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That Girl’s Got a Set of Pipes!

When my bathroom sink clogged, I approached it as I do most life crises. I doused the thing in Drano and hoped for the best.  When the now-fluorescent waters remained several hours later, I knew I was in for a ride.

I’ve never had much luck with water pressure. (Or men.) (And wouldn’t that be a great first line to a novel?) I grew up on a farm. We were fed our water from a spring across the road. I spent many a summer day padding barefoot through the dark, musty springhouse and feeling girlishly apprehensive about the silt settled at the bottom of our water tanks. I spent many a summer night standing impatiently under a dribbling shower waiting for enough precipitation to clean my dusty feet.

My nervousness about country water was only furthered by what happened many years ago, while I was away at summer camp. I was told all this later, but it’s never left my consciousness and serves both to prove our family’s rurality and my father’s age.  One year — I imagine in early June, when the grass was still cool in the mornings and the snakes hadn’t yet come down the mountains — my mother noticed that our water tasted funny. She mentioned it to my father, who flagrantly brushed aside this comment, along with others like ‘We should get a lock for the front door’ and ‘I’m not sure spinach quiche is supposed to have mandarin oranges in it.’

A few weeks later, she found the water tasted more strongly. Not bad, exactly, just off. Maybe a little metallic? Maybe it was cloudier than usual? Again, a pooh-pooh from the peanut gallery. A few weeks more, and my father comes into the living room and asks my mother if the water seems funny. They investigated and found a large (dead, bloated, rotting) salamander stuck in the water pipe. My parents had been drinking dead-amphibian water for nearly two months. They had, literally, lizard in their gizzards.

This is what runs through my head as I stand over my white sink in Queens, willing the drain to suck. I pray for the underwater tornado to appear. I fret, I wring my hands, I read the back of the Drano bottle obsessively.

Eventually, I call my mother.

“Hey, sugar, how are things in the big city?”


“Don’t worry. You’re a tough country girl, you can fight off whatever’s bothering you.”

“It’s more of an unseen enemy.”

“Well there’s always MeeMaw’s old cure-all.”

“Which is?”

“Give it a good slug of bleach. That’ll fix anything.”

And that’s exactly what I did. I poured half a bottle of bleach into the bright green ooze in my porcelain sink and closed the door so the cat couldn’t get anywhere near the muck. Two hours later, I donned goggles (to help my eyes with the burn) and a swim cap (can’t hurt to put another layer around my brain, I figured) and entered the chlorine sauna.

Lo and behold, the water was gone.  I’d eliminated yet another problem and filled in the gap with a small sense of loneliness. I found myself quieted again —  just a city girl, standing in a bathroom.


  • molly

    August 18, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I would just like to include as a hilarious aside the following commentary from my father after he read this post:

    “While all plumbing may seem the same, you are mixing two different systems in your blog. The clogged drain is a problem in the outlet system, the pipes that drain wastewater from the house. The salamander was a problem in the intake system, the pipe the brings water into the house. The bleach dissolved the mass of hair and other organic crap that was caught in the trap below the sink. The trap is the curvy thing that’s easily taken apart with the tools your father has provided you.

    The water pressure issue that you mention in your shower is, I think, mostly related to the engineered flow constriction required on shower heads by water-conservation regulations promulgated by the EPA. Same with 2.5 gallon flush toilets, rather than the old 5 gallon flushers.

    Other than that kudos for self-sufficiency.”

  • 22 inch car rims

    August 19, 2010 at 1:53 am

    wats up man hows it going

  • mode20100

    August 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    A+ would read again

  • custom car rims

    September 15, 2010 at 2:46 am


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