10 Reasons Why the Texas Heat Can Lead to a Psychotic Break

10 Reasons Texas Heat

 

1. The inability to carry on a conversation.

It’s hard to concentrate when your eyeballs are sizzling in your skull. The neurons in your brain are overheating, your body is switching to basic primal functions, and all extraneous activities, such as politeness or concern for your fellow man, are being terminated. And it’s usually right then that your beloved significant other attempts to launch a pointless conversation about nothing.

This is not the time for that, sweetie. I love you, and I want nothing more out of life than for you to be happy. Except when the temperature exceeds one hundred degrees. Then we enter a special phase of our relationship, a point where we have a conditional form of emotional etiquette. Don’t ask me where I want to eat lunch or who I think is going to get kicked off of Survivor this week. I’m not the tiniest bit interested in that. I’m focused on trying to breathe.

And don’t get all cranky, just because you think I don’t care about anything you might have to say right now. I am not ignoring you. I am choosing to have priorities, and you just don’t happen to be one of them right now. When it cools off, or the sun finally explodes, I will be more than happy to have a discussion. Until then, don’t jeopardize your life by asking if the new paint for the guest bedroom should be Zanzibar Sunset or Tuscan Potato.

 

2. Touching anything metal while outside leads to a flesh wound.

There’s nothing quite like the immobilizing pain you can experience by strolling out onto the veranda of the latest hip bistro, and then lowering yourself into one of the expensive, trendy deck chairs. That smell in the air? It’s not the soup of the day. It’s the charred skin peeling off your body. Be sure to order an extra margarita, because when you eventually stand back up, part of you won’t. And it will hurt.

And good luck getting into your car and driving home. First, you’ve got to find the vehicle in the parking lot. This is tricky enough in Dallas, where everyone buys the same kind of car, and you end up with 47 yellow Hummers lined up like you just wandered into a car dealership. Now add in the cooking asphalt, which is sending up those weird waves of shimmery gases that distort your vision. Now you can’t see squat, feeling like you’re trapped in a Federico Fellini movie, where voices fade in and out while bizarre things happen involving clowns and subtitles.

Once you finally locate your car, do not touch the exterior of the vehicle without wearing protective gloves. Otherwise, your hand will liquefy, making the operation of the vehicle a little more difficult. When you finally manage to get the door open, do not immediately jump inside or you will instantly vaporize. Let some of the demon heat escape. If possible, pay random passersby to climb in first and report back when the atmosphere has stabilized.

When you receive access clearance, the first thing you need to do is turn the AC all the way up. Yes, this means there will be a few minutes of a blast furnace burning all your hair off, but it’s just the price you have to pay. You’ve got to get that puppy working full strength or you are going to die. Once your nose hairs stop popping and crackling, put that thing in gear and drive to Canada.

 

3. The miserable air pollution gets even worse.

It’s already an established fact that the air quality in the DFW area is full of major suckage. Thousands of 18-wheelers are lumbering around, hauling cargo to all the Wal-Marts, so we can rush in and buy pointless things that we don’t really need. And of course, it’s a state law that everyone must drive huge 2-ton pick-up trucks or SUV’s, belching exhaust like the floodgates are open at Hoover Dam. Poisonous fumes fill the sky. The state bird really should be an asthmatic vulture.

So when you add in the triple-digit heat, the simple act of walking out your front door becomes an ill-considered act of self-mutilation. Within two steps, the gelid air has coated your skin, making everything slimy and unsatisfying. Now you understand what Karen Silkwood felt like, poor thing. Get done what needs to get done, then get your ass back in the house. Shower for at least 30 minutes.

 

4. The air conditioner never shuts off. Ever.

There’s that incessant drone that never goes away. No matter where you are in the house or what you are doing, you can hear the unit churning away, trying desperately to feebly pump slightly-cool air through the structure. Turn on every fan you have and pray for nightfall.

And try not to think about the electric bill. Any time something runs for that length of time, day after day, there’s going to be a financial impact. There’s not much you can do about it, so try to focus on other things. Like which of your relatives has been the least worthwhile in your life, and therefore could be sold for some ready cash.

