Monday, May 18, 2015

An Oboist's Guide to Plumbing

An Oboist's Guide to Plumbing, Or
How many "Jeezis Christs" does it take to install a kitchen faucet?

My Aunt Esther always said that my Uncle Lou taught her parakeet to swear. "Every time he left my place", she said, "My parakeet would say, "Jeezis Christ, Jeezis Christ, Jeezis Christ".

Uncle Lou was forever chomping on an unlit cigar. It's constant presence increased the effectiveness of his swearing, since communications are markedly enhanced by the combination of both auditory and visual signals. I must report that Aunt Esther's parakeet never did master the art of keeping an unlit cigar in its mouth, and I don't smoke, but I have formed the habit of swearing just like my Uncle Lou when I find myself in frustrating physical situations. You can just imagine how this might apply to plumbing.

I was recently struck by the comment of my old friend and accomplished pianist, Mark Osten, when he posted an update about his own plumbing adventures on Facebook. Mark said that his accomplishment in the field of do it yourself plumbing was, for him, the equivalent of the moon shot. 

"Roger that, Mark. This is Houston. Congratulations on your EMA".  (Extra Musical Activity)

For my own plumbing adventure, "Houston" was the local hardware store in our small town.  I dutifully showed them the situation in pictures on a smart phone and received hearty congratulations all around. It seems that many of their customers attempt to describe plumbing situations by using the limited tools of the English language accompanied by hand gestures. 

After a short discussion, one of my two hardware advisors addressed the other one as Horatio. I immediately picked up on this and thought it was a reference to Shakespeare. "Oh", I said, "That's Hamlet.  Hamlet's a tragedy."

"All plumbing is tragedy", the man said. I just had no idea plumbing attracted such wisdom.

When I got back to the realities on the ground, I discovered that the hot and cold water shut off valves also needed replacing. Alas, poor Yorick, the tragedy had begun. Horatio supplied the parts and the installation advice, and I resumed my unlikely position under the sink in a dreadfully small and awkward space designed specifically for mice who don't turn large and long handled wrenches, and they don't got a need  for no stinkin' torque.

Three spills, two trips to the hardware store, and one wife injured from taking a fall later, I am on the verge of completing my own do it yourself plumbing job. Tell me, Is this not tragedy?

In the course of the Job ( Biblical reference here to accompany the Shakespeare), I discovered  that many of the cleverly manufactured parts I was installing were also the sons of female dogs. I could have used one of my Uncle Lou's cigars to enhance the effect of my language, but, alas, I don't smoke.

Hey, Mark, how's that moon shot going for you?