As I may have mentioned here, we had Sink Issues over the holidays. The sink was leaking a few weeks ago, and my wife, under the impression I am a plumber, asked me to fix it. I have no idea why she thinks I can fix plumbing things beyond the most rudimentary chores. Well, no, I know why: because I have fixed less vexing things before. I’ve fixed toilets, for example. They run? I can stop them. They dribble and sing like happy drunken idiots? I can shut their porcelain gobs. Anyone can, but some (ahem) people seem to think that the Gorgon sits inside the tank, and if they remove the lid they will behold its horrible visage and turn to stone. Or porcelain. No, toilets aren’t tough. Sinks are different.
Let me tell you why. I have worn glasses since fourth grade. Over the years my eyes continue to fade. I can still read a teleprompter from across the room. I can read one close-up if I ebeneezer my glasses down my nose and look up. But the middle distance is difficult, and under the entrails of the faucet are precisely where things become indistinct. Plus, it’s dark. And it’s wet. Plus, until a year ago I’d never installed a faucet, so I had no skill set. But when the faucet broke I had no choice. Luckily, my brother-in-law, LeGaulle, had installed many faucets. He even had custom faucet tools. Well then. We spent an afternoon removing the old one, and most of the time was spent lefty-loosening an threaded ring that had been tightened by a contractor who was having marital difficulties and took it out on his work. She thinks I’m lazy. (tighten.) She thinks I should come home right after work. (tighten) She thinks it’s wrong for a guy to have a beer with his buddies once in a while. (tighten) But she (tighten) can go out (tighten) with her friends and SCRAPBOOK (tighten) four nights a week (tighten tighten) and drink wine (tighten) and that’s okay (tighten)
Hey, Carl? I heard the marble crack. I think it’s tight enough.
We made two trips to the hardware store, and I bought a special tool I figured I’d never use again, but it worked. Once we got the ring off the old faucet came up as easily as a dog’s dinner, and the new faucet fitted happily into the hole. It had three nozzle-type-things, hot / cold / spray. I attached them with shiny new threaded-metal hoses, and all was good. The faucet worked.
But. I’d bought the wrong faucet. It was a Price-Pfister, and as the clerk at Home Depot later explained, that was Pfoolish. Within six months it began to leak. I got under the sink, tightened everything. No good. Said LeGaulle: we are coming over for Christmas, I will take a look.
You have to understand the male ego to get the next part. He spent almost an hour under the sink on Christmas, and when he was done the faucet leaked, the base of the faucet leaked, the connectors to the nozzle-type-things leaked, and the faucet itself made the most horrible sound when turned on. You doubt? Behold:
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Good Lord. Of course he was mortified, but that had more to do with wanting to do the right thing, not just stubborn male pride. I’m not saying a Frenchman has stubborn male pride; I’m just saying. He said he’d try again on Christmas after the big meal. He did. Somehow it got worse. He said we’d tackle it the next day, and he was true to his word.
It took almost an hour to remove the ring that held the faucet in place beneath the sink. Everything up there was jammed up and/or jelly tight, and there wasn’t any way to get leverage. But he got it off. Then we came to sorrow: the ring could not be removed from the nozzle-type-things. Oh, one of them slipped off, but the other two were 26 mm wide, and the ring was 25 mm wide.
“How did we do this?” he asked. “How did we get it in?”
I had a theory: the black plastic piece that connected the spray hose had been added after the three nozzle-type-things had been put through the ring. It was not meant to be removed. Ever. What man hath joined let no plumber pull asunder.
“Why don’t you call Steve?” my wife asked. I had considered calling the Giant Swede, but he has his own household to fix on weekends. I said we’d figure it out.
Mind you, this was all about getting the faucet loose so we could begin to discover the source of the leak.
After half an hour of pulling and turning and swearing, I went into Captain Smith mode. “You have done your duty,” I said. “I release you.”
“No, no. There has to be a way.”
“There is, and that’s cut the supply lines and install a new one.”
“No, no, that is like selling a car because the ashtray is full.”
“Well, I’ve done that, too.”
It took some work, but eventually he agreed: we have no choice. I got out the tinsnips, and we cut the lines.
Now we had a useless faucet AND a hole in the counter and an extra threaded-metal water supply tube. (Forgot to mention: somehow we managed to fit two trips to the hardware store in there.)
I bade him farewell with many thanks, went outside to have a small evil cigar. Checked my phone. One message: Giant Swede. Wanted to know if I wanted to go to Home Depot.
So we went to Home Depot; I got a new faucet, a proper one with brass internals, no plastic. He got . . . I don’t know, a concrete-capable nail gun, or something. We ate at McDonald’s because he had to bring home French Fries for his daughter. We watched the news about the terrorist attack on the plane on the big TV over the fireplace. (It’s a nice McDonald’s.) We poured out red ketchup on the blue faces of the characters on the AVATAR placemats and daubed our fries. We spoke of things Men of the World talk about, then I took him home.
It took me twenty minutes to install the new faucet. It is beautiful and works great and it doesn’t leak.
“Great!” said my wife. “Now can you do something about the toilet?”
One more thing – the little picture of the faucet above is from a late 50s ad. Anyone want to hazard a guess about the pop-cultural phenomenon to which the ad refers?
A note – why, this is just the sort of thing you might see in the weekly BleatPlus feature, available in January 2010 to kind folks who donate. Join the popular crowd!
The rest of this week will be hit-and-or-miss; check in tomorrow for an open thread, if all goes well. Have a grand day.
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