What Goes Down Sometimes Comes Up

The problems all started this weekend when Mrs. Poobah flushed the toilet and let out an otherworldly scream. “Poooo! (meaning me, the Poobah, not the actual poo) there’s shit in the shower.”

“Oh shit,” I said in a statement of the obvious. “I’ll get the plunger and see what I can do.” After all, there’s nothing I like better than a little plumbing early on a Sunday morning. I was stoked, let me tell you. It isn’t often a suburban male is presented with such a testosterone-fueled test of masculinity.

After some furious pumping, all I managed to accomplish was to flush more shit into the shower, the bathtub, and the sinks. I’m not sure, but I think some of it might even have come up in the dog’s water dish. It was time for a call to Roto-Rooter – “and away go troubles down the drain”. Alas, if it were only true.

Six hours, two rooter heads, and several calls for a backup from a crack SWAT team of special forces plumbers later, I was presented for a bill for $1118 and the great news that there was a collapse in my sewer pipe at some indeterminate point between my house and the main, about 200 ft and two neighboring backyards away. To find it, we would apparently need a “locator specialist” equipped with more high-tech equipment than a nuclear submarine.

He arrived this morning and finished his work in quick order. I guess you can do that when you have about $12 million worth of equipment. After 10 minutes he presented me with a shrug and an estimate of $6200 to dig up the pipe and determine if it could be fixed. Now $6200 seems like a big sum for a hole in the ground, but it is my good fortune that this will be no regular hole.

It will be six feet deep, dug by hand because there is no way to get heavy equipment to it. It will be on the side of a steep hill that will require shoring to guard against collapse. It will be dug carefully because is is about six inches from the footing for my two story deck. A large flower box and a healthy crop of weeds will have to be removed as well.

Once the hole is opened, they’ll know whether the problem can be fixed. That’s right, $6200 to figure out if they can fix the problem. If so, they will replace a small section of pipe and continue clearing the line, running the chance we may uncover another break farther down (the good news). If they can’t, they’ll need to drive a new pipe through our backyard, under a fence and drainage culvert, through two more backyards (necessitating removing their fences as well), into the street below, and 12-15 feet down to the main (the not-so-good news).

In addition, two different sanitation districts are arguing over who owns the main, which lays directly on top of the dividing line between the districts. We’ll probably need mediators from the State Department to solve the ownership issue. The construction of the Hoover Dam may not have been this complex. I’m not sure if they will need to call in the Army Corps of Engineers or not.

Now you may be gasping at my ill-fortune at this point. But for me, this is just another day if home ownership. Over the past 20 years I’ve had to disassemble a wall to get to a cleanout trap, remove a yard-sized, plastic pool lining from under my lawn, and cope with a scalding pipe that burst at 2 am, ruining a freshly cleaned carpet, a newish sofa, and scalding our dog. I’m old and wizened in the ways of the home owner. For me this is another yawn, albeight an expensive one.

It will be another three weeks before we can get it fixed (we’re going back East in a few days). I’ll keep you posted on our progress. Perhaps I’ll create a little JavaScript “shit counter” that runs like one of those “national debt clocks” you see. However, I am troubled that the known prime numbers may not go high enough to make it work.

Like they say, “when it rains, it pours”. Man, I wish I could my hands on that little Morton Salt bitch.

Vengeance is Mine – A Cautionary Tale

This story is true. There are no names and there are no innocents to protect. Hence, no need to change any names.

My first vehicle was a 1956 Ford F-150 pickup truck that was converted to a flatbed. In a previous life it had been one of Ma Bell’s finest, with one of those old-fashioned square toolbox backs that looked like an onlive green ice cream truck. I suppose that today some enterprising young chap would have kept the tool bed and started selling drugs out of the back. My teenage years were a simpler time.

It was the best vehicle $150 could buy. Plenty of rust. Missing running boards. Inoperable turn signals. Some foam stuck to the driver’s seat with duct tape to compensate for missing stuffing. Later, the rear-end differential would crap out and I would discover the engine block was cracked. Not high-class – but hey! – it was mine.

One day I pulled into a convenience store so that one of my underage friends could could try unsuccessfully to buy beer or cigarettes or some other delinquent enterprise. As I sat in the cab, poised for a quick getaway, a Cadillac convertible pulled in. It was avocado green and sported the most mammoth fins Caddy ever turned out. There was more chrome on it than a Presidential limo from Paraguay. It hurt your eyes just to look at it.

