Training the toilet


By Marla Boone

Contributing columnist

Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “In the Spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” His Lordship almost got it right. Maybe he got it completely right. What I know for certain is that around here, around now, a middle-aged woman’s fancy turns heavily to thoughts of toilets. Having cast one’s thoughts upon the commodious commode does not inspire love. It inspires crankiness.

I didn’t start out cranky. I started out with a week of scuba diving off the gorgeous island of Cozumel, Mexico. Apparently while I was drifting blissfully below the surface of the water, Mother Nature was wreaking havoc above it and with it. Some sort of catastrophically disruptive weather event was visited upon the eastern portion of the United States. This resulted in, shall we say, irregularities in the airline business. One of those irregularities involved my outgoing flight from Mexico being delayed three hours. Since my connection allowance was two hours I knew right then I was going to be doing the re-scheduling two-step. After spending two and one half hours waiting in line to check in, I a got a seat on a 737 that had braved the elements and had arrived to take me home. Sure enough, the connecting flight had flown the coop.

Charlotte airport, the hub for my airline, was not peaceful. Or restful. Or equipped with any flight that could get me to Dayton within another 24 hours. Since I am basically a very lucky person, I found a room at an airport hotel and spent the night listening to other people departing on their flights. A mere twenty hours late, I got home. My luggage was somewhere between Mexico and Dayton full of moldering dive gear that had been percolating in sea water for six days but I got home. Which is where the toilet comes in. Or, more precisely, went out.

Vacation is great but coming home is nice, too. Except when you step in the door into spreading puddle of liquid that seems to be coming (cue scary music…da…da…DA) from the bathroom. My old friend Dave Brewer posited this eternal verity…the Brewer Corollary on Plumbing: water runs downhill and everything else runs everywhere. My house is small and one of the smallest things about it is the bathrooms. They are tiny, with the toilet stuck back in a corner with about eight inches of space between it and the wall. Anyone who knows me knows I do not have a single dimension that is 8-inches. And, in order to maintain their sleek, streamlined appearance, toilets are manufactured with all the nuts and bolts out of view. Way out of view. The tank had to come off so all those hidden bolts had to be found and unbolted. Sure.

Off I went to the hardware store to find replacement parts for a toilet that is about two generations away from the big water tank hanging precariously overhead. Since you have enjoyed the Brewer Corollary on Plumbing, I will now offer the Boone Secondary Corollary on Plumbing Repair: not only does water run downhill, the parts to stop it on its execrable path are not, no matter what the package says, universal.

The right parts and a plumbing coach showed up on the same day. I assembled everything I could before placing the tank (gently!) back on the toilet. Now all I had to do was squeeze myself between the toilet and the wall with a flashlight, a half inch deep-well socket, and a stack of dry towels. The plumbing coach was very helpful, offering encouraging statements such as, “What ever you do, don’t over-tighten the nuts and crack the tank.” and “Is it still dripping?” (Note to reader: it’s almost always still dripping.)

The gods of plumbing were smiling that day because I got the thing back together and working in one try. The coach did mention that the tank was not perfectly level, but that only a “plumbing freak” would notice.

My plan to remedy the scorn of the plumbing freaks is to keep the dry towels handy, keep the lights in that bathroom dim, and allow only non-plumbing freaks into the house.

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today

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