Thursday, May 01, 2008

Iceberg, Right Ahead

Tuesday night was all planned out.

I had a long day of driving for work Wednesday, so I had to go to bed at 9:00. I came home, made an early dinner, we watched an episode of My So Called Life (I love you, Netflix!!), and I was to take a shower and go to bed. My clothes were laid out, my lunch was made, I had a 'don't forget' list posted by the front door. Not because I'm anal retentive; because I'm basically useless at four o'clock in the morning. Which was when I was getting up.

I was in the shower, washing my hair, thinking sunshiny-organized thoughts. I noticed a vibration and the funny low grumble of the sump pump under my feet.

Some quick and not-too technical explanation; I live on a boggy hill and like everyone in my town, without some sort of elaborate continual drainage, I'd probably come down to the basement to do laundry and find Gollum fishing in the corners. My landlord rigged up a pipe that goes from the sump pump well to the pipe that carries away our flushies and old showers, so when it kicks on it just pumps that water away into the sewer. I don't completely understand how it all works. I stay away from the sump pump and the creepy well that reminds me of The Ring.

Odd, I think to myself. It hasn't been raining. Why is the pump running? And, a few minutes after I shut off the water, Why is the pump still running? I decide that once I am no longer streaming wet and naked, I'll go check it out.

I understood two things very clearly when I got married. One, I married for love. Two, I married a man of books and letters. As such, he is a wonderfully articulate, intelligent, funny and interesting person with whom I have a wonderful time. We share a sense of humor and a love of the written word. In exchange, I understood that this wonderful man is not so much with the tools and the fixing and the How-Things-Work. Its just not his bailiwick.

Me: "Honey, the pump is running."

Himself: "Do you want me to go see what's going on? I have to put on my shoes."

Me: (Exasperated) "Do you just want me to go down?"

I towel off and throw on a nightgown. As I find my sandals, I hear the back door open, and I hear something that sounds like someone has installed a mall fountain in my basement.

And my wonderful husband of books and letters, the man I am glad to spend every day with, shrieks like a little girl.

The pipe from the well was still lashed to the sewer pipe, but it was no longer CONNECTED to it in a 'water goes where its supposed to' kind of way. Instead it was spewing an arc of distressingly rusty brown water directly into the middle of the house.

Himself: "WE HAVE TO CALL WARREN!!!" He runs upstairs and I follow him.

Warren? I think he means our brother in law, who 1) lives over an hour away and 2) once called 911 when a water pipe broke in his basement. I'm failing to see what he would bring to the situation. I finally realize that 'Warren' is a local plumber who was at the house two years ago for some sink issue or other. Meanwhile he has our landlord on the phone, and he is trying to explain the problem. Which is still happening. I snatch the phone from him and go back downstairs.

Now, I'm no master of sewage sciences either, my solution to the problem was to grab the hose that had broken loose from its moorings and jam it back where it came from. I have not considered that there might be a CLOG, or that the clog in question would merrily divert the brown water BACK INTO THE HOUSE. A few seconds later I hear this:


I pull out the hose, which squirts all over my freshly scrubbed arms and bare feet and Birkenstocks. I still have the landlord on the line. He helpfully suggests that I UNPLUG THE SUMP PUMP. Jim, you said you couldn't be much help, being in New Jersey. You were wrong. Because obviously neither of us had the presence of mind to do this. I pull the plug and the cataclysm stops.

Himself: "WHERE IS YOUR PHONE??" (Because I have his phone.)


This whole conversation is shouted through the basement ceiling/kitchen floor. I thank Jim for his help, let him know we'll call to tell him how it went, and ring off. Himself comes down to report that he left a message for Warren the Plumber, while I eyeball the contents of the utility sink. Bits of old toilet paper are swirling gracefully in it.

I suddenly feel very, very dirty. Its 9:30pm. I was supposed to be in bed half an hour ago. I can't run any water. I take my washcloth, do a Lady Macbeth on every appendage that was baptized by the Hose of Death, and rub in an entire travel-size bottle of Purell. And I go to bed.

Twenty minutes later, Warren arrives and goes right to work. God bless him. But it takes quite a while to properly snake a drain. Our house is one floor, and the offending clog and subsequent snaking noise was pretty much 12 feet under my pillow. So I turned the light back on, read some Anne Lamott, and waited for him to finish. Then, replaying our drama, I got the giggles. My dashing man may not know what to do when the water rushes in, but he knows where the lifeboats are. I finally got to sleep around 10:45, and I still got up at four.

But that is another whole story.

Head on down to Humor Blogs, where all the flushing goes where its supposed to! Click for me and arrest the popularity onslaught of my fabulous sister in law!!


Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Heh. When I saw the title of your post, I immediately thought Pittsburgh Penguins Iceburgh. I guess I have hocky on the brain.

I think I like that he screamed like a girl when he saw what was going on. It makes me feel a little better that my instinct would have been to run the other way as fast as possible.

Beware: Social Worker on the edge said...

OMG thats gross. If it makes you feel any better, I also married on of those.

The wonderful husband of books and letters said...

For the record, I didn't shriek "like a little girl." I might have caterwauled or even yawped or yelped or vociferated, but shriek, I mean really (said in a British accent).

The rest, though, is pretty accurate. I am no Tim the Tool Man Taylor. Plumbing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical is not my domain (to use a less erudite word); I contract out for that.

Jonny's Mommy said...

"And my wonderful husband of books and letters, the man I am glad to spend every day with, shrieks like a little girl."

Trust me I've known this "man" his whole life. I bet he did too "shriek like a little girl."

Oh my gosh! Ok, so I don't usually cry from laughter, but just now, reading this, as my boss (not the hubby-boss) walked by, I was in tears as I laughed at this post. I swear he probably thought I was having another "woman issue."

The Brother-in-law did call 911, I can attest to that. I can also attest to a slightly creepy police officer, who turned out to be very nice, standing in our kitchen for 20 minutes in the middle of the night until the water company came to shut off our water.

Alice said...

I too married a 'book man' and there are LOTS of days that I wish I married a handy man. I take care of most things myself.

You should read The Sweet Potato Queen - she says every woman needs five men in her life and one of those is a man WHO CAN FIX THINGS.

Jenn said...

I too am often the man of this house...I feel your pain. My book man isn't too terrible with tools, or sewage, but his shreaking like a girl comes with bugs - hates 'em, can't stand 'em!