It was driven by an old lady – actually, a not-unattractive, 30-something MILF. She wore rhinestone-encrusted cat eye sunglasses, a pink chiffon scarf over her stiff blond hair, and a tight leopard skin outfit. She was smoking a Virginia Slim, presumably because she’d come a long way baby. She looked liked Thelma, minus Louise.

As she exited her car, she flung the door open in a powerful arch. Weighing in at about the same as a bank vault door, it hit the truck so hard that I rocked to the side. I envisioned serious damage, but wasn’t overly concerned. I knew the truck was a piece of shit. It was more interested in the principle of civility involved.

Quiet descended over the parking lot as I awaited an apology. But, all I heard was the clicking of her stilettos as she walked into the store. I was left enveloped in a thick cloud of Taboo perfume and a slow burning rage.

Now, I’m usually a peaceable sort. Even as a teenager I was slow to anger. I figured maybe she had somehow missed the solid bang of the sheet metal behemoths crashing into each other. Besides she was an adult and you just can’t go around arguing with them. Who knows what craziness could ensue? I was pretty miffed, but I kept my teenage cool.

Shortly, she returned to her car. She grabbed that ugly, giant thing and swung it open a second time. Incredibly, it crashed into my door again. Charged with a fresh pack of smokes and ginormous Slurpee, she busied herself with the apparently long, airliner-like check list required to start that 4,000 lb. monster. The rhinestones on her sunglasses sparkled prettily in the sun and her scarf fluttered in the breeze. I didn’t hear a peep.

I sat there stunned.

Then I found words…”HEY! LADY!,” I shouted through my open window.

No response.

“HEEEYYYYY! BIATCH,” I shouted (maybe using for the first time this now-popular slang). “DO YOU HAVE A…PROBLEM?!!!!???”

Still no response. Not even a dismissive flick of the pretty blond head.

I sat there even more stunned.

Then, I did an amazing thing. Something so shocking that even all these years later I can’t believe I did this to a living, breathing adult.

I slowly opened my door and climbed down. I walked over to the front of her car hood and lightly tapped on the hood as if on someone’s front door. She looked up, slightly puzzled.

Then, I did it.

SMASH!!! I kicked her LEFT headlight out. I slowed walked over to the RIGHT headlight. SMASH!!! Glass tinkled to the pavement. Her jaw dropped as I said in a very pleasant voice, “Oh my. I’m sorry. See lady. That’s what one says when one accidentally makes a mistake. I’m sure you’ll understand.”

I quietly walked back to my truck and climbed aboard as the sun silhouetted me against the horizon. I felt very powerful. I think I heard the clink of spurs as I walked. The woman continued to stare, but never said a word.

My friend returned and climbed in. “What happened?”

“Oh, nothing,” I said with am exaggerated southern drawl. “My work here is done. Let’s roll.”

10 Things That Piss Me Off

  1. People who park their shopping carts in the middle of the friggin’ aisle and stand there as though they are the only person in the store. I mean, how much brain power can it take to find a can of tuna fish for Chrissakes?
  2. Cher, because she scares me. Meryl Streep because, well, she’s Meryl Streep. Xuxa, the Brazilian Playboy model turned kid’s show host because I just have this thing about kid’s show hosts. They’re just icky, OK.
  3. Stephen King. A casual correspondent once told me that I was her favorite writer after Stephen King. I may be a hack, but I was INSULTED! Stephen, it’s about quality, not quantity.
  4. The fact that they don’t offer cars with optional rocket launchers. We can get everything from mini-IMAX theatres to microwaves in a car yet they won’t offer something as useful as rocket launchers. GM! ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? TOYOTA? DON’T PISS ME OFF!
  5. Insurance companies. Oh sure, they’re all nice and cuddly in the commercials but where the hell are they when something happens. It’s the only business that I can think of that makes money by having you bet against yourself…think about it. It’ll come to you.
  6. The Family Circus comic. No family could possibly be that dysfunction-free. That Billy is going to grow up to be a mass murdering flesh eater if you ask me. Really, have you ever noticed the similarity between Jeffrey Dahmer and that kid? It’s uncanny.
  7. Pat Robertson. This is a guy who once claimed to pray that a hurricane veer away from his home office in Virginia. Of course, the folks in South Carolina and Florida didn’t think that was such a swell talk with God.
  8. Dick Cheney, because people that evil should stay in Wyoming where they can’t hurt anyone.
  9. Karl Rove because tattletales are just the worst.
  10. Cowboy George and the horse he rode in on because the horse is smarter and George has permanently ruined cowboy movies for me. Lone Ranger, where were you when we needed you?