Love, Plumbing Problems, and the True Meaning of Togetherness

“Honey, come here.” She called out.

“Ok.” I called back. Why do bad things happen just when you get comfortable in your favorite chair, your coffee still warm, feet up, not an interrupting phone call all day, and then that danged Karma bites you on the butt. It stings, but you realize this is only the initial stage of that SOB’s revenge.

“Now!” She calls.

Oooo. That sounds ominous. There is a special shrill tone in a woman’s voice that pierces a man’s ears like that first scratchy riff on a Grateful Dead song. By God, it hurts. “Right now” means your peaceful Sunday evening is over. In fact despite the speed of sound being 767 miles per hour, your wife’s cry for help reaches your ears faster.

Halfway down the hall one whiff and I knew what was wrong. Just as I turned the corner she informed me, “The toilet is overflowing”. At that point it was obvious my peaceful evening was but a faint memory. Both toilets had overflowed and the bathtubs were belching like that guy who just won the hot dog eating contest. Bet his bathroom suffered the next day.

I am a firm believer bad news comes in threes. At our house fours, fives, and once a seven showed up. Bad would be if she had walked into the bathroom and noticed water flowing from the top lip. That’s bad alright. This was worse. Poo city…everywhere.

She jumped out of the way so fast and sprinted down the hall at a speed NFL wide receivers would envy and she has MS and a bad knee. In a way it was almost a miracle and I admired her athleticism.

We made frantic calls for a plumber. It was Sunday evening and plumbers always take vacations in France each weekend from Friday at 5 pm until Monday at 8 am. This is without exception. We called our plumber, “Oxford Plumbers”, and his answering machine said, “Please call Monday. I will be in France”. That was odd so we called a second plumber, “Kowalski Plumbing”. Nice Polish name. The answering machine said, “Please call Monday. I will be in France”. After three more attempts with the same result I have made the deduction France is the place for plumbers on the weekends. Perhaps, they make so much money during the week they can afford to vacation on the Rivera on weekends. I don’t know. Whatever the cause, there was a total absence of plumbers from the State of Mississippi. We were stuck.

There once was a lawyer who, as the story goes, had a plumbing problem so he calls a plumber. The plumber shows up, takes ten minutes to fix the pipes and hands the lawyer a bill for $767.43. “What!” Shouts the lawyer. “You only took ten minutes and you charged $767.43. I’m a lawyer and I don’t charge that much.” The plumber looks at him, smiles, and says, “I used to be a lawyer.”

Of course, my wife didn’t want to go to a hotel because she would have to leave the cats. This makes no sense because they use the litter box as far as I know. More on that later. So we stayed. Scented candles were lit everywhere and the repairman prayer was offered up. “Lord, send me a repairman to remedy this plague that has come upon us. Deliver us from further inconvenience and misery. Spare us from being over charged, and forgive our own incompetence and inability to correct this situation for ourselves. Amen.” My father was an electrician and heard this same plea to the Almighty many times. I was taught it as a child in the hope that I too would become an electrician. Today, I can barely locate the breaker box to flip back on the lights when necessary.

Our saga continues. Naturally, after an hour or so I had to pee. For me this wasn’t a problem, I stepped out on the back porch and with ample aim cleared the porch and numerous potted plants that line the sides and cover the exits. Now to the problem.

My wife had a total knee replacement a few years ago and cannot bend it much. It still hurts and she often has great difficulty walking and stooping. It was late. We went to bed. At around 3 am I heard the call I feared would be coming, “Wes, wake up I have to go to the bathroom.” I knew it would come and I dreaded it.

“Honey, here are your options: 1. Use the kitty litter box. Too bad if the cats object. I don’t care at 3 am. 2. Go outside.”

“No”. She said.

“No to what? The litter box or outside?”

“Both.” Have you ever been put in a spot where you are magically expected to solve a problem for your wife and all of your reasonable solutions are rejected?” I have.

“Honey, what else do you want me to do? I could get one of those mason jars from under the sink but that’s going to leave a mess. So pick.”

Oh, so reluctantly, and because she was so desperate, she said, “Let’s go in the front of the house and I’ll squat while holding onto the front fender of the car. Do you think that will work?”

