These last few months have taught Mike Todd that “forays into amateur plumbing tend to achieve the same kind of results you might expect from forays into amateur neurosurgery.”

by Mike Todd

“It’s not your fault,” the plumber said, as a piece of soggy drywall swung loose from our ceiling and plopped into the carpeted puddle behind him.

“Can we go upstairs and have you say that again, in front of my wife?” I asked. Her assessment of the situation hadn’t come out quite so clearly in my favor.

Of course, she had some recent precedent upon which to suspect some level of spousal culpability. The regular reader(s) of this column may recall that I recently converted our house into a historical landmark, taking it back to a time before functional indoor plumbing existed, simply by taking a hacksaw to our pipes and (this part is important, in case you’re thinking of trying it in your own home) being totally unable to fix anything. I’m still waiting for the blue historical marker to appear in front of our house.

“On this site in 2018, a homeowner did battle with a leaky water valve. The valve employed a cunning strategy of cutting off the home’s access to potable water, setting the occupants back 200 years, while also sowing internal discord. Victory for the valve seemed assured, until the homeowner called in professional reinforcements, who restored the home to the modern day.”

Those professional reinforcements ended up costing a few hundred dollars, which didn’t satisfy the cruel universe. Our karmic debt had not been paid, probably because of that time I let a receipt blow across the parking lot instead of trying to stomp on it.

“I know it didn’t go well last time, but I can totally fix it THIS time,” I said a couple weeks later, when our kitchen sink clogged.

“Maybe we should just call a plumber before you start taking things apart,” my wife, Kara, suggested.

“Psssh, what a waste of money,” I said, in a statement that wouldn’t become ironic until later.

The next day, as our dishwasher ran, I pointed with pride to the kitchen sink, which was no longer filling up with water. “See? I just had to snake out the drain,” I said, triumphant.

That night, when I took my triumphant self downstairs to exercise, my triumphant foot splooshed into the carpet. A carpet that goes “sploosh” is never a good thing.

“Oh, no,” I said, taking a deep breath before looking up.

These last few months have taught me that forays into amateur plumbing tend to achieve the same kind of results you might expect from forays into amateur neurosurgery. Anyone can bust in there and give it a whirl, but you might not love the outcome.

Water dripped from our recessed lights into two puddles on the floor. Across the ceiling, the drywall sagged under the weight of the water I’d successfully stopped from clogging up our kitchen sink.

“It’s not your fault. I can hear the pipe whistling. It must have a hole in it,” the plumber said the next day, exonerating me as he peered into the gaping hole he’d just ripped in the ceiling.

As it turns out, I most likely put that hole there back in 2009 with my trusty drill, when my dad and I were installing the garbage disposal. But let’s not get hung up on minor details. A professional said it wasn’t my fault before he had all the facts, so it clearly wasn’t my fault. At least not in 2018, and the statute of limitations ran out long ago for anything I did back in 2009.

That hole wasn’t a problem until I pushed the clog past it with the drain snake. Then, when the water backed up, it had nowhere else to go. Physics and gravity took care of the rest. So really, they are the true culprits, I think everyone can agree. Well, everyone except Kara.

You can practice amateur neurosurgery with Mike Todd at mikectodd@gmail.com.

...