Monday, January 23, 2012

I Want to be a Plumber

    The kitchen faucet broke. It was literally spraying everywhere like the fountain of youth. But I didn't want to take a shower in my kitchen, (since the neighbors could see me through the window) so I shut the water off. Cade's been so busy at work, I knew he wouldn't be home forever. And the last thing the poor guy wanted to do was fix the faucet. That's when I decided to fix the stupid thing myself.
   No one believes that I can do these things, not really. Salesmen in the store are THE WORST.
    This whole thing reminded me of last February; I kept seeing cute recipes on everyone's blogs. I felt bad for not having one of my own. So I contributed something that's more my style.  It wasn't how to cook quiche or how to create a perfect potato soup.  Instead it was: How to make a spud gun, so I could have a weapon to fend off predators! I know it might not seem convenient, but can you imagine breaking into someone's house, only to get filled with potatoes--not a pretty picture!


(Yes this is me trying to be silly--after all, how often do you see someone all made up--with a spud gun?!)

    Anyway, if you'd like to make your own potato launcher, go here (to my recipe): Spud Fun

    Back to the point, I had to fix my faucet. I went to the store and asked a nice man where the basin wrenches and water supply tubes were.
    "What are you gonna do with those?" he asked like I might bake a cake, right there in the store. "I hope you have a nice, strong man to help you."
    "I'M going to replace my faucet." I smiled sweetly, almost wanting to curtsy and then slap him with the hoses he'd helped me find.
    "Oh, ma'am. That's man's work."
    His words AND TONE made me angry, but I wouldn't be rude--not really. "Well, I can work just as good as any man." I looked him up and down, obviously judging him. He stood well over my height.
    "But you're so skinny, and small."
    Thanks for stating the obvious, buddy. He was a bigot, but you didn't see me pointing out HIS flaws. "You'd be surprised what women can do. I used to be a diesel mechanic. Some of the men would ask me for help with things because I could fit places they couldn't. I didn't care if I bruised my fingers and hands because things were so hard to tighten. I made good money to support my daughter and that's all there was to it. You do what you have to, Sir."
    "It still ain't woman's work." He looked at my boobs, like a pig in heat!
    I could have said so many rude things. How I pushed five babies out and that earned me the right to try fixing my own damn faucet. I wanted to ask if he's ever seen real pain or experienced it. Had he ever had to do whatever it took, just to make a dime and live decent so your kids could see the next day. But I already knew his answer--he was no oracle. So, I left because I had no idea what he thought earned one the right to fix their faucet--other than being male.
    After that I vowed to do the best job replacing my sink--for every woman who's had to fix something and then felt put down by men! I kept picturing that guy's mug-shaped face! I'd show him.
    I turned my radio to oldies, because my daddy always listens to oldies when he fixes things. Those two go hand-in-hand. I knew, without oldies blaring beside me, I'd be nothing--I wasn't sure why, I just knew.
    I pulled up YouTube and watched a few videos about installing faucets. One by "Eye Handy" almost killed me. In another video, the woman wore a string bikini--AND PUT THE FAUCET IN WRONG. She forgot the plumber's putty--talk about a leaky faucet. That was the sexiest install--EVER--though. 
    But did I really need to almost be naked to install my faucet? I didn't think so! That's when I watched a Lowe's video.
    The guy made it sound far too simple. "Then you just disconnect the water supply, do this and this, and you're done."
    Wow, I knew they'd taken bits out of the video to save time, but if I was as cool as the guy on camera, I could replace my sink in under two minutes, right? WRONG!
    While I worked on my faucet, the kids learned a whole new language.  Was that worth the effort--HELL yes it was--I was sticking it to the man. I cursed the guy from Lowe's and his simple, this-is-so-easy dialogue!  
    I took apart the pipes leading from the garbage disposal because I had no room to move before that. At one point a bolt fell on my cheek and unfortunately the Zombie Elf learned the word "shitballs." 
    "Get him out of here. This is no place for children," I told the Scribe.
    "But this is our kitchen?" she said.
    "Not now it isn't.  This is a war zone!"  
    It wasn't until Doctor Jones turned the dish washer on--and excess water flew into my face--that I thought I might die.
    Although, I felt like giving up, I refused. My baby waved to me. "Ma. Ma. Wa. Wa."  She giggled although it WAS NOT funny.
    That's when I heard the music. "Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie," I sang as the gushing water slowed and left me in a pool of yuck. "Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry. Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey in Rye. Singin' this'll be the day that I die."  And I really thought I might die.  I've never hated the dish washer quite so much.
    I was in the midst of a war, fighting injustice, trying to be strong. And those words about death and cars--they suddenly gave me strength. I understood then, why my daddy listens to oldies. They're a necessary part to fixing things; they give you hope and light in an otherwise bleak world.
    Bruises covered my hands, especially my left hand since I ended up using a regular wrench and it hurt trying to tighten it like I must.
I finally stood from the sink, bent one last time to make sure it looked good and smiled.
    All the kids were back in the kitchen.  "Mama did it," they sang my praises, like I'd become Selena Gomez!  I felt amazing and capable!  I was their hero.
    "What's the big deal?" the Scribe said.  "All mothers do this kind of thing.  You do what you have to."
    I just looked at her and smiled.  That's my girl, I thought.  She's going to accomplish great things and no one will hold her back. 
    "The sink looks great, but there is one problem," the Hippie said.
    "What?" my heart nearly stopped.  
    "I can see your butt crack," the Hippie said.
    "Oh, that?  That's fine, Honey. That means I'm a certified plumber now. Plus, some people work in their bikinis."
    I touched the faucet, so proud, until I realized I put the thing in backwards! The nobs turned the wrong direction. The hot water felt awfully cold. The cold streamed burning hot! 
    I gasped.  They'd made it wrong! Well, not really, but that was a fun thought--for two seconds.

    I did get it fixed, all the while hoping Cade would be proud. "You have a good day?" he asked, greasy from fixing a rig at work. I love that he works construction, and that I didn't marry a pansy.
    I pulled up my pants and spit into the snow. "I fixed the sink. I know some people think it's man's work, but maybe it isn't. At least that's one less thing you need to do."  I realized then, it didn't matter what anyone said; I'd fixed the thing so Cade would be proud.
    It wasn't until he tried the sink that the cold water started leaking underneath. I hid it quite nicely, shoving a bowl under it and smiling so Cade would hopefully look at me and not the sink.
    "You got a leak there," he said. "But it's a small one. I'm real proud of you.  One tiny leak, we can fix that easy."
    I can't hide anything from him; we talk and he practically peers into my soul. Why had it started leaking, though? I racked my brain, thinking of anything, the washers, the supply hoses.  WE wouldn't fix it, I would.  Then, the problem hit me.
    "I meant for it to be like that. The other supply hose I got . . . was too small . . . but I figured I could fix it later . . . a tiny leak is nothing; that's better than no faucet at all.  I can run to the store tomorrow."  (And tell the mug-faced jerk--politely--how I'd installed it myself.)
    So, that is my project for today. It's not as cool as a spud gun, but it's far more useful. 
    I HAVE to fix that sink, and prove certain bigots wrong.  Women can do amazing things--anyone can if they put their minds to it.
    Plus, plumbing isn't just for men or women in bikinis--it's just not!

    When your husband isn't around to fix things, do you take matters into your own hands? Do you fix things in your bikini since it seems to be all the rage?