Years ago I overheard my daughter Janis speaking to a classmate who’s father, she claimed, handled every household plumbing emergency. “What does your father do when a pipe bursts? she asked.
“That depends,” Janis said. “If it’s late at night and he’s tired, he does the backstroke, but he prefers freestyle.” (I think I know where she got her sense of humor.)
I could take the comical inuendos, the back-breaking work and the wet socks if my plumbing efforts were fruitful, but it’s quite frustrating after three strenuous hours trying to eliminate a maddening “CLANG, CLANG, CLANG” water hammer and only succeed in changing it to “KLUNG, KLUNG, KLUNG”.
Once I had to report that my two-hour attempt to resolder a leaking joint was futile. “It’s worse than ever,” I admitted. “I just can’t master a blowtorch.”
“Too bad, Dear, ” my wife soothed. “And you’re surprised you couldn’t fix it.”
“Surprised? Not really. This was my first try with the new blowtorch. Why do you say ‘surprised’ “?
“Well, you look suprised somehow. Oh, now I see why. You’ve lost your eyebrows, Dear.”
The plumber eventually arrives in his Alfa Romeo van (which he richly deserves) and takes command, but it’s a delicate psychological situation, temporarily surrendering control of my castle. It calls for a bit of face-saving. “I’m glad you’re here, but I was able to take some emergency measures and keep things under control,” I say.
“Fine, fine,” he says. “Just direct me to the leaking pipe.”
“It’s on the far basement wall,” I reply . “Be careful when you pass my workbench. There’s a pretty strong undertow there.”