It's not about the house.

Monday, August 4, 2008

An Angry Fix

I forgot to take any pictures while I was doing it, because I did it on a wild hair in the middle of my workout yesterday morning, when I had to pee and forgot about the yucko toilet and got all pissed (heh heh, pee/pissed – get it?) when I had to lift the half-pound lid after doing 75 pushups in a row. Okay, 74. And not exactly in a row. But still...

I fixed the toilet!

See, before I started my workout I’d asked Johnny to find WD40. When I was on the stairmaster, he brought it up from the basement and put it down in the middle of the bathroom floor. So when I took a pee break and got brassed off by the broken bowl (brassed off, get it? Cuz the toilet-flusher handle’s made of brass? Hoo, boy, am I on a roll this morning!), the can was right there, saying to me “What? I should have to do everything myself?” (WD40 is, apparently, an old Jewish man. Who knew?). So I pulled up my sweaty workout pants, picked up old WD40stein, and aimed him at the corroded lip on the flusher-handle.


Okay, okay, I thought. Don’t panic. Make sure you got it alllll the way around. It does no good for 75% of it to be free, if the under-part is still stuck fast. Got it all now? Are you sure? All right, then.


Damn. I’m going to have to take the cover off the tank.


It was all I could do to place it gently, instead of dropping it from chest-height onto the tile floor. Then I put the lid down and sat on it, straddling and facing backwards, while I set to spraying WD40stein on every non-submerged piece of the flusher assembly. The water in the tank now had an Exxon Valdez sheen, but still…



The next step was going to be to loosen the big nut that holds the flusher-handle to the side of the tank, but my own personal pair of pliers that I keep hidden in my bedside table drawer went missing ages ago (the ones with the red handles, have you seen them?). And Johnny left his bucket-boss with all his tools in it over at Gerry’s house the last time he worked there, so I had to search high and low for a pair of needle-nose pliers that might do the job. Correction: Johnny had to search high and low, while I retched over what I was about to do, and kvetched about what had happened to my pliers, goddammit? He brought me the needlenose and ran away. I loosened the bolt.



So I put the bolt back on.

Now I was going to have to take that other screw out. The one that holds the lift arm to the handle. (“Lift arm,” do you like that? I had to look it up. Apparently the flusher-handle thing is really called the “trip lever.” Who cares?). And now my girlie screwdriver was missing, too! I was marching around the house like an angry bear by this time. A sweating, stinking, gagging, angry bear. Grr!

Johnny! I need a screwdriver! And my girlie one is missing! Never mind! I’ll just use a butter knife! And then I’ll run it through the dishwasher with a load of Tang! And then I’ll stab you with it! And then I’ll jam it in the breaker box and burn the AssVac down! Grr!”

I got the screw out with the butter knife, and…


Then – oh, you’re not going to believe this one – while I was trying to put the screw back in with the butter knife, I dropped it in the tank. Not the knife, the screw. Which meant I had to get it. Because honestly, if it had been the knife that I’d dropped in the tank, I would have left it. Even if Johnny hadn’t come in just then with a phillips-head, which looked to be much easier to use than a butter knife. But before I could test that theory I had to go elbow-deep in the cold — Gag — rusty — Gag — tank water to — Gag — retrieve the stupid — Gag —  Gag — screw.

Got it.

Excuse me.

— Gag —— Gag —— Gag —— Gag —

So I put the screw back on.

And right about here is where I realized that in order to try the last thing I could think of to possibly try – i.e., taking the handle itself off its little mount-back (which is not to be confused with a mountebank, although I’ve no idea just what a mountebank is. No, really, I don’t. And I don’t pretend to, either.) – I would have to re-remove both the screw and the bolt that I'd already removed once and put back on.

I believe this might be where I first used the word “Golly!”

So I did it. I retook ’em both re-off, careful not to — Gag — drop either in the tank, then I took out the handle-thing completely. Lubed the hell out of it with Mr. 40stein. And commenced to wiggle it between my fists.


Wiggle. Wiggle.

Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle.

There. It moved.

Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Etc. (see above)

It came off.

(Oh, my god. I just realized this is sounding kind of porny. Well, I didn’t mean it that way. And why are your minds going in that direction, anyway? Shame on you people. Let’s get back to corroded-toilet talk already, shall we?)

Once the handle-thinger was in two – and once I confirmed that it was, in fact, intended to come in two – I could see the problem.

It was, ahem, corroded.


No, what I mean is, there was a little tab-slot thing that controls how far the handle’s allowed to move, and the tab part was so corroded that it filled up the entire slot so that it couldn’t move at all. I squirted Mr. Stein in there a few more times, but he said he was tired and had done enough work for the day.

Every year for all our lives together, Johnny has refused to throw away a toothbrush. “Old ones are good for things!’ he cries, and squirrels them away. What they’re good for, exactly, I never know, because I’m not the kind of person who scrubs grout or unclogs showerheads; I usually just squirt bleach on things and walk away. But if Mr. Stein couldn’t get SeƱor Flush to shed his inhibitions, I didn’t see what good Ms. Chlorine was going to do. And since Herr Brillo Pad seemed a bit too harsh for the brass finish, I decided Monsieur Brush would have to do.

“Johnny?” I'm feeling a little nicer now that I can see the solution. “Have you got an old toothbrush handy?”

“No,” says he. “I don’t. In fact, I think I left my new one at Gerry’s beach house last week, so I’m using the one that I just put away.”

We’re not going to think about what he means by “put away.” And we're not going to worry about why he hasn't bought a new one yet, or asked me to pick one up. Those are all good questions, but for now we’re just going to concentrate on the fact that, when I actually want an old toothbrush for the first time in my entire freaking life, for the first time in his life he doesn’t have one.

“What are you trying to do?” he asks me.

“I’m trying to do something I need an old toothbrush for.”

Grr. Again.

So instead I scrubbed the flusher-handle with an old rag and my fingernail. It took a while, but I got it clean. Well, close enough for jazz. I put it the whole thing back together, and it works!

Don’t believe me? Watch!

It didn't happen that time, so I want credit for admitting it, but it does still stick on the downbeat once in a while. Sometimes you do still have to give it an upward tug. But it works! I don’t have to stare into my own void anymore!

And it’s a good thing, too, because Johnny decided to clean the other john that afternoon, so I wouldn't have wanted to go in there. Because "cleaning the bathroom" is a task he defines as “squirt bleach on everything and walk away.”

Now I ask you: who would do a crazy thing like that?

In case you’re wondering: yes. I did finish working out after all this. Aren’t you proud of me? I also vacuumed the entire house, and adjusted the kitchen cabinet doors that have been knocking together and making me a little nuts. For that last task, I used my girlie screwdriver. Which, um, turned out to have been in the bedside table all along. But my pliers are really missing, dammit! Seriously, the ones with the red handles: have any of you folks seen them anywhere?

Ooh and here, look. Turns out you can still sort of see where the corrosion was that caused the problem. See?



su said...

Mommy Dearest suggestion.. Keep the WD in the bathroom and give it a whack inside and out every week or so....

amanda said...

I just love that you have a post label for 'toilet'. With several entries (yes, I checked).

EGE said...

Wow, seven! Even I didn't realize there had been that many. Or that few, depending on how you think about it. I have been at this for eighteen months, now, after all.

David said...

Coating the moving parts with some vaseline would have protected them from the corrosion-causing water as well as lubricated them.

For next time....