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January 01, 2010

My End of Year Adventure!!!

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 skills.

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 uncomfortable.



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 physique.

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.





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Oh ,Michael....you could have flown my husband out to you to fix your electrical AND plumbing problems. The only cost would have been airfare and the frustration of convincing him to wear the jazz shoes. (He already owns fuscia overalls)
But that probably would have been "weird".


I could read this stuff all day.


Tim the Tool Man Taylor has got NOTHING on you. :)

Jennifer Baird

You are one funny as hell man! Good luck in the new year!


Congratulations! I would like you to please cut out my own lady parts.


Happy New Year to you, Mr. Fix It, with the thick stubby sausage fingers.*

My GOD this was funny! From this day foreward, all of your home repair adventures must be recorded either on this blog or in your book that is forthcoming. Deal? Please? If you're not down for it, I'll just go ahead and have my coven put a spell on you, so.

(Note about that lie: Michael has the kind of long elegant fingers found on a pianist, artist, or awesome finger-banger).


It feels good, doesn't it, fixing up your house? It really does. We just created a mountain wall on the back of my son's door to match his jungle room. Shag carpeting over plywood screwed to the door and covered with snakes and spiders stapled to it. He loves it. It's a shaggy creature-infested mountain! (Now nevermind that this was really done to help block out all the noise from our new xbox and Rock Band obsession, which probably isn't the most altruistic motivation.) It's still fun to improve a space :)

I'm glad you unlocked your genius and decoded the whole two thingys, curvy thingy, uncomfortable blue collar upward angle puzzle. That is some downright heroic (and hilarious) home repair.

Here's to a new year filled with holding miscellaneous thingies aloft like chunks of Spanish bullion! (also hilarious) Next, maybe (1) weilding a slab of replaced rusty gutter, Excaliber style (2) or slaying tiles with your light saber caulk gun (3) or maybe hoisting a long-dusty birdhouse aloft like the proud flag at Iwo Jima, eh eh eh?? I can't wait to read all about it. Happy New Year (very famous) Michael Ian Black & family!!!


HI Michael,


Did you know that you can get a snake with a camera? Oh, the things you come across:::shudder::::


The home surgery book is more fun but I can see how you got jazzed...


It's true what they say about house repairs, it will make you wish there were 48 hours to each day.

Anyway. This entry tickled me. So much that I sort of wish there was another one just like it. Has there been any more damage to your house since the other day? Frozen pipes, blown apart fences, crumbling toilets...?

Mark Watson

Mr. Black,

Thanks for commenting on your various endeavors posted on this blog.


I know you are joking, I'm not above the occasional deportation quip, however let's encourage people to get paid for the work they complete, no?

Reen not Renee'

That's not me. That Renee' up there? Not me. I'm setting the record straight because EVERYONE is wondering. Wonder no more, everyone. Wonder no more.

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I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed. Really a nice post here!

Doug Willming

I have a snake, but what you really need for kitchen sink clearing is this sweet baby, the Clog Buster http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3286577&CAWELAID=288927197

Looks kinda like a dildo but you attach it to your hose (ooops), stick it in the overflow drain under the sink, turn on the hose water, and voila! it blows the gunk out bigtime! I've saved so many calls to the plumber when the Mrs. has stuck pasta or potato peels down the garbage disposal.

On a side note, my daughter Wendy is apparently giving you a lift back to your vehicle via golf cart after your UNT gig - mention you've conversed with me and freak her out.

Thanks for all the laughs!

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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.


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