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The Past | The Previous

How to be a Man, Part One

It's ten in the evening. The street is lit by the street lamps, and most of the houses are quiet, dark. It's real quiet, a Tuesday night quiet. In fact, the only thing I can hear is a tap dripping--which is a bit of a bother, since it's my tap.

I try turning it off, but no. Still dripping. Well, nothing that can be done with it now, not having anything on me that could fix it. Instead, I grab a watering can, jam it under the tap, and figure that I'll just water the garden tomorrow with what's there. It's a big watering can. If it wasn't so dark, you could imagine myself feeling quite superior to the situation before me. Tap, I think, you may need a new washer, but I shall make you work for me. Yes, I shall. Use your environment. I should be a survivalist. When I got to bed a few hours later, I can hear it dripping into the bucket still. It sounds a bit heavier, but still, i figure, all good.

Yes.

Well.

Come the morning and the tap is running. Quite freely. Quite gleefully. Oh, it's a cheery tap now. The can is well overflowed and the ground muddy, so I'm left with no choice but to turn the water off. After I do that, I pick up the watering can up, intent to at least do what I said I would. I could still win half the battle, yes? Unfortunately, the can--which is made from plastic--disintegrates the moment I lift it.

In revenge, I kick the tap.

Shortly after, I go back inside, and take a shit. Perhaps this is too much information for you. It most likely is. But it's what happened. I went inside, took a shit--

--and after, came out to turn the water to the house back on. Without the water, you can flush or wash your hands. You cannot do both.

The tap, it laughs at me, gushing water.

After I turn the water off for a second time, I do what every good, intelligent, currently losing to the garden tap man does, and I went up the street to the hardware store. In there, an elderly man who, wearing a swiss army pocket knife on his belt, and a hearing aid, asked if he could help me. I laid out my problem. Quite sympathetically, he said to me, "Well, all you need is a simple washer. What you have to do is get one of these--" he shows me a seven dollar washer set "--and unscrew the top of the tap. Make sure you turn the water off first. You need to have the water off first before you do this."

That won't be a problem, I tell him, and buy the washer.

Back at home I find a wrench, and go out to unscrew the tap. Is it really staring at me with a mean eye? I figure that I have personified it too much. What I really worry about is having to call a plumber, who will, no doubt, charge me the first born of someone who has children just to do what I will do right now. Well, could do. If, like, the wrench didn't completely rip the edges of the tap bolt as I turn it. Soon, the edges become smooth, round circles, something that is not at all conductive to removing a tap head. I kick it again. This time, when I kick it, I twist the pipe it is on and, with images of nights spent breaking into houses to steal children for plumbers, I carefully bend it back into place. I figure, after that, that I will simply remove the tap--fuck it, right? Lets replace the whole thing. So I take it off, get back in my car, and return to the hardware store.

"Did you win against the tap?" the old man asks as I enter.

No, I tell him. I hold up the now removed tap head as proof.

"Your hand is bleeding," he says.

What?

"Your hand."

Indeed, my hand is covered in blood. Somewhere along the line, I ripped the skin of my knuckles.

I can only imagine what the old man is thinking, but mostly, I'm more concerned with what I'm thinking. What the fuck is going on here? How am I losing the battle to change a tap. How did I reach this point in my life? Wouldn't it have been better to call a plumber? I'm bleeding now. My blood is much more precious than the first born of people I don't know.

"Here you go," he says, passing me a brighter tap, somehow more sinister than the one I hold because of it. "Do you have Teflon tape?"

Teflon what?

"Tape. You put it round the tap when you screw it in. Stops leaks."

I don't, and I buy some along with the tap head. On the way back to my car, I think to myself how he could have sold me a shovel, a shotgun, anything really. If he had told me I needed to arm myself for my next encounter with the tap, I would have believed him. I was bleeding, after all. The old tap had defeated me through its age and cunningly traps to stop me from being able to fix it. Who knew what the new one would do?

Well, it turns out, nothing. It went on easily.

The whole thing took me two hours, however.

Which, I think, proves what kind of man I have become.

Comments

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chrisbarnes
Sep. 19th, 2007 01:32 pm (UTC)
Sounds exactly in line with all the plumbing experiences I've ever had. Especially the part where the wrench shreds the retaining bolt into a useless cylinder. I hate it when that happens.

Still, this time it was funny, because it happened to you rather than me. :)
benpeek
Sep. 19th, 2007 01:37 pm (UTC)
it's even kinda funny to me. in that tragic this is my life sort of way.
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Sep. 20th, 2007 01:05 am (UTC)
that sounds like a super fun day, that.
alawston
Sep. 19th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
I am wondering about turning gay, just so there's another man around the house to deal with plumbing.

I'm nothing if not pragmatic.
benpeek
Sep. 20th, 2007 01:05 am (UTC)
be sure to meet one of those manly man, then. me, i'm going to try for a butch lesbian. cause i only know prissy gay men.
exp_err
Sep. 19th, 2007 11:02 pm (UTC)
Good on you for eventually winning.
If you ever lose such a battle, call a handyman rather than a plumber. They're cheaper, and more likely to be prepared to show you what to do so you can do it yourself.
benpeek
Sep. 20th, 2007 01:05 am (UTC)
oh, okay. cool. thanks. i didn't even know there was a dif.
exp_err
Sep. 20th, 2007 01:29 am (UTC)
A plumber needs to have done an apprenticeship and be certified. A handyman is anyone who advertises themself as such. I think that there are some things, in building houses, etc, that only plumbers are allowed to do.
wendy_waring
Sep. 20th, 2007 09:13 am (UTC)
Forget handymen. Cultivate friendships with women who lived through feminism in the seventies. Or women with at least three children. We know how to change washers. In fact, I know how to plumb an entire bathroom. One-handed. With only a swiss army knife in my teeth. (Never mind what I do with the one hand.)

"Without the water, you can flush or wash your hands. You cannot do both."
The reservoir of your toilet would have allowed you a flush, and the remaining water in your pipes would have allowed you to wash hands as well. Just saying, you know, so that when you are out there on the desert island, surviving, you'll have that fact to hand.
benpeek
Sep. 20th, 2007 09:31 am (UTC)
the remaining water from the pipes goes back into the toilet if you flush first...
wendy_waring
Sep. 20th, 2007 09:51 am (UTC)
so you wash first, and then flush. Which leaves you with an empty cistern....

or are you one of those people who must wash after touching any part of a toilet, even the handle. in your own home...?
benpeek
Sep. 20th, 2007 09:52 am (UTC)
i'm one of those people who forgets that the water is turned off.
bodhichitta0
Sep. 20th, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC)
I loved the kicking. Because that really helped. I know it did. :-D
benpeek
Sep. 21st, 2007 04:08 am (UTC)
it totally did.
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