Saturday, July 7, 2012

Untidy Bowl


Me? I don’t suffer tools gladly. The ability to fix things around the house is one of the many traits that my Father entirely failed to pass on to me. Oh he tried certainly, but over the years his toolbox went from having a few bandaids in it to just using the first aid kit with a couple of wrenches in it.

He was a fragile fellow. Once fractured his skull leaning into a peg board hook. But he was my role model, so I basically suck at home repairs and improvement.

However, A few days ago I attempted to install a wall of shelves in my bathroom. I figured that since the majority of my reading takes place on the throne anyway, I might as well put the TBR ("To Be Read") library in there.
So I went to the Hardware Store. Now although I dislike working with tools, I LOVE buying them. (This trait WAS successfully passed down from Father to Son.) So a hardware store is a retail wonderland for me. All of these bright shiny items in their custom, fitted cases. I don’t know what half of these things DO, but they’re all beautiful and mysterious to me.

And I don’t think I’m alone in equating Hardware World with Disney World. I’ve seen other males in these places with glazed, happy expressions on their mugs. The trick is to go it alone and leave your wife (the owner of the majority of the house’s brains), at home.

One time I observed a couple arguing in a hardware store. The man was happily playing with a post-hole digger that was taller than he was. Over and over he was miming jamming the tool in the ground and spreading the tool apart to make the hole. His frantic wife was desperately trying to get his attention and have him engage his frontal lobe for a minute. This was the text of their dreamy/exasperated conversation:
“But we don’t NEED a post-hole digger.”
Scene of the  crime  home improvement.
(And yes, we have an outdoor half bath in the
middle of our livingroom. Doesn't everybody?)
“They’re two-for-one!”
“But we don’t even need ONE.”
“We can get two for the price of one!
“But what would we use ‘em FOR?”
“They’re buy-one-get-one-free!”
“But we don’t NEED a post-hole digger.”
Lather, rinse, repeat, repent.

What I was looking for was a kit for making shelves. Because although I don’t use tools well, I can follow directions like nobody’s business. I found what I was looking for, but I also noticed that it was kinda expensive. The bag just had brackets and screws and the page of instructions in it – you add the wood yourself. But how hard could it be? I mean, if I bought all of the stuff separately I would save a few bucks and the Wife would be happy with me. Forget the directions! What could possibly go wrong!?

Success! For one shining, eternal,
Brigadoon-like Moment.
While Admiral Karen was out with her Girls I spent an afternoon measuring the space above the toilet tank, cutting the wood, mapping out where the holes would go and attaching the brackets to the wall by putting the screws through the sheetrock.

So far so good. I carefully placed the shelves on top of the brackets and stepped back to admire my handiwork. Sweet. Nice tight fit. Color almost matches. They were even level, for the most part.

So I started hauling my books in by the armful and carefully placing them on their assigned shelves, in order. A shelf for fiction and humor, one for history, three for World War II, and one for my 17 volume History of Men’s Magazines. The standard Guy allotment.

And then I stood back and looked at my creation for a moment.

A beautiful moment.

A moment of perfect clarity. 

The soft fluorescent light shining off the spines of the books, the gleam of the shiny screws in the brackets, the faint aroma of lavender from the backyard where a gorgeous summer afternoon was coming to a reluctant close.
…..Somewhere, off in the distance, a dog barked.
It is a moment that is forever etched into my memory.

See? Brilliant! (From familyhandyman.com)
Because what was written on the instruction sheet that I did NOT spend the extra couple of bucks to get was the handy phrase “Screws should be put into studs behind the sheetrock”. And my whole wall of books came crashing, tumbling down, with a sound like a drunken Gene Krupa drum solo and a cloud of sheetrock dust from the screws ripping back through the wall and launching themselves at me like a swarm of “idiot seeker” missiles.

I ended up in a fetal position in the sink, covered in hardbacks, centerfolds, white dust and shame.

I then decided to do what my Dad always did in similar situations: Punt. I cleaned up the mess, phoned my friend Mykey and he came over with these marvelous inventions called “Threaded Drywall Toggles” which go through the sheetrock and then spread out and form a secure anchor for the screw to go into to hold the shelf up. What a clever invention!

I also saved a few bucks because he refused to charge me for his labor or materials because he thought my tale of moronic idiottude was payment enough.

Can you find the crack? No? Well your ass
WILL most assuredly find it.
He couldn’t fix my toilet, however. In the avalanche of Nazis and boobs the lid on my toilet seat had taken the brunt of the books and had broken clean in two. This didn’t bother me too much. I always thought the lids on top of toilet bowls to be kinda useless anyway.

The seat though is rather more central to the experience. So a couple of weeks later when THAT broke I knew I would have to fix it. And pronto.

Now it could just be coincidence that the seat broke soon after I smashed down 400 pounds of books on it. The double bean burrito I had for lunch that day may have been a contributing or a deciding factor as well. In any case there was a definite crack along the, um, the left upper thigh. It wasn’t even really noticeable. But when you sat down on it, it would spread apart a little bit. Just enough. And then, business done, as you rise off of the seat, it snaps back together. And you make a noise like someone just put the nipple clamps on Placido Domingo.

And there we go. Mission Accomplished!
So it was back to the Hardware Store, limping in this time with tears in my eyes. A friendly employee saw me, noted how I was clutching the bottom of one asscheek, and he wordlessly led me to the “Plumbing Supplies” section. We nodded at each other, gave a fist bump and he disappeared. What is understood need not be discussed.

And then I got another shock: There were patterns on some toilet seats!

This was news to me. I’ve never paid any attention to toilets (other than aiming), and had no idea that there were any decorative options available. So, since I was shopping alone, and since that I had not received a specific instruction from Admiral Karen NOT to buy a clear, acrylic toilet seat with rubber duckies all over it, that is what I got.

I’ll even install it all by myself. Because, after all, what could possibly go wrong?

Angus McMahan

7 comments:

  1. Rather adorable to have duckies on your loo!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh my gosh, this is awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you, everyone. Please share it around if you enjoyed it. 'Spread the Septic' - as it were.....

    ReplyDelete
  4. I always loved this story.

    Of course, the first time I read it I immediately asked Mom if I could get an acrylic rubber ducky toilet seat.

    She said no.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh what fun to read. Thank you, Sir!! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hillarious! I'll have to share this one with my husband.

    ReplyDelete