24 nov 1999         

- i feex! -

You might think I'd be calm and cool around devices like the one you see here, especially after what I said exactly a year ago about my lust for technological gadgets.  But I crave only the gadgetry I don't expect to understand.  I will happily drown in the Wow Factor of super cool toys like laser pointers and airborne weather radar, and if they break, well, too bad.  I am comfortably beyond hope of ever repairing the products of high-tech wizardry.

It's the mid-tech and low-tech items that bother me.  There's a whole other set of expectations that comes with those.  As a homeowner, it's important to maintain an image of competency.  You don't want the neighbors to see too many repair trucks parked out front because you know then it's just a small leap for them to conclude that you have a tiny penis.  Trust me, I know these things.  Keeping up with the Johnsons is an ongoing and all-encompassing force in suburbia, like an inescapable electromagnetic field, and it may cause tumors.  Let us call upon Science to peer into America's back door and find an end to this scourge.

So you can imagine the malaise that's been humming in my subconscious ever since the toilet in our main bathroom became an intermittent runner.  Jiggling the handle has never helped.  Days and days of tinkering, furrowed brows, and wet arms led me to conclude that I had a bad flapper.  I discovered it after replacing the bad fill valve (which really was bad, but I had a compound problem).  I couldn't simply replace the flapper because the new flappers these days do not connect to the old overflow tubes.  One can replace an overflow tube only by removing the entire tank from the bowl, going in from the bottom, replacing the parts, and then reassembling the toilet as one mumbles a brief but passionate plumbing prayer.

But I haven't done this yet because I had to call out the Go Team (me and my workboots) on a lawn sprinkler problem.  I had some serious PVC hemorrhaging near or within the anti-siphon valve on the number six rear line serving the east parkway.  Had me about a 2 gph outflow rate next to the foundation of the house.  That's some bad ugly.

Day before yesterday, after my 647th trip to Home Depot, I went in.  There was some sawing, some fitting, some sealing, but mostly there was some real brain-sizzling deciphering of instructions meant for people who do this sort of thing every day.

Repairman is not my first language.  I always bombed on those tests where they show you a bunch of gears and you have to figure out which way the last one is turning.  And I may have inherited a gene from my father which dictates that on every repair job, no matter how minor, and even if it's performed using only the toes of one foot, the repairer will come away with a bleeding cut on the head.  Despite all this, I lunged forward, knowing if I didn't fix it and fix it now that it would be only a couple of hours before my house slid into the creek across the street. 

New valve: check.

Leather gloves: check.

Screwdrivers: check.

Eclectic variety of PVC fittings: check.

Eclectic variety of PVC fittings of the correct size: check.

Wire cutter and gauge: check.

Electrical tape: check.

Teflon tape: check.

Hacksaw: check.

Coping saw after finding out hacksaw too big: check.

Roll of paper towels: check.

PVC primer and solvent: check.

Band-Aids™: check.

Cordless phone with plumber on speed-dial: check.

Cordless phone with mommy on speed-dial: grow up.

Deep cleansing breaths: check.

In I went.

And I fixed it.  Simple as that.  Oh sure, I had to figure out why it wasn't working right at first, and I had to twist that one thing and rewire that other thing and laugh at myself a few times while remembering again those tests with the little gears, but it works.  And it emits really very little smoke.


I'd be inside my toilet right now if it weren't Thanksgiving tomorrow.  So rather than eating a turkey dinner miles away while having visions of a newly repaired overflow tube bursting through solid porcelain with a stream of water behind it at 80lbs. psi, I'm opting to do that repair on Saturday.

In the meantime, my huge penis and I are going to enjoy the holiday.  I wish the same for you and yours.


  today's music:

"How Deep Is The Ocean?" -- Chet Baker -- CHET BAKER: VERVE JAZZ MASTERS #32


today's wisdom:

"A great many people have asked how I manage to get so much work done and still keep looking so dissipated."

- Robert Benchley