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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: Lake monster ‘Inny’ denies eating boaters amid concerns about ingesting sunscreen

 (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
(Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)

Another summer has pretty much come and gone without any reliable reports of an Inland Northwest lake monster threatening lives and property.

So I suspect you will be all the more amazed to learn that I secured a brief interview with Inny, our local aquatic leviathan. You won’t believe what she had to say.

Q: Why are you so secretive?

A: I’m afraid some genius is going to decide that I’m homeless and then I’ll wind up getting dragged into the Spokane mayoral race.

Q: But wouldn’t you like to see your picture in the newspaper or be on TV?

A: Uh, no.

Q: Do you ever get the urge to devour boaters?

A: Not really. I think some of that goo they slather themselves with is toxic. I have, however, thought about taking out a few of those teens riding noisy personal watercraft.

Q: Why haven’t you?

A: Liability issues.

Q: How old are you?

A: Don’t ask. Let’s just say the first of my kind in these parts were brought here by the Missoula Floods.

Q: Have you ever been to Spokane?

A: No. But one summer, a little kid alone on a dock invited me to come to school in September for show and tell.

Q: Aren’t children afraid of you?

A: Of course not. I’m big but I’m polite. Kids get me.

Q: What sort of stuff do people accidentally drop in the lake over the course of a summer?

A: Uh, let’s see. Phones, phones and, oh yes, phones.

Q: Ever thought of doing a podcast?

A: Yes, actually. I was going to call it “Inland Journal.” Then I heard KPBX was already using that name.

Q: Do you ever hear those telltale “Jaws” notes in your head when moving through the water?

A: No, but I do sometimes hear Debussy.

Q: What do you think is Spokane’s biggest problem?

A: Well, I don’t know if it’s the biggest. But the alarming percentage of residents who don’t know what it means to be a city has to be among them. Hint: It’s not the same as a gated community.

Q: What about Spokane Valley?

A: Listen, those voters know exactly what they’re doing and they will do it again.

Q: What do you like to eat?

A: Sashimi.

Q: Have you ever bumped into a boat at night?

A: Yes, but the people aboard always assume it’s one of the Navy’s experimental subs.

Q: Thanks for your time.

A: Don’t mention it.

The handoff

My wife and I have some friends with a daughter and young grandchildren in the Seattle area. Often, when those kids are coming to Spokane for a visit, their parents drive them to Ellensburg and our friends go over and pick them up there. The children get out of one vehicle and clamber into the other for the rest of the trip east.

They do the reverse when headed home.

I suspect this meet-you-in-the-middle routine is not unusual for geographically divided families in our state. In fact, I’ve heard of this several times before.

But here’s the thing. It seems like the grandparents in this scenario are always in Spokane and the grandchildren are always in Seattle. Never the other way around.

Maybe it just appears that way to me because I know a lot of grandparents.

Or could it be that Spokane really is the Grandparentsville of Washington?

OK, I suspect those who are interested in viewing Spokane as having a somewhat hipper image might regard that characterization as undesirable. Moreover, it’s true that the Lilac City is not just populated by doddering couples trying to remember what night to roll out the garbage.

This city is home to plenty of the young and restless. So who wants to live in Grandparentsville?

I guess it partly comes down to what you picture when you think of grandparents. If the word conjures images of angry grumblers shaking a fist at modern life, that’s one thing. But if you’re more apt to first think of people who dearly love their grandchildren and want to spend time with them, that’s another.

And if those grandchildren happen to live in Seattle, well, maybe there will be lots to talk about on the drive back to Spokane from Ellensburg.

Higher ed

A fellow baby boomer named Bob, who used to work with my wife but now lives in Portland, has one of my all-time favorite back-to-school stories. Maybe I like it because it involves newspapers. Well, sort of.

Long, long ago, Bob was just getting settled in at his college dorm when another student approached and asked if he had any papers.

Bob said no, he hadn’t decided if he was going to subscribe to a daily while at school or rely instead on checking out print journalism when he was at home.

The guy gave him a look. It was an expression that spoke of a failure to communicate.

Not that kind of papers, he said. The kind you use to roll a joint.


Bob had been at college for only a matter of hours, and already he was learning.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at

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