“Sure.” I lied. You know I lied. Men reading this passage will all say quietly to themselves I would have lied too!

By this time nature and those two glasses of tea I drank began calling to me. It’s a funny thing and perhaps caused by forty seven years of marriage, whatever is on my wife’s mind enters my mind too. If she decides she wants a snack, before I realize it, so do I. If she says let’s turn off the tv and listen to music, that is exactly what I was going to suggest. If her feet get cold, suddenly I realize my feet are freezing too. Is she performing Mr. Spock’s Vulcan Mind Meld technique on me? Is it voodoo? The power of suggestion?

Out we go. We did not dare turn on the porch lights for fear of waking the neighbors. As soon as she squats down holding onto the fender, an overwhelming need to go hits me like a wild pitch. I take a few steps away. In the middle of my most excellent and I might add accurate stream she cries, “Help me. I’m slipping.” Her knee was giving out.

“I can’t help, baby. I’m still going.”

“Help.” She cried pitifully.

I did the Native American rain dance all the way over to her. The one where you hop on one leg and then hop on the other. All the while I am holding my, well, let’s just say I am holding a substantial personal asset. Ok, maybe not exactly substantial, dang it, at least adequate. (My wife made me change the “substantial“ part. I am shamed). As I struggle trying to help her up with one hand, I contend with that asset I mentioned – and none too successfully. It is awkward.

Finally, and after much coaxing and employment of especially descriptive Anglo Saxon verbs, I got her almost up. She slips down. We both give up. It is hopeless. She just sits there on the ground and let’s go. I take a few steps back and so do I. Ah, sweet relief at last. Nirvana. Bliss. Solace. You guys know exactly what I mean.

We start over. I fetch a chair from the house for her to hold onto. She is unable to get up because the knee with the total replacement gives out. I get behind her and start pushing her up. She still has her under britches down around her ankles. I keep pushing, and pushing and she keeps struggling and struggling. I cannot help her up. My offer to call the fire department was sternly rejected. The suggestion to call the neighbor and his two sons met with so fierce a look it could have melted industrial steel.

I got behind her and pushed and pushed once more. I am sweating and grunting. Finally, I say, “If someone comes outside right now they’re going to think we’re out here at 3.30 in the morning having sex in the front yard.” It was so preposterous we both fell out on the ground laughing hard enough to wake the neighbors.

Another try, “Girl, yo butt is so white if a car comes along and shines his lights the driver will go blind.” She turns her head slowly and looks at me and then we fall down laughing again.

I’m thinking what if a cop car on patrol rounds the corner?

Cop -“Ah, sir, sir, what’s going on here?”

Me – “Nothing officer. We’re just checking to see if the grass needs mowing.”

Cop – “Put down that white object and raise your hands slowly.”

Me – “Officer, that’s my wife’s butt.”

Cop – “I said put it down.” He calls for backup.

I return to reality. After more attempts, she makes it upright. Taking no chances I hustle her in the house shutting the door. We clean up, sort of, and make it back to the bed. We settle down. I am almost asleep as she turns over and says to me, “Is my butt really that white?”

I am groggy, tired, and in need of sleep, yet my mind immediately senses the trap she sets.

“Course not. Go to sleep.” I ain’t no fool.

It’s like when your lady asks you, “Do you think I’ve gotten too big for this dress?” Despite the fact the fabric is stretched to its endurance and a button has flown off, only a complete imbecile says yes! “No, baby. Looks great on you.”

The next morning we again prayed for the appearance of a plumber. I was fully prepared to buy some adult depends or a much larger kitty litter box. Whatever it took. I was over the outdoor nature bathroom experience.

He came. He saw. He conquered. The plumbing was fixed. My former life returned. Life is bliss – until the toilet overflows again.

Wes Teel

2 thoughts on “Love, Plumbing Problems, and the True Meaning of Togetherness

    1. Yes, I am sorry to say it is true. My wife has censored and toned down a few areas – which were in my opinion hilarious. But, I wish to stay married and I am not fond of sleeping on the couch. The truth in my house comes at a price. Peace of mind.
      Am reminded of a famous story about President Harry Truman’s wife, Bess. She was once asked didn’t it make her upset when her husband told someone they were full of manure? Her reply, “No. You have no idea how long it too me to get him to say manure!”


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