 

5. Those dumb-ass misters on restaurant patios.

These things are only acceptable when you’re drunk, and therefore don’t care or don’t even notice that you are being continually spritzed. When you’re sober, they are completely annoying. It’s hard to have an important, gossip-filled conversation when you are constantly having to rinse and spit. And moisture on your food? Really, other than a certain kinky subset of the population, who really wants their buns wet?

 

6. Rude people actually ratchet up their skills.

Obnoxious people already have self-control issues. Apparently, in their twisted world, an increase in temperature apparently enhances their ability to offend the population in general. We’re all already suffering, folks, there’s no need for the attitude and the aggressive actions that just make us hate you more. Sadly, since these people are already sociopaths with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, they don’t care.

This is where our elected representatives should pass meaningful, productive legislation that allows the decent members of society to curtail the proclivities of the morally dead. I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to walk up to a police officer and say “That person over there? The one screaming into his cellphone with the intensity of a rabid donkey and pawing at his junk like the Hope Diamond is in there somewhere? He double-parked outside, left the engine running and the radio blaring, knocked over three children who already have abandonment issues, cut in line in front of a pregnant woman who is already dilated to a 6, made the cashier and everybody in that line wait 10 minutes because he wouldn’t put the damn phone down, and then he slapped a nun who was just trying to feed the homeless.”

At which point, in a justly-regulated world, the officer would respond with something like “you had me at blaring radio”, and then he would immediately handcuff the asshat and haul him away to some place where it’s dark and people cry.

 

7. Strangers ask stupid questions.

  Amazingly-clueless fool that I don’t know, but he apparently thinks we’re tight enough that he can violate me with a Southern-fried query that makes me insane: “Hot enough for ya?”

Me, fed up: “Actually, no. I’d like it to be hotter. And how am I going to accomplish that? By setting your ass on fire if you dare to ask something idiotic like that again. Get the hell away from me. And get a vasectomy while you’re at it.”

 

8. Women who insist on wearing three inches of makeup when it’s 112 degrees.

Do you not understand that this makes you look like there was a fire at Madame Tussauds ? Seriously, honey, step away from the Bisquick and put down the trowel. I now know what happened to Baby Jane.

 

9. Moist loins.

And not the good kind, slathered with a savory rub and grilled just right. There is just something fundamentally dehumanizing about walking around the town square with wet underwear. This condition just makes all important errands and entertainment destinations obsolete. I don’t care if Pottery Barn just got a new shipment of scented futons. I’m really not invested in the updated menu at Red Lobster, despite the allure of the cheese biscuits. And I think I’ll live if we don’t get to see Cleopatra’s bidet at the Dallas Museum of Art.

I just want to go somewhere that I can pull this SpongeBob wedgie out of my crack and remember what it was like to be dry and not make squishing sounds when I walk. That’s all I ask.

 

10. Beer does not stay cold despite all efforts.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, trumps all. There is no surer sign of the Apocalypse than lukewarm beer. Get out while you still can…

 

 

(Originally posted in “The Sound and the Fury” on 06/05/10. Revised and edited with extra flair for this post.)

 


Today’s Adventure in Absurdity: The Startling Squirt

Startling Squirt

 

It all started rather innocently enough, as most things do.

I was in the kitchen, feeling a slight twinge of domesticity struggling to get my attention. The actual mechanics of being domestic, particularly the bit about keeping the house nice and tidy, are things for which I have never had that much of a fondness, a distaste that I find has grown with age. It’s not that I don’t perform acts of cleanliness on a regular basis, as I also have an aversion to my house looking like it is under the care and maintenance of a vengeful three-year-old, but generally speaking there are thousands of things I would rather do than run about with a feather duster or scrub the toilets.

Still, the twinge was beckoning, and I decided to give in to its demands. Of course, I did not acquiesce to this calling without first establishing a personal reward for doing so. (I often use questionable psychology with myself. It’s a bit immature, but it gets things done, and we really shouldn’t quibble with that.) For today’s performance, I selected a glowing potential prize in the form of a Pop-Tart. This may have the appearance of setting a rather low bar for self-worth, but really, I quite worship these factory-produced things with a zeal that probably should be carefully analyzed once this country starts funding scientific research again.

