September 19th, 2007


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.



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.


"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.
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