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Monday, September 1, 2008

Someone Here Needs to Pay Attention

It’s the Labor Day Weekend here in the U.S., and I’ve been positively giddy with irresponsibility since Friday. A three-day weekend. Good God, so this is how the other half live.

Erin and I went to the Minnesota State Fair yesterday, where we were reckless and joyful in our spending. Cheap and marvelously dangly earrings that will no doubt turn our ears green or some other dangerous color in hours; tiny, sugary donuts fresh out of the donut-maker and bagged for us by surly teenagers; corn dogs on sticks slathered with mustard; ice-cold root beer (also available, for $2 more, in a “souvenir” – that is, plastic – State Fair cup); Styrofoam covers for our hangers for air-drying clothes; $20 400-count Egyptian cotton sheets – fitted, flat, and two pillow cases – perhaps the buy of the day; a round table cloth with embroidered pinecones and crocheted edges; and ceramic animals from Russia (a squirrel, a little birdie, and a recumbent fawn). Wheeeee!

But wait. I’m not telling this story properly; to do so, I need to back up to unpleasantness with the toilet.

Oh. I didn’t mention the Great Plumbing Disaster of ’08?

Let us revisit Saturday night.

Saturday night was Virgil and Kate’s wedding, held at the Minnekahda Country Club on Lake Calhoun, an absolutely first-rate affair, and that’s no kidding. I absolutely love being anywhere filled with good-looking, well-dressed people. Throw in an open bar – especially an open bar for the duration of the wedding reception – and a ten-piece funk band, and I don’t know how you’d beat that.

Fast forward to the end of a great evening. We can skip past the broken tail lights that we were notified of by friends behind us in traffic, skip past the group of foul-mouthed teenagers who refused to get out of the road to let our car through just blocks from the house, and go straight to our arrival home, whereupon I, drunk with free beer and the feelings produced by a night with good friends, used the bathroom.

Silly me.

I don’t care how drunk you are: when the water from the toilet sprays out of the tank and all over your floor, there’s a moment of simple-minded clarity.

“Hey! Water! Water!” I called.

My husband, William Throckmorton the III (herein after referred to as “Willie”) came running into the bathroom, full of the goodwill and helpfulness for which he is known.

He found the shut-off valve under the toilet tank. “What’d you do? What’d you do?”

“I peed, then I flushed, then there was water on the floor.”

“OK, so you peed, then flushed. What else? What’d you do?”

“Um, let me think. Yeah. I peed, I flushed and then there was water on the floor. Yep, that’s the whole thing.”

“Are you sure?”

“What do you want me to tell you? I’m pretty sure that’s the whole story.”

Faced with plumbing issues and the selling of a kidney or two in order to afford a plumber on a holiday weekend, we did what any couple in our shoes would do.

We went to bed.

In the morning, the phone rang. It was Kathy.


But of course! And can I come over and use your toilet?

We spoke, on the way to Kurt and Kathy’s house, in hushed and frightened tones of the need for a plumber; followed by my thrice quarterly rant on my failure to understand why he wouldn’t go to school to become a plumber. This, of course, got us where it always gets us: nowhere.

By the time breakfast was over and we returned home, we had girded our loins for the heartbreak paying a plumber holiday rates would cause.

“You know,” Willie said, “we might as well check our do-it-yourself book, see what we can do.”

I cleared away all the ridiculous stuff that surrounds the toilet area and Willie lifted the toilet tank cover. He began to giggle manically.

A plastic length of tubing had disconnected itself. Within moments, he had reattached it, turned the water back on and had successfully flushed the toilet.

We celebrated with a two-person boogie train around the interior of the house, complete with as elaborate dance steps as we could muster and bellowing “Woo-woooooo!” at the tops of our lungs.

So! I think there are a couple of lessons to be learned here.
1. Friends don’t ask friends questions when you say things like “Can I come over and use your bathroom?”
2. The pre-fact freak-out over cost is a waste of time.
3. Anything you believe might be true whilst drinking should be re-evaluated in the light of day.

Next up: Erin and Pearl hit the State Fair and learn about their sense of direction.

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