can be cleaned with standard cleaners. In worse case conditions, bleach or peroxide can be used.  Another case solved. I wonder if she listens to Pink’s songs, too – LOL!

The Stone Detective is a fictional character created by Dr. Frederick M. Hueston, PhD, written to entertain and educate. Dr. Fred has written over 33 books on stone and tile installations, fabrication and restoration and also serves as an expert for many legal cases across the world. Fred has also been writing for the
Slippery Rock Gazette for over 20 years. 

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