Monday, August 13, 2007

Keeping the world safe from inadequately pumped Softsoap

Affixed to a sink in the women's bathroom is a note:

Do Not Use
soap dispenser


Well. Heckuva job, there, Secretary Chertoff!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

So very toilet

Fred Milton, the beat-poet poodle in Lynda Barry's cartoons, frequently has that refrain--declaring that O! things are toilet indeed. In this vein, I'm also thinking of when little Pancake was in co-op daycare, and a vogue of toddler cursing swept the school--people calling each other "poopy" and such. After some debate with the teachers and parents, an approved list of benign expletives was established, which included the word "diaper." "That is totally diaper!" Michelle and I went around saying for weeks.

So. The bathtub in my 65-year-old home has been a bit lethargic of drain since I moved in; when things worsened periodically, a slug of Drano or some other store-brand caustic usually did the trick. But this week it got grim indeed, burps and blurts of rusty crudwater backfilling into the tub when I ran the sink. Tuesday night I plunged and Dranoed and plunged anew, assaulted the clog with a boiling teakettle, followed the directions in my most excellent Dare to Repair ladies' guide to home maintenance (hi, Holly!), unscrewing the drain trap and the overflow stopper mechanism and plunging and plunging again. Around midnight, I thought I had it beat; God knows the plunging was a fine upper-body workout.

But no. Wednesday morning shower, and again the cloudy soapscummy water pooled around my ankles, going nowhere. I groped muttering for my towel...and then noticed how the toilet had gotten into the act, overflowing across the room and submerging the bathmat. Toilet water! Yes, it was "clean," from the bowl...but that remains a toilet bowl. I deployed a plethora of curses, none from the approved daycare list, and squelched off to call a plumber and my boss, in that order.

"Tub and toilet--so, that's a clog in your main sewer line," announced one of the two wrenchmeisters deployed to my home. Of course my wee ancient cottage is too small to maneuver in; the snake apparatus would not fit into the bathroom or the crawl space or through the mysterious, now-weeping capped port in the linen closet. They had to dig a trench along side my house to get to the main line. Plumber A handed me the clipboard with their estimate. I invoked The Lord, loudly, but He made no comment and so I signed. What else can you do? It's a one-bath house, I'm essentially hostage to the Rooter Rescue Squad: pay, or pee in a bucket. I slumped in my office, crying over my laptop while the crew dug and sawed pipe and rotorooted and wet-vac'ed and had a sneezing fit and cursed a little in Spanish, lending some cultural variety to the stream of invective that hovered over my bathroom all day long.

$1667 and change later, I once again have the privilege of modern conveniences. On the plus side, the ditch-digging operation tore out approximately 654 linear miles of morning glory I'd been meaning to get to, so hey: no need to salt the earth on the north side of the house. On the negative, there goes the flat-panel LCD television I'd been saving up for, literally flushed away. That, and the knowledge that toilet shenanigans of any sort occurred in my bathroom and were presumably tracked hither and yon through the house by the plumbers. I mopped like a fiend (more upper body, plus cardio!), but there is a part of me convinced I will never feel clean again; I kind of want to boil and bleach the floors. And possibly myself, from the knees down. As soon as I stop rocking back and forth, cradling the stump of my Visa card to my chest and crying.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Department of Homeland Security

Sis alerted me to this MSNBC headline this morning: Man hides monkey in hat, smuggles it into N.Y. You know that if he'd flown directly to New York first, instead of via Ft. Lauderdale, he'd have gotten away with it; stroll through La Guardia with a marmoset in your chapeau, no New Yorker is going to notice. They're too busy pulling me out of the security line because I failed to empty my pockets and remove my shoes in the correct order. I'm sorry, they have to swab my entire laptop down with a bomb-detecting Q-tip--no one has time to spot A MONKEY IN A DUDE'S HAT.

I also appreciate the fact that, once detected, the spirited but well-behaved Peruvian marmoset stayed in the man's seat for the rest of the flight. Obviously some good parenting going on there, which is often in short supply in the jetosphere.