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Just go with the flow

Monday reminded me that a few years back, we had an unexpected “issue” derail our Memorial Day plans. It started out as a little gurgle and ended up as the sound of impending doom. But before you read any further, Gentle Readers, let me warn you: This column contains potty talk and an occasional phrase of downright dirty gutter language. Proceed with caution.

So yes, that’s what greeted us that fateful Monday morning — a puddle here, a piddle there, and “stuff” coming out of drains. I got towels and did what I could to rectify the situation. All the while I was careful to say as little as possible to my husband. That’s because I, like most wives, know that holiday-turned-home-repair days aren’t the best time to make conversation. No, this was definitely a time to keep unnecessary comments (i.e. I told you something was wrong) to a minimum. So, I offered what I could — disposable gloves — and made sure my husband could see the sympathy in my eyes.

“Thanks,” he replied, trying to figure out which finger was for his thumb. Then, fortified with the knowledge he had my undying appreciation, he made his way outside to assess the situation.

Fortunately, Son No. 2 (who just happens to be married to the daughter of a master plumber) arrived about that time. Because of his vast experience with plungers and four commode-clogging siblings, he knew exactly what to do. He called his father-in-law.

The diagnosis was made, and a do-it-yourself fix was within reach if they could just get their hands on some sort of twisting, winding magical thing called a snake. This was Memorial Day, however, and a suitable snake might be hard to find. Maybe that’s why my husband felt inclined to put the entire state of affairs in proper perspective before they headed out on their hunt.

“Well, just remember it’s your pipes I’m fixing,” he called over his shoulder, with no hint of regret.    

My pipes? Suddenly they’re my pipes?

But I had clothes to wash and other duties to attend to that require proper pipe flow, so I ignored the possessive pronoun misuse and pushed both would-be plumbers out the door. I hardly had time to barricade the bathrooms, though, before they were back from the hardware store with a magical snake they had secured for a very reasonable $35. So what if it’s a $5 piece of plastic from China? We’re talking sewage here, people. And besides that, the clerk threw in a joke about the project going down well at no extra charge.

Armed with the snake, father and son then walked around like heart surgeons — gloves on, tools in hand — intent on finding the blockage. The operation eventually required them to climb to a vent on the roof to take care of business. That meant ladders were added to the drama. Ladders, in case you don’t know, are the international symbol of everything that’s wrong with holiday-turned-home-repair days.

The good news is whatever they used those ladders to reach got them to where the problem was. The snake did something that resulted in noises much louder and more serious sounding than the original early morning gurglings. All of a sudden, stuff started going down our drains instead of coming out of them. Eureka.

It was a beautiful sight.

(Well, not really).

All was right with the world again.

(Except I’d have to wash those puddle and piddle towels.)

Our son says there’s no way to know what caused the backup. “Thirteen years with no plumbing issues is pretty good,” he pointed out. We decided to take his advice and be thankful for the half of a holiday we had left.

After all, sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com. Follow her on twitter at @kimhenderson319.