|Yes, those are pipes.|
When I turned 40, I said to my mother, “I’m too old for this shit. I’ll hire a plumber.”
What I referred to was hooking up the water pipes for the summer cottage. Each winter, we turned the water off and drained the pipes. Then, each spring, we reversed the process.
It was a laborious task. Not really, but I followed my father’s lead where he slithered on his back to go under the house, fighting cobwebs, spiders, squirrels and strange things with huge teeth and wings lurking underneath the leaves caught in the crawlspace. Dad turned knobs to allow the water from our well into the house, accompanied by his historic screams of “Sonuvabitch! Shit!”
Dad reached the breaking point while I was in my thirties. He was overweight and had gout, “The wealthy man’s disease,” as he repeatedly said.
“I’m in good stead: Alexander the Great, Beethoven, Charlemagne, Grover Cleveland,” he recited. “Columbus, da Vinci, Darwin, Daniel Defoe, Dickens, Gallileo, King George, Alexander Hamilton, Michelangelo, Nostradamus, Taft and Queen Victoria.”
“And your point being?” I snottily responded.
“It’s about time you go underneath the house and turn the goddamn water on,” he said, indicating the crawlspace with his cane.
Disgusted, I got on my back and slithered underneath, listening to my father’s advice hollered like a back-seat driver.
“What the hell are you doing?” he shrieked after a few minutes of my silence, encouraging my response for once.
“I’m picking ticks out of my hair,” I said.
“Just reach up and turn the handle counterclockwise.”
“Which way is that?” Counterclockwise only makes sense if there’s a proper direction. I felt discombobulated. Seconds later, I heard the strangled bellow of a wounded buffalo.
“Just do what you want,” he sighed in resignation.
This became an annual family tradition along with others that included taking the dog for a walk and eating jalapeño peppers mixed into my eggs for breakfast. And people wonder why I’ve issues.
After my father died, I hired plumbers. What a mistake! Within three years, I had over five miles of copper piping under the house. Pipes criss-crossed underneath like a massive ganglia network, three-quarters non-functional after each successive plumber. I must’ve subsidized at least 20 plumbers in the county and contributed to rampant alcoholism.
Fifteen years later, I decided to take over the reins again. I had no choice since I no longer had funds to subsidize drunken binges each spring from the proceeds of new copper pipes. Things got sketchy when pipes randomly burst and I found myself at a loss.
That’s when I discovered the HANDYMAN.
From fifteen years of experience, I learned the trade secret: you can only hire the handyman for one project and one alone. Because that’s the project where they will shine - any successive project things’ll only get worse and worse and before you know it, you’ll have five miles of non-functional PVC piping lining the underside of your cottage as the copper pipes were already stolen.
Each year, I hire a new handyman for a pittance to help me turn on the water. It’s always drama and my patience is always tested.
But, I learned how to roll with the punches. This year, I’ve been fortunate. Only the toilet doesn’t work.
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