And this was not just any run-of-the-mill Pop-Tart, mind you, nothing mundane like a strawberry or blueberry flavor that the non-adventurous would relish.  This was a very special version that combined the chemically-created but enticing flavors of peanut butter and chocolate. The box proclaimed that this heady mix of yum was only available for a Limited Time, an inducement at the time of purchase that had me hurling the box into my shopping cart with a rapidity that startled most of the current occupants of the grocery-store aisle. (One small child, wearing trendy designer clothes that only his parents cared about, immediately requested extensive therapy at the sight of my uncontrolled lust.)

Of course, as most of us who read fine print are aware, this Limited Edition angle is nothing but a marketing ploy to trigger the consumer’s inherent need to be special. If products tagged with this siren call result in acceptable sales figures and there are no unanticipated lawsuits by disgruntled patent holders, the product then becomes part of the standard line, thus losing its star wattage, with its premium product placing in store displays usurped by newer, more exotic flavors. If sales hit the floor with a thud, the employee who came up with the flavor gets a title change and a new office located in a less-desirable area of the building, where he can think about his sins and quietly plot revenge.

I took a double-packet of treats out of the alluring box and placed it on the kitchen table. If I did a mediocre job with the cleaning task at hand, I was allowed one of the delicacies. If I did a spectacular job (meaning a bystander could actually notice that something had taken place), then I got to eat both of them, followed by my thoughtful placing of the foil wrapping in the recycling bin, a selfless act that could possibly lead to the awarding of a third Pop-Tart, should my gluttony trump all reason. I was giddy with anticipation.

I then began scurrying about the kitchen, or at least my form of scurrying, which meant that I exhibited at least one sign of life. The actual basis of cleaning any room in the house is not so much about scrubbing with cleansers or mopping up questionable stains that might interest local police officials, but rather the putting away of scattered items that should have been put away in the first place. (90% of housework is the byproduct of laziness.) Once I had stored away all the various detritus strewn from hither to yon, the delicious Pop-Tarts were mere inches away from my greedy little fingers.

Only two items remained on the agenda. The first involved the laborious task of taking soiled dishes out of the sink and shoving them into the dishwasher. (This is really more of that “if people would just put things where they belong” business, but the offenses are softened by the somewhat valid disclaimer from the transgressors that the items in question needed to soak a bit in some hot water to loosen the concrete-like residue resulting from eating processed foods that we really shouldn’t be eating.) I used an industrial-strength scrub brush to whisk away most of the resistant buildup, and then I crammed the items into the dishwasher where, once the machine’s cycle was complete, the dishes would sit for days until someone realized that we didn’t have enough clean plates in the cabinet, and an investigation would ensue.

This left one roadblock between me and the glorious Pop-Tarts: The Fiesta silverware.

We love our Fiesta dining implements, we really do. They are sturdily made, with a nice heft to them that is pleasing to those who appreciate a quality arsenal whilst attacking mounds of sustenance placed before them. Sadly, the silverware comes with a Trojan-horse aspect that is not immediately evident at the time of purchase. Each piece has a very lovely series of colored squares on the base, a lineup of boxes representing some of the more popular colors in the product line, hues that are instantly recognizable to the thousands of acolytes in the Cult of Fiesta Ware Collection. This design aspect was initially quite pleasing. We snatched up two complete sets without a second thought.

In a nice instance of happenstance, the choice and arrangement of the colors is noticeably similar to that of the Rainbow Flag symbol utilized by the gay community. This aspect brought high-fives from many of our friends and certain family members, who were responding to the assumption that we were making a political statement with our culinary tools. We actually weren’t, that just happened to be a circumstantial byproduct. It’s fair to say that sets of this same silverware are nestled in the drawers of rabid right-wingers across the country, close-minded people who would hurl said silverware into the nearest pit of hell if they were aware of the suspected connection to progressive thinking.

In a sad instance of happenstance, these nifty little squares have the propensity of detaching themselves from their home bases whilst in the heat and cacophony of the dishwasher. It took us a while to get from the observation of “hey, this spoon is missing a square” to the realization that  “hey, we have some confetti in the bottom of the dishwasher”, but get there we did. End result, a new decree was issued in our house, wherein we must henceforth cleanse the renegade utensils by hand. There was considerable bitterness at first, with this menial development, but the wounds eventually healed and the individual washing of the implements became commonplace.

