A wise person once said, “I feel in need of a long, hot shower.” Yep, that’s the most recent comment on this blog as I sit down to work on this post and a fitting way to start. Yesterday’s topic decidedly left me wanting the same.
The key word in the opening statement is “hot.”
Q. What goes in the toaster?
A. Bread, you idiot.
Q. Do you sell any hot water heaters?
A. No, you idiot. You don’t need to heat water that’s already hot.
Ah. So we’ll need a water heater if we want our shower to be nice and toasty.
We’ve lived in the big city for eight months now. During that time the hot water has had a rosy hue. Kind of the like the candy apple red on the car in the movie Corvette Summer starring Mark Hamill. We’ve been showering in rust.
The water heater, circa 1985, was almost 30 years old. My wife finally convinced the property management company to put in a new one. They were sending over their man to install it.
The big day came and I listened out of the corner of my ear, working on my computer, safely ensconced in my office, as my wife met the guy and they set about the task. Everything seemed to be going fine.
I went to the kitchen to get a refill on my coffee. The man saw me. Oh shit.
The man had been treating my wife in a reasonable manner. They had been working well together. They had been making excellent progress. All kinds of water heater thingies were getting done and stuff.
I went back to my office but it was already too late.
“Is your husband still around?” I heard the man say loudly.
I came out to meet the guy. Firm handshake? Check. Look a man directly in the eye with the steely glint of death? Check. I piddled myself.
Smelling like a tobacco bomb must have been the icing on the cake, the pièce de résistance to complete the ensemble. I resisted the urge to go check his rig in our driveway for enormous plastic truck nuts.
From that moment on he ignored my wife and talked around her to get to me. It was decidedly rude and awkward and unpleasant.
I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. No sir! I know what’s going on here. You’re a man. I’m a man. We’re doing man stuff. This is no place for a woman.
There’s certainly no need to offer her the most basic human courtesies any longer. No need to pretend. No need to play games. Unless, of course, we require a refreshing mint julep or some such, right? Honey, go on now and get your cute little buns in the kitchen and whip us up something real nice to drink, ya hear?
The first order of business was lifting in the new unit. I told the man I had a bad back. I wasn’t lying. Why the fuck do they only send one person if the job requires two? Come on, now. Man up! This will be easy.
One of my vertebrae shot across the room and ricocheted off the wall like a Frisbee. I stood and paused to assess the damage. Although unmarred to the naked eye, my back had gone sideways, muscles (if you can call them that) in each arm felt strained, and my wrist hurt and my hand was hanging limp. Geez, what the hell had happened during those few seconds of effort? Not bad. I was only injured in four places.
Along the way there were a few decisions that had to be made. “No problem,” I replied every single time. “One moment and I’ll go ask my wife.” After all, I knew absolutely nothing about this sort of shit.
One time, long ago, I decided to get my wife a present. It was a phone with a really long cord so you could walk all the way around the entire kitchen. I know! Super fancy. It was a wall-mount unit and I decided to handle the job myself. I read the instructions five times. I spent an hour studying the pieces, making measurements, and acquainting myself with a machine known as a “drill.” I did several dry runs.
I’m an intelligent guy and I finally felt ready. I triple-checked the marks I’d made on the wall and fired up the machine.
Whrrrr. Whrrr. Whrrr!
Excitedly I put the pieces up against the wall and prepared to lock things down. “What the?” Yep. I screwed it all up. Badly. No way to recover. That was also the day I got introduced to spackling paste and paint and other stuff.
I think I’ve written on this blog about how, in the seventh grade, I was the only boy to take the “home economics” class. The rest of them took shop class where they made exciting things like lamps out of blocks of wood.
Meanwhile, I was kickin’ it in a room full of girls, learning about things like personal hygiene and sewing my own apron. I also made and got to eat chocolate chip cookies. I’ve never looked back.
Now the dude was in my face, explaining the operation of the bloody thing. The pilot light, the igniter, the various dials and buttons that do all sorts of things, and some really important do-not-forget because this is important information.
I’m proud to say that I looked at the man and said, “What? Pilot light? Does that mean this thing runs on gas?”
It was a very proud moment for me. I think better than earning any gold medal in the Olympics. My follow up was almost as good.
“Hang on, this sounds important. I’m going to get the wife.”