House Full of Zebras, Part 3: Cherchez La Toilet

At the conclusion of our last visit to the Money Pit, I was riding high and sitting pretty. On top of a toilet. Two toilets, in fact. Two new, functional, modern, low-flow toilets that our heroic plumber, Mark, had heroically installed over the summer. The Handsome Husband and Mini-Me and Hoot and I were a three-toilet family again and I couldn’t have been happier.

I was so happy, in fact, that I refused to get all uptight about the wet spots that had started mysteriously appearing on our bedroom floor. To clarify: Our master bedroom is nestled up against the master bath — specifically, the bathtub. The caulking around the bathtub is — to employ the technical term — crap. I can say that, because I’m the one who caulked it. Like, ten years ago. So I — quite understandably — assumed that the shower was leaking through a hole in the caulk and under the drywall and onto our skanky, janky tan carpet, which is full of cat hair and cat barf and cat pee and God only knows what else.

I would get around to re-caulking eventually, I figured. The carpet had seen worse.

Then it occurred to me that the crappy caulk was ten years old but the wet spots were new. And fairly big. It was this precious insight — that maybe the problem was crappy caulk AND a leaking bathtub pipe — that finally led me to call Mark again.

So on the appointed day, Mark appeared at our door, right on schedule. “You can’t get enough of me,” he commented, as I opened the door and the cats scattered.

“We’re setting up the guest room for you,” I replied. “I mean, we might as well.”

Then I explained the situation, ending with a heartfelt, “…but at least I know it’s not the toilet. For a change.”

I think we all know where I’m going with this.

Five minutes later, Mark came out of the bathroom, where he had been dutifully checking things out.

“Your toilet –” he began.

My response can be summed up as follows:

Those were my exact words.

My exact words, in fact.

“…The toilet,” he explained to me, patiently. “The toilet needs to be removed. The drainpipe leading from the toilet has developed a clog, and I need to remove the toilet and snake out the drain. I’ll replace the toilet, of course.”

My response:

The likeness is uncanny.

The likeness is uncanny.

I pulled myself together long enough to ask how long this was likely to take.

“It’s a long job,” he admitted. “Couple of hours, at least. And it’s three o’clock, and I have two other jobs ahead of me…”

And it’s Friday afternoon, I added silently.

“Come back on Tuesday,” I told him. “We can, like, use the bathtub and flush the toilets until then, right?”

His response was an ever-so-encouraging “Welllll…probably.” I took that as the “yes” that it obviously was and shooed him out the door. Then I loaded up the washing machine with a load of fresh laundry, because clog or no clog, we all needed clean socks.

And so it came to pass that a short time later, I was peacefully going about my business when I heard Mini-Me’s frantic voice: “Mom. MOM! MOOOOM!!”

I rushed into the Blue Bathroom, from whence these cries had emerged. There, I was faced with the brand-new Blue Bathroom toilet, roiling like the sea in a hurricane, tossing up great gouts of white suds as, on the other side of the wall, the washing machine went BAM! BAM! BAM!

It seems that Mark hadn’t been exaggerating about the clog.

This is why I drink.

And this is what I drink.

And this is what I drink.

The rest of the story is boring enough. Mark returned on Tuesday, removed the toilet, snaked out the drain — he said that the clog was located a hundred and ten feet out, or nearly at the street, at which point it would have been the county’s problem. He worked in our bathroom for nearly three and a half hours. I haven’t seen the bill yet but I’m sure it’s going to be epic. Mark and his wife will be able to afford a down payment on a lovely retirement property, like this one:

Mark's retirement property

Mark’s retirement property

It’s nice that someone can afford a place like that. As for me, I will turn my face away from our increasingly depressing bank balance toward our THREE fully functional toilets. And I will take comfort and pride in knowing that our days of emergency toilet repair are at an end for the time being. Indeed, we have no toilets left to replace.

Even if there are still wet spots on the bedroom floor. And they’re not getting any smaller.