I’m not sure this is a genuine case of high strangeness. It’s easy to dismiss—and, in fact, I dismissed it almost as soon as it happened. But it is strange.

When my mother was still alive, I had to get up early every Saturday morning to take her to dialysis. It was a chore to get up early on Saturday, but at least I got to sleep in until 6:45 instead of 5:15 as I did on weekday mornings for work. And it meant I had 3 hours of precious me time when I didn’t have to worry about caregiving. I loved my mother, didn’t begrudge the giving of care, but during the week the only time I got alone was driving to and from work (and, I’m sorry, but that doesn’t really count as me time).

On this particular Saturday, I had just left my mother off at dialysis and was feeling good anticipating the free time. The quickest way between our house in Westchester (a suburb of L.A. near LAX) and Inglewood where her clinic was located, was the 105 Freeway. On that section of it’s run the 105 is built high up in the air, towering above all but the skyscrapers and gives you a panoramic view of the L.A. Basin. As well as LAX, since the freeway was built to be something of an expressway from various parts of L.A. to the airport. (On a sidenote, I remember taking my mother to dialysis one morning and watching the space shuttle in the distance wending its slow way through city streets.)

It was a bright, clear Chamber of Commerce day, blue skies all around and views to forever. The sun was behind me as I traveled west at high speed in the direction of the airport, and I had a clear view to the horizon from a long way out. From the 105, you see the backend of LAX, the south side behind the terminals and runways where they park planes and maintenance/emergency vehicles and the like, and where the outbuildings reside. I don’t know what made me look that way but I became suddenly aware of some odd thing floating low over this part of the airport. It couldn’t have been more than a couple of hundred feet off the ground. It didn’t look like a balloon or a drone or any kind of aircraft. It was oblong and odd shaped and brownish. “It looks like a donut,” I thought. (I’d already had breakfast so I wasn’t especially hungry.) That was odd enough, but stranger still was that it was absolutely motionless. It didn’t seem to move a particle for many long minutes, then began to glide with painful slowness to the northwest, towards the terminals and the runways, gaining a little in altitude but not much. The sun glinted off it a bit then, but not much. I kept flicking my eyes back and forth between the road and the sky. Fortunately, early on a Saturday morning, the traffic was fairly light. As I approached the Sepulveda Blvd. off ramp (where I usually exited the freeway), I flicked my eyes towards the exit, then back to the thing—and it had completely disappeared.

One thing most people may not know about Los Angeles County is that it has one of the highest rates of UFO spottings of anyplace in the country. This may have to do with the large amount of air traffic in the area or the vastness of the skies on a sunny day or military bases or…other factors. I can’t say.

I usually prefer logical explanations before jumping on the high strangeness bandwagon (something those who have read this blog for a while may not credit, but I do). So I thought perhaps whatever it was had landed (although in four or five seconds, that would have been more like a crash). I could still see the ground underneath where it had been and there was nothing like it on the ground. Maybe it was an odd-looking balloon and the wind picked up and started to move it—but why did it hover motionless for at least five minutes if that was the case? It could have been a drone, but I’ve never seen a drone that looked like that, and they were much less common back then. I suppose because I was traveling at a high rate of speed towards the object, I could have had the illusion that a very slow-moving object was standing still and as I got closer it appeared to move. Or some other form of real life trompe l’oeil. These are the things I told myself as I finished that drive home—even wasted some of my precious me time on it—and what I’ve thought about in the time since it happened.

But it was strange. And it did share the one characteristic with other more clearly delineated incidents of high strangeness I’ve experienced: I’ve never forgotten it, and it periodically hawks itself back up again in my memory to be examined and wondered over before I put it away on the shelf.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Unless, of course, it’s a cruller.

*It didn’t really look like a cruller—more of a buttermilk Long John, oblong and irregular—but cruller just sounded better.