Friday, August 23, 2002

My Nemisis

Plugged. Clogged. Backed Up.

Somehow I endeavor to be brave in the face of black widow spiders. I manage to find some joy, in spite of wars, famines, child abduction, and mosquito borne illnesses. There is much to fear, and yet I go on trying to make a difference that is good. But, why can't I plunge the toilet effectively? Why do I have overflowing toilet nightmares? Why is my plunging technique futile? And why does a clogged toilet send me in to a tailspin of hapless despair and frustration?

Our plunger is not the wimpy 'decorator' variety; it's built for business. I have had training; Geoff has a method that does the job in a 'one-two and clear!' fashion. He has tried, in vain, to pass his gift on to me. I am writing this after two failed sessions. I began with a confident deep plunge and flush, then I tried the up-down, up-down, up-down jack hammer approach. Nothing. By the second round I stood tearfully over the toilet and begged it not to overflow. "Please. OH! Please, don't overflow." It doesn't always help to say 'please,' but thank God it worked this time. We reached the high water mark, but we have total containment. But, the thing is still plugged and I am distraught.

Clearing a toilet is never pleasant, in fact it is a rather humiliating, private issue. I have certainly never brought the topic in to any public conversations, nor have I written on the subject. I am bolstered by the pointless fact that I 'didn't do it.' It makes a difference whether you are plunging your own or if you are covering for someone else. In the case of clearing a clog for someone else, I think the indignity is profoundly magnified and infuriating. So, when one of the boys cautiously approaches me and asks "What are you doing, mommy?" I answer bitterly and with a wincing, sarcastic snarl "One of you boys has been using too MUCH PAPER!" My rising voice conveys criticism, frustration and a lack of sleep.

Outside the bathroom window is a perfect view of the almost done pool, the green lawn, the three shade trees in front of the playset. A lovely breeze is coming in. The house is nearly clean. Birds are singing. I try to remind myself of the perils and circumstances I am not facing. But clogged toilets are my undoing; I lose all perspective. Next house will have a very deep hole in a corner of the yard.

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