Well it’s the first day of the New Year and as usual I have
not made any meaningful resolutions because I know myself well enough to know
that making a resolution is the same thing as saying, “Here’s something I won’t
accomplish this year.” Instead, I am focusing on positive things about myself
that I will accentuate in the coming months. Like my nascent home repair
This week I fixed my upstairs sink. Until then, I’d never
fixed anything in my entire life (except my dog, and that was just a matter of
writing a check because as competent as I am, I didn’t want to cut out my own
dog’s lady parts), but my bathroom sink was draining slowly and I determined to
correct the problem myself instead of hiring somebody to do the job for me. My
first thought, of course: Drain-O. But I’ve been told that stuff is terrible
for the environment or for pipes or maybe it hates white people or something. I
don’t know, but I knew not to use it, which meant I had to walk over to my
bookcase and take out a book I’ve owned for the better part of a decade but
have never cracked open before: “The Home Depot Book of Home Repair.”
What a book! Anything you need to fix in your home - be it the
toilet, roof tile, electrical wiring system, espresso maker, Wii, fractured
relationships – you can find out how to do it within, all tasks dutifully
explained by Home Depot’s cartoon everyman, Homer, who wears his ballcap low
and looks like a three-pack-a-day smoker.
Under the plumbing chapter, I read about fixing drains. The
advice was short and concise, and I pretty much didn’t understand it. So I got
out my wrench, put on my brand-new fuscia work coveralls and matching jazz
shoes, and got to work. The first thing I had to do was unscrew the stopper,
which I didn’t even know you could do. You can. Then I peered into the dark
recesses of my drain pipe. Blackish water burbled below. This was going to
require a snake.
A snake is a long piece of metal tubing encased in
plastic sheathing which you, the intrepid plumber, feed into your home’s
intestines. The snakehead slithers through the pipes, dislodging any built-up
gunk. Could I use one of those things for my own colon? Could I!!! The problem, I
discovered, was that I did not own a snake, and so had to make a special trip
to Ace Hardware to purchase one. Even though I only go to Ace once a twice a
year they all know me there (very famous), and give me the kind of friendly
service which is supposed to make me feel good but instead just makes me very
Returning home, I couldn’t wait to send my snake slithering.
As it happens, there was no need as I quickly discerned that the reason for my
sink’s drainage issue was merely an accumulation of hair right there at the
top, easily retrieved and disposed of with my wife’s good pair of tweezers (I
didn’t tell her I used them for that and now that I’m writing this, I realize I
neglected to clean them afterwards. Oh well.) Within mere moments, the pipes
were clean. HOWEVER.
The however is that when I unscrewed the stopper, the little
plastic piece that held the stopper to the faucet mechanism became dislodged
and fell down into the drain trap. TRAGEDY! How was I going to retrieve the
little plastic piece? Answer: disassemble the drain trap!
A lesser man might have said, “No way am I going to
disassemble the drain trap because that sounds hard." But not this lesser man. No, instead I actually
GOT UNDER THE SINK, a process which necessitated me GETTING DOWN ON MY KNEES
and PEERING UPWARDS at an UNCOMFORTABLE ANGLE, exactly the sort of blue-collar
activity for which I have been conditioned my entire life NOT to endure. But I
did it. Assessing the situation, I quickly deduced (without the help of Homer)
that the proper way to proceed was to unscrew the two thingys, and remove the
curvy thingy. Which I did. It took about thirty seconds. There, trapped in the
curvy thingy was the little plastic thingy, which I shook out into my hand and
held aloft like a piece of Spanish gold harvested from the ocean floor.
Mission accomplished? No dear friends, mission just begun.
Because now I had to not only reattach the entire drain trap, but figure out
how to reassemble the stopper to the rest of the faucet. The drain pipe was a
piece of cake. Where I once unscrewed, now I simply screwed. A little elbow
grease was required but nothing I could not handle with my very, very good
Getting the stopper back together was a more difficult
proposition because I had to get the plastic thing back onto the metal bar,
then position it in such a way to allow me screw the stopper back in. Sound
easy? Sure. Was it? No sir! Everything kept jiggering and tilting and because
my fingers are so thick and masculine, I could not reach down there to get the
damned thing stabilized long enough for me to thread the stopper. But
necessity is the mother of invention and after many minutes of swearing and
crying, I finally used the aforementioned tweezers and some Yankee ingenuity to
get the whole thing back together.
Now for the test. Would the water quickly drain? I turned on
the faucet and let it run. No water build-up, no spillage from the drain trap.
Nothing to indicate any problems. I plugged up the sink. The stopper worked
beautifully, a cork in the proverbial bottle. When I released it, the water
swirled down in a pleasant funnel shape, a tiny homemade whirlpool, before
disappearing into my home’s bowels and from there onto my property’s
leeching fields where it will be filtered and dispersed to the ground water, thereafter joining pristine Connecticut rivers before finally ending up in the
Atlantic Ocean, where it will be shit upon by some fish.
After this incredible adventure, I fixed my kid’s bathtub, which is a whole
other, equally compelling story. I won’t spoil it for you here, but let’s just
say the snake finally got a chance to work it’s charming magic. (Unnecessarily,
as it turns out, the problem with their tub had nothing to do with it
being clogged.) But that’s a tale for a different time. The salient point here
is that I am genius. Happy New Year everybody. In 2010 may all your plumbing
problems be solved as simply as my own, and if they cannot be, may you hire an
illegal immigrant to fix them who will have no legal recourse against you if
you choose not to pay him because he is afraid of getting deported by involving
himself in our nations’s criminal justice system.