Sunday, July 18, 2010

Flushed With Trepidation

Once upon a time there was a family (with three small children) who lived in a hundred year old house. It was a lovely little house but, having reached the century mark, age had taken a toll on it. It came to pass that the father of the family decided to replace the toilet. In theory, it would be a simple afternoon job but old houses often hold interesting surprises. When the toilet was pulled it was discovered that the original installer had not used a flange and the wax seal had deteriorated completely thus allowing all manner of...erm...moisture...to permeate the floor boards causing extensive rot. In fact, the rot was so extensive is was a bit of a miracle to realize the toilet was still in place on the second floor and had not crashed through to the kitchen on the first floor.

The dutiful father removed the rotted floorboards only to discover more plumbing of somewhat more than questionable quality. The tub and sink were removed and the floor torn up. New pipes were installed and floor joists and sub-flooring were replaced. The very handy father took his wife to find new linoleum. The wife choose a nice sturdy looking remnant of a discontinued pattern because she wanted to save at least a little money since what should have been a simple toilet replacement had already cost significantly more than expected. The linoleum, however was green, whereas the bathroom walls were blue. "Not to worry," the husband consoled. All the demolition and reconstruction was going to necessitate a fresh coat of paint anyway. The painting would be the wife's job though since the husband doesn't "do paint."

The bathroom was now just four walls, a ceiling, and a sub-floor. All the fixtures had been moved into other rooms. It is also important to note, dear reader, that this was the only true bathroom in the house. There was a toilet in a closet, which had no sink or other running water, so at least that was not an issue. The patient mother had been bathing her wee ones in the kitchen for the couple of days since the project had commenced. The mother was not one opposed to "roughing it." She had dug her own holes during backpacking expeditions. She had gone days without a proper bath or shower during bicycle trips. She was not philosophically opposed to bathing herself in her kitchen except that the one week out of the month was approaching when (ladies, lemme hear a "Hell yeah!") when the thought of taking care of her personal hygiene in the kitchen was just NOT going to be acceptable. She'd have sooner attended to such things in the backyard except for the pesky little notion of public indecency, particularly in a shared yard such as was the current configuration.

The dutiful father was made aware of the increasing urgency of getting the job done. He directed the wife to paint the walls before he installed the linoleum and fixtures, which was all backwards to her way of thinking. She acquiesced when he explained his plan was to have her paint, then he and a friend would install the floor while the patient mother and her brood spent the weekend at her mother's. Upon her return she would have a lovely new bathroom. The patient mother breathed a sigh of relief. What a silly thing to do.

She and her children did enjoy two lovely days at Grammy's. The patient mother slept blissfully as visions of functional plumbing danced in her head. Upon her return she entered the house and ran upstairs to the bathroom to behold...four walls, a ceiling, and a shiny new floor. Oh, and one of the freshly painted walls looked as if the dutiful father had fought off a grizzly attack in the bathroom. He would soon come to wish he could choose between the grizzly and his wife because the grizzly would seem tame by comparison.

"Why are there no fixtures in the bathroom as promised and what in God's name happened to my wall?!" the no longer patient mother roared. The seemingly less than dutiful father stammered through an explanation about how the floor was hard to install than he expected and he kind of scraped the wall just a little...only he noticed that on that wall the paint just peeled off in strips when he touched it so he scratched at it to see what was wrong and more came off. And well, the toilet he bought didn't fit because the house it a hundred years old and the distance of the pipe from the wall wasn't standard. And the sink the mother picked out, yeah, that one that was on sale, well it didn't fit either. The impatient, hormonally charged mother arched one eyebrow and challenged her husband because she understood that when installing a new floor the little pipes needed for a sink can be moved much more easily than the giant pipe for a toilet. The father shuffled his feet and avoided eye contact because yes, this was true but he...umm...erm...well...he forgot to measure. The irate mother was incredulous. "YOU FORGOT TO MEASURE?" The father offered as he squinted and splayed the thumb and pinkie on his hand to demonstrate distance, "Well, I eyeballed it." We shall not record the infuriated mother's response but suffice it to say it was to the father's benefit that no sharp or heavy tools were within reach at the time.

It was also to the father's benefit that at nearly the same time a friend who lived three blocks away called and offered the use of his shower facilities for anyone who needed them since he heard about the plumbing woes of the once happy little family. So in the days it took to strip and repaint a wall, wait for a new toilet to be ordered and delivered and install all the fixtures the restored to sane mother continued to bathe her wee ones in the kitchen each night. In the mornings she walked them to school, they with their school bags and lunchboxes in hand, she with her towel slung over her shoulder and a bucket of toiletries in hand. She kissed and hugged each scrubbed child just before they entered the school. She then continued happily down the street in anticipation of a proper shower.

Many years passed, the family moved to a different house, and the Great Bathroom Catastrophe of 1999 was forgotten until...

Several tiles fell off the shower wall and the father suggested, "I think we should consider redoing the bathroom."

15 comments:

Jazz said...

Oh hell... 'Nuff said.

Cricket said...

Old houses... yep. Gotta love 'em. Age plus years of God-knows done by previous owners. I don't kid myself that any job around mine will be simple, even if it ought to be. Way too many times i've started something up and then... hmmm, that doesn't seem quite right....

There's almost always a good half-hour (at least) of jes' plain thinkin': ok, now that I know what is really under here, what do I do now?

Beach Bum said...

Truthfully, I have done a bunch of "small" home improvement projects but as my wife would say my efforts have usually not made her happy although I got the jobs done. For one project I had to make six trips to the mega-hardware store which I still hear her talk about even after five years.

Since then for the sake of my sanity and family well being we hire someone.

Cocotte said...

I'm never sure which is worse, bathroom or kitchen projects?

Craig said...

Oh, my. . . We have mushy floorboards in the bathroom of our merely 90-year-old house, and I've been slowly working my way up to tearing out and remodeling. . . But you're not helping me here. . .

And I've been saving up a story of toilet re-seating, not sure I wanted to tell it or not, but you're pushing me over the line here. . .

One summer when I was in college, I worked in a hardware store. Every Saturday morning, there would be the line of guys doing home maintenance projects, and the store manager would stand by the checkout, saying "Thanks for shopping with us; we'll be seeing you again soon. . ."

g-man said...

Let your fingers do the walking...

Kat said...

Oh hahahaha!!
That is so funny, only because it sounds almost exactly like what happened to us at our old house. Hehehe!
Great story! And you tell it so well! :)

WizzyTheStick said...

I don't normally make it to the end of long posts. However I read all the way to the end and then I read it again. Hilarious! Hindsight is funny but I bet this was so not a laughing matter at the time!

WizzyTheStick said...

Hey Lime,
How do I lime here? I don't see a flollow button or RSS or Atom thingy....awwww I want to lime here too please

Suldog said...

Although I would truly like to own my own place, one of the pleasures of renting is the handing off of any responsibility for repairs. I'll do the very minor stuff (a little oil for a hinge here, a new duct for the dryer there) but anything having to do with water or electricity gets farmed out to the landlord.

S said...

Be afraid....be very afraid!






PS Having to share just one bathroom with a teen girl sucks.

(M)ary said...

Thanks. I was wondering if I should hire someone to redo my bathroom or do it myself with friends. I have my answer.

cathy said...

"eyeballing" should be one of the deadly sins, or at least fatal.

Mona said...

What a story! I can imagine the horror of it all. The patient mother's patience was really tried!

Jocelyn said...

Really, I think the important part of this story is that YOU chose a poor paint--one that chipped easily.