And now it was time for me to perform the cleansing ritual. This is where my day quickly jumped the rails.

In preparation for the next round of utensil sanitation, we place used but at least rinsed items into a large glass which resides in one of the two sinks until said glass is bulging with contents and can no longer be ignored.  The bulging had reached that point. I ran water into the right-hand sink until it became germ-killingly scalding, stoppered the sink, and chunked the contents of the glass into the rising steamy water. I then opened the cabinet under the sink, retrieved a bottle of dish soap (Meyer’s “Cranberry” scent, for those who require such detail for a narrative to be satisfying), yanked on the nozzle of the bottle to activate the pathway, squirted a healthy dollop into the swirling water, and then bent down to replace the bottle in its home berth whilst simultaneously clicking the nozzle closed.

At which point a surprisingly copious amount of liquid soap shot out of said nozzle and slammed into my left eye. Dead-on center.

I knew right away that I was in trouble. After all, any thinking person knows that one should not willingly do something this foolish, dousing an eyeball with a chemical detergent. Interestingly enough, the impact of this development was not immediate, much akin to what happens when a male is forcefully struck in the genital region, whether intentionally or the result of a lark gone terribly wrong. There was no immediate sensation, other than the contemplation that perhaps this situation is not going to end well. And then the pain hit.

I thought my eyeball was going to melt out of my head. I now knew what a scallop felt like when some backyard chef threw one on a sizzling grill.

Random thoughts raced through my panic-stricken mind. Firstly, I knew that I had to get this mess out of my eye pronto, or there might be lingering damage which would inhibit my enjoyment of “Golden Girls” reruns, forcing me to visualize the onscreen antics based on previous viewings. Secondly, it really wasn’t fair that this should be happening, as I was just trying to be clean. Thirdly, and most embarrassingly, I was concerned that my impaired vision would prevent me from finding the Pop-Tart on the kitchen table and I might have to forego my reward.

Instinctively, I wanted to rub at my violated eye, because it was itching as much as it was burning. Intellectually, I knew that it was not in my best interest to be pawing at the site of the crash-landing, as the soap was concentrated, and stirring it about would only generate even more of the lethal lather.  The mere act of trying to open my eye was upping the suds factor, as well as creating the sensation that sandpaper was being vigorously scraped across my cornea. I leant over the sink and blindly slapped at the one knob that would terminate the hot water contribution, changing the faucet stream to one of very-appealing coolness. I then began cupping the adjusted water with one hand, splashing the contents into the maw of my eye, hoping for an abatement from the soul-killing pain.

This did not immediately happen. The introduction of more water simply accomplished what I had tried to avoid by the not-rubbing, inducing the concentrated soap to expand its dominance. The increased pain nearly took my breath away, but not enough that I wasn’t able to let out a scream of measurable significance. (One of our cats, Scotch, wisely interpreted my howling as a sign that he should flee the immediate vicinity, and thusly he did. I was only minimally aware of his departure, as he stopped trying to entwine himself around my legs, overtly begging for a treat, and proceeded to Plan B, running for his life and the presumed safety of diving under the guest bed until better times arrived.)

I knew I needed to get the heinous soap out of my eye in a more expedient manner than the “Helen Keller at the water pump” method.  I dispensed with the modest cupping and splashing, and I shoved my head under the faucet, directing the stream right on my eye. This initially led to another scream, with Scotch texting his lawyer from under the bed, demanding a cease and desist order and a possible extraction by the military. Then, very slowly but minutely measurable, the stabbing ache began to subside. I had to take regular breaks, pulling my head out from under Niagara Falls so I could reassess the slow progress and curse the day I was born, but eventually, after nearly thirty minutes of the radiation rinse, I could actually keep that eye open for longer than a millisecond.

Once I knew that I wasn’t going to perish courtesy of Meyer’s Cranberry Liquid Soap, I willfully (perhaps stupidly) returned to the task at hand, that of washing the Fiesta silverware that had triggered my descent into madness. It’s reasonable to assume that perhaps I did not sanitize the flatware in a manner that would pass a health inspector’s approval, but I did my impaired best, and really, if someone managed to contract botulism from my lack of finesse, it would be nothing compared to my eye-closing journey.

