I seem to remember that when Elvis died, he was buried somewhere other than on the grounds of Graceland, but something happened and they moved his body. Did somebody try to steal his body? What is the story?
— Nameless, San Diego
We’ll have to answer this one out of earshot of Grandma Alice, who is still convinced that Elvis lives. She still keeps her stash of “proof” — plaster casts of the size 11 bootprints with embedded sequins that she found outside her bathroom window and several suspicious baconburger wrappers she picked up on the street outside of Graceland. Anyway, most people seem to have believed that Elvis was really dead because they showed up in busloads and boatloads at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis, where Elvis was originally buried with his mother. They overran the grounds and generally clogged up the works for everybody. So, the cemetery folks were pretty enthusiastic when the Presley estate petitioned the City of Memphis for special permission to move the Presleys to the grounds of Graceland. They did this for Elvis’s “protection” a few months after his burial, when police arrested three men sneaking around the cemetery, allegedly planning to haul Elvis out of the ground and hold his big body for $10 million in ransom. Police had been tipped to the brilliant plot and were waiting for them. In the end, the guys were only charged with trespassing. No report on whether they had brought with them a winch or crane or some other giant lifting device. Moving a dead Elvis and his coffin would probably have taken more than three big thinkers. And that’s the story.
Seinfeld aside, what’s the once-and-for-all truth about poppyseeds causing false positives for opium in drug tests? How can we buy poppyseeds in the grocery store and plant them in our gardens if they are full of drugs? Why wouldn’t the DEA ban poppies? They try to ban everything else. I just don’t see how eating a bagel could make you test positive for a drug that doesn’t even come from the seed of the poppy plant. And I can’t say I get much of a buzz from a poppyseed roll. Please clear this up for me.
— C.V., San Diego
Seinfeld aside, yes, the chemicals of poppyseeds are detectable in urine for about two days after eating them. But the whole bagel scare was pretty much solved a few years ago when the DEA changed the definition of “loaded.” Botanically, chemically, all poppies are created equal. The highest concentration of future opiates is in the milky sap, but the seeds contain the precursors too. Eat baked goods, drink poppy tea, whatever, and your body processes these chemicals and they end up in your urine. But poppyseeds are metabolized more slowly than, say, opium, and the telltale chemicals in urine are different from those caused by opiates and are there in much smaller quantities. So, yes, under the old testing procedures, the innocent bagel eater would have a trace of the sinister metabolites in his urine, and this used to be enough to get him fired or locked up or whatever he was being tested for. At some point, the astounding number of false-positive tests (85 percent, some say) led drug agencies and labs to look again at testing procedures and to raise the threshold at which a person can be suspected of opiate use. Specific tests for heroin use actually identify a different metabolite, which results from how rapidly the body processes heroin. It’s changed significantly by drug-test time. So, there should be no false-positive scares from bagels anymore, though at one time there were many.
I have a question that has been on my mind for some time. This year we have had all kinds of service people working at our home, from septic-tank workers to fumigators to construction workers. In each case they have worked on our property the entire day without leaving the premises, and they never once asked to use the bathroom. What gives? Do they have some sort of secret device in their trucks that they pee into, do they hold it all day, or are they peeing in our yard when we aren’t looking?
— Curious in Encinitas
Um, all of the above? We gave the elves spotting scopes and binoculars and sent them out across the county to spy on work crews. We also checked with a neighbor who has been in the home-service industry for many years. If you think about it, it’s probably good that the guys working on your septic system didn’t come in to use your facilities. In fact, for certain insurance liability reasons, they’re really not supposed to. So, what’s a workman to do? Plan ahead, mostly. Have an emergency container in the truck. A beer can will do. Go at lunchtime, when you go out to get a sandwich. Sweat a lot while you work so you don’t have to go much during the work day. Use a convenient bush, if all else fails. I’m sure there are other solutions, but these are the leads we came up with.