A manly exertion of manliness

I am the editor of a school newspaper, and in between problem-solving and growing white hair, I get to write humor columns, which completely makes up for having to write real journalism.

Within a matter of several minutes, our upstairs bathroom and hallway were flooded with enough water to make the Indian Ocean look like a Taco Bell parking lot after a light drizzle. Somehow—I assume Iraqi Bathroom Terrorists had something to do with it—our toilet exploded, sending out waves of water large enough to surf.

Toilets are strange devices. They often gurgle and sputter, usually because something is wrong with its “flapper.” Over the years, my mom has tried to teach me the finer points of toilet mechanics. She’ll take me aside, lift the lid to the tank, and point to something making sounds you would expect to hear coming from a musk ox after it had been shot with high-caliber artillery fire.

“This is the flapper,” she’ll say, pointing at some obscure object in the tank. “If this is not fit right, the entire toilet will cease to function and we’ll have to go to the bathroom in the yard.”
Then, by way of demonstration, she sticks her entire arm down in the disgusting, festering toilet water. She insists that the water inside the tank is perfectly clean, but it is difficult to trust someone who routinely dunks their arms in toilets.

Of course, most of you are probably laughing at me by now. “Ha, ha!” you’re saying. “How can you call yourself a man and not know something as basic as rudimentary toilet mechanics?”

Shut up or I’ll kick your shins. No, sorry—what I meant to say was that I know I’m not a very mechanically-inclined person, as opposed to some guys who think a fun day at the park involves taking things apart, or building things, or taking apart the things they just built. These are the same people who walk into a hardware store completely drenched in motor oil and demand to know where the “sprockets” are located.

I am not that kind of person. The only thing mechanical I know how to do is program the VCR, a concept that completely eludes my parents.

In my mind, knowing how to record shows on the VCR completely made up for the fact that I have absolutely no other practical skills. People would boast about how they successfully built a new transmission for their car from scratch; I would casually approach them and tell them that while a transmission was fine, it could not, for example, record Alias.

The only time I have ever had to use mechanical skills was this one time in Boy Scouts. We were all instructed to build “bridges” out of balsa wood, which is this semi-wood-like substance that has the all the flair and architectural strength of dry rot.

Yet we still had to build these bridges. Our leader kept pressing upon us that glue—which was the only thing we were allowed to use to fasten the balsa—wasn’t, actually, the best way to fasten the balsa. To this day, I do not understand this concept, since glue, when used in large enough quantities, can be used to deflect machine-gun fire. However, when it is molecularly bonded to balsa, it apparently becomes a brittle shell of its former self and shatters when any amount of force is applied to it.

While other Scouts were building bridges that looked like they had hired a full-time construction firm to design, finance, and test, mine looked like a bridge straight from the Cheesy Props Department at an old Godzilla film.

When it came time to test the bridges—which is done by essentially applying thousands of pounds of weight until they snap—everyone’s did exceptionally well, except for mine, which was destroyed almost as soon as I carried it into the room.

My point is that mechanics has never been my strong suit. This is why the second floor of my house was almost completely submerged when a pipe broke in the back of one of the toilets (which, if you’ll remember, is what we were talking about at the beginning of this column).
I didn’t figure it out until it had been spewing water for a good three minutes, at which point everything was basically underwater. I was the only one upstairs at the time, so the problem was left All Up to Me.

Any other guy would have probably done something manly. Another guy would have taken random things around the bathroom—toothbrushes, sponges, wads of hair clogged up in the sink drain—and used them to create, MacGyver-like, some sort of mechanical device with which to fix the pipe, somehow getting motor oil all over himself in the process.

I did not do that. I called for my mom, who solved the problem with the simplicity it would have taken if she were merely asked the date. But at least I didn’t have to stick my hand in the tank.

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One Response

  1. Wuss. 🙂

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