Task completed, with the scrubbed silverware laid to rest on the coordinating Fiesta drying mat, I wiped my hands on a Fiesta dishtowel and then approached a mirror that we have installed on one wall of the kitchen. (Contrary to popular belief, said mirror was not hung for vanity purposes, but rather for the aesthetically-pleasing aspect that the intricate border of the mirror matched certain design elements in the room. These things happen when gay people have lots of time on their hands and credit cards that are happily accepted at home-improvement boutiques.) I gazed into the glass and, as expected, realized that my left eye looked like something that would be the result of a cattle-branding incident.

Still, I had to admit that the alarming redness of my orb somehow changed the iris from its normal and somewhat-boring hazel to a rather enviable shade of vibrant green. I had noted this transitional peculiarity before, usually whilst gazing into the bathroom mirror of a disreputable pub after several rounds of tequila had been enthusiastically consumed. No one believed my reports of this ability, because you really shouldn’t trust drunkards who babble about their shifting eye color, nothing good can possibly come of that.

I turned away from the non-vanity mirror and approached the kitchen table, on which lay the Pop-Tart packet which had inspired my urge to clean. The prize now seemed a bit lackluster, considering that the sugary goal had been devalued a smidge by the wayward course of events. But I couldn’t control my yearnings, such as they were for empty-calorie, high-carb products that provided no nutritional value whatsoever. I was a true modern consumer, following the carrot of degradation and shame. I ripped open the packet, broke off a corner of the first tart, and shoved it in my desperate mouth.

It tasted like soap.

 

 


The Plumbing Incident – Part 3: Things Get Shoved in Odd Places

The Plumbing Incident

 

So Terry is back on the horn with the Mob Boss contractor guy. Mob Man is amazed that the singing plumbers would leave without fixing the problem. (Why would we make this up? Did he think we found this amusing?) He promises to have someone out in the morning, and he will come by himself to make sure the job gets done. We accept his words with total faith, just as if some bearded guy walked off a mountain and handed us a stone tablet. Because we’re stupid and we don’t have much of a choice

Morning brings a casting change. The singing duo apparently got a record deal. Now we have a big bald guy, covered with tattoos, stomping around the drive-way in oversized boots, and exuding an attitude that would make a gang of crazed crack-heads drop their weapons and scamper away. I make Terry deal with Mr. Happy (“It’s YOUR turn! I’ve been trapped in this giant outhouse all week. Go!”) whilst I race around the house, hiding valuables in case Baldy decides to kill us for our DVD collection.

As I’m shoving Season 6 of “Angel” under the couch, I hear Papi Muerto ask for a ladder. A ladder? What the hell? How does a ladder figure into this equation at all? But I’m busy, I still have several seasons of “Wings” to lock up, so I race off, throwing an old towel over the XBOX 360.

I am interrupted by the sound of what appears to be a giant metal spear slamming through the roof and into the attic. Did we just time warp to Sparta? The noise continues, with whatever it is working i’s way toward, I’m only speculating at this point, the guest bathroom. My senses are a little off, mainly because I don’t have any mental reference points to apply to the sound and activity I am currently hearing.

I crack open the patio door and motion Terry over. “What the hell is he doing?”

“He’s snaking the toilet through the ventilation pipes. You know, those pipe things sticking out of the roof.”

The concept boggles me. I mean, at random moments over the years, I did sort of wonder about those little pipe things on the roof. What were those for? Where did they come from? Were we supposed to check and make sure things hadn’t gotten stuck in them that shouldn’t? But it was a brief curiosity, I didn’t really care. And now I learn that they are basically transmission points to send our personal aromas out into the universe.

Good gawd. No wonder dead squirrels would occasionally slide off the roof onto the patio during family barbecues. I just took it as a warning sign that maybe the potato salad had been sitting out too long. I hadn’t realized that we were dousing the furry little critters with radioactivity. Very sad.

Still, I had things to do. I slammed the door and wandered away, intent on securing the rest of my dwelling because I have a tendency to not trust strangers on my property, especially when they have just proven that they know about entrances into my house that I don’t. I had roughly fifteen minutes of relative calm, minutes during which I would have made arrangements to leave the country had I known what was about to happen, and then the Apocalypse began.

It seems that, up to this point, Papi had only been positioning his devil equipment, prepping the beast for the upcoming onslaught. I had naively assumed that he was in the midst of doing the deed, as he had already punctured the roof with his Sparta spear, and that action had been violent enough that one would think our pipes were now clear all the way to the Earth’s core. But that had just been foreplay, and now we were ready to get down to business.

Papi hollered something from the roof to a newly-arrived plumber person who had just wandered on to the patio. The newbie, standing next to Terry as Terry stared at him with a “who the hell are you” expression, hollered something back at Papi. This brought another vocal something from Papi, and another response from Newbie. The exact nature of the discussion was unclear, as they were speaking in Spanish, a language I had not bothered to learn, an unfortunate oversight, considering I live in Texas. But based on what happened next, and the way Newbie fled around the corner of the house with amazing speed, I’m guessing that Papi was telling Newbie to evacuate the entire neighborhood.

During this whole bit of no hablo espanol, it did occur to me that we couldn’t actually see Papi, tromping around on the roof as he was and jacking with whatever. We could very well be talking to one of the squirrels, a special bi-lingual one that had somehow managed to survive our toxic butt gases and was taking revenge by messing with our heads. For all we knew, Papi might be tied to the chimney with duct tape across his mouth, holding today’s edition of the newspaper while another squirrel snapped a picture on his cellphone and composed a ransom letter. Probably not, but my mind does wander.

Then Papi, or one of the squirrels, kicked the hell-beast snaking-machine up to full throttle.

The entire house began to shake in a vindictive manner. The walls were vibrating, the wood floors were popping and groaning, and there were agonizing metallic screams coming from the 50-year-old pipes. In desperate terror, convinced that This was It, my life was over and there were so many things I hadn’t accomplished, I began to race through the house in search of anywhere that wasn’t shifting and buckling. (As I thundered through the kitchen, an image of Linda Blair burned into a tortilla I had left on the counter after breakfast.) I made it all the way to the master bedroom before I completely shut down, unable to function.

As I stood there, frozen in an admirable interpretation of those fools in horror movies who don’t understand they should get out of the creepy house before they are eviscerated by the maniacal killer, I was joined by an equally-traumatized companion. Scotch, our cat who was already simple before this mess started, came thundering around the corner, mad foam flying from his snarling lips. He slammed full force into my legs, and then started ripping said legs to shreds because I was in his way. I limped to the side, and he dove toward a two-inch opening under the entertainment center. And he got under there. All the way.

This insanity continued for several hours. After about thirty minutes of bleeding from the shins and weeping openly, it dawned on me that I wasn’t dead and the house hadn’t collapsed. Still, the ungodly noises and vibrations kept me firmly on the edge of insanity. The only thing that got me through it was a vague idea that Dr. Kevorkian had been paroled, and I might be able to find his number if I just googled hard enough.

Days later, possibly weeks, I awoke from my self-absorbed cocoon and stretched out of the fetal position. I couldn’t hear or feel anything that was mind-numbingly annoying. Was it over? I hopped out of bed (not sure how I got there), checked on Scotch who was still under the entertainment center based on the smidge of tail that I could see poking out (he hissed and threw a cat toy at me), and I raced back through the house. I threw open the patio door in a nice melodramatic moment, and I stepped out on to the patio to learn what our fate might be.

I was presented with the tableau of Terry conversing with the three plumbers. (How did we get to three plumbers? Did the noise attract the third one, some type of homing beacon for bored plumbers driving around with nothing else to do?) But at least Papi was one of the three, so he hadn’t been kidnapped after all despite the squirrel-based rumors. And Papi broke the news to me. The assault from above hadn’t worked, despite the Lucifer-inspired attributes of the military-grade snaking machine. We had to go to Plan B, which shifted the possible source of the devil’s lair from the house itself to the discharge line that ran from the house to the alley.

This new crap-fest plan involved digging down to the main exit pipe on the side of the house, busting that puppy open, and then performing a number of exploratory actions. For some reason, my went to that “Operation” game from way back in the day where, if you didn’t use your little tweezers correctly, the patient’s nose would light up and you were banished from the game forever. The potential shame of childhood entertainment probably had nothing to do with the current situation, but I really didn’t have anything else to reference because I’m not a plumber.

Regardless of my general tendency to flash back to personal failures of little relevance, the plumbing team really needed to move forward with this procedure as they didn’t have anything else in their playbook at the moment and the day was waning. So proceed they did, a rather dramatic course of events that involved the enthusiastic violation of my landscaping, and then some strenuous banging away at a critical cast-iron pipe that had been nobly serving sewage needs in our country longer than I had been alive.

Once the pipe had been rudely breached, the cast members then resorted to a sort of tag-team formation. We had one plumber doing the snaking at the invasion point, one plumber standing out in the alley at the manhole opening to the city lines, and one plumber running between them, spewing cryptic code and secret passwords. From all appearances, the three of them were really enjoying this bit of slap and tickle with a relish that I did not understand, further confirming that their profession was one that I wisely had not pursued in my formative years.

For my part, I simply sat on the patio and watched the trio run amuck, regularly reaching down to mop up the blood that was gushing from my legs, a spillage that was courtesy of Scotch the Cat who still did not understand the correlation between “behaving in a decent manner” and “the presentation of delicious treats”. Terry, for his part, stood stoically beside me, since he was not hemorrhaging from the knees and was therefore the most-qualified candidate to race out onto the field of battle should one of the plumbers be felled in action.

Hours later, the plumbing trio suddenly ceased with their revelry and two of them approached the patio with an unsatisfying report. The waterway seems to be flowing in a more acceptable manner, but there’s still a vague obstruction of some kind. They’re gonna have to go find one of them fancy water-proof cameras and shove it down the damn pipe to see what’s what. They won’t be able to locate on until the morning, but hey, in the interim, they can install a trap on the side of the house to help with the situation.

This intrigued me. They are going to install one of these thingies that we should have had in the first place. I hobbled closer to them so I could catch every detail, making sure that I did so in a manner that bespoke of my physical and emotional pain, a manner that everyone promptly ignored. “So, how does this work?” I asked, looking all tragic and pale.

Papi launched. “Well, we’re gonna cut out a chunk of this here pipe, and insert this little piece of PVC that’s gotta screw-top lid. That way, when people need to snake this thing, they already got access, don’t have to go through the toilets or the roof or go out to city entrance.” He turned and waved at the alley, where the startled third plumber, who clearly thought he was on a break and lamely tried to hide the cigarette he was sneaking, waved weakly back. Papi turned back around. “That’s all there is to it.” He was obviously trying to minimize the situation for me, probably because I was clutching my medic-alert bracelet and I had a twitch in my left eye.

“But, how does that help us NOW? We’re still draining slow.”

He smiled, an annoying decision on his part, considering. “Well, until we can get this all worked out, if you start backin up again, you can just run out here and pop the top and let everything gush out. We can throw some lime on it, you won’t smell a thing.”

So I looked at where he was standing, next to the driveway. And I looked at the driveway, which slopes down to the street. A street along which lived hordes of retired people who have nothing better to do than stand at their bay windows and record every detail of every single thing that ever happens. The same people who might see poop floating down our driveway and into a public thoroughfare, find such a vision to be rude and distasteful, and then proceed to call the City Council, because they’ve already got them on speed dial, right under the number for the local pharmacy.

The twitching in my left eye increased to the point that my head was vibrating.

Papi the Plumber took note of my growing dismay and tried to slap a positive spin on the pathetic non-success of the day’s events. “But at least you can still have your party tonight. Just use this trap if you need to. Of course, you might wanna tell them folks to hold off on the toilet paper.”

Aw, hell. The party. I had somehow completely forgotten about that during all the lovely shenanigans, what with the howling pussy and the slashed legs and the neutron bomb through the roof and the odd fact that Papi had changed his dialogue from rapid Spanish to West Texas drawl at some point in the story. We had people coming over. In just a few hours. Not only did we have to race around and tidy things up, now we’ve got to call all the party guests and say “Hey, if you envision a bowel movement in your near future, could you maybe take care of that before you head over? Oh, and you probably shouldn’t walk up the driveway, because you might see something you really don’t want to see.”

I went back into the house to google Dr. Kevorkian again.

 

To be continued…

 

(Originally posted in “The Sound and the Fury” on 05/09/09. Revised and edited with extra flair for this post.)

 


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