Would someone please tell my husband I’m trying to fix the bathtub drain?


“Why are you heating water?” my husband asked me with a note of alarm in his voice.

He associates hot water with tea. And he associates tea with sore throats.

“Because I’m … uh … ”

we_can_do_itHow do I tell my husband that I’m heating water because our bathtub drain is plugged? As I shower, the water slowly rises to my ankles until I cry for help, quickly rinse and turn off the faucet. Then the water slowly recedes, leaving a gray filthy mess. This isn’t pleasant. It grosses me out.

Somehow it doesn’t gross out one of the large smelly boys, who not only doesn’t notice the gray filthy mess, he TAKES A BATH IN IT. My only comfort in this is that one of the large smelly boys is actually taking a bath, though I still worry for his overall hygiene.

My mom visited and somehow the rising pool of water did not escape her notice.

Figuring a large clump of goo got lodged in the drain, I unscrewed the stopper to clean it out. But there’s a trap a few inches down that blocks getting to the goo.

I tried the vinegar and soda trick. Nada.

I got advice from our handy guy. He said to go through the overflow drain.

So I got out my impressive array of drain-cleaning implements that I’ve collected through the years because each clump of goo seemed to need a slightly different device. My collection includes a plastic thorny thing, a big auger, a little auger, and (my personal favorite) a hose blaster. I got out a screwdriver. I got out a new roll of paper towels. I pulled over the trash can so I could put the large clump of goo in it.

I (smartly) closed the drain and then unscrewed the cap to the overflow. Behind the cap is a screw hole held in place by three spokes. The holes between the spokes are small. What to fit through?

The plastic thorny thing doesn’t reach far enough. The curlicue at the bottom of the big auger is too big. The curlicue at the bottom of the little auger is even bigger. But the hose blaster is just right. What water source to attach it to?

The sink faucet is too big. The bathtub faucet is even bigger. But the garden hose might be just right.

The thought of running a garden hose into my bathroom repulses me. Perhaps because it’s dirty. Or perhaps because it vividly reminds me of the time my older brother got me back for throwing a little glass of cold water on him while he was in the shower.

He waited a good long time. He waited until I was in the shower tucked inside our parents’ master bedroom. He lowered a rope two stories. He attached a garden hose with a nozzle on it and turned on the faucet. He ran back upstairs. He raised the rope with the hose, picked the bathroom lock, held the nozzle over the shower door and cut loose with bone-chilling water at full blast.

I’m scarred for life. I’m afraid of a garden hose in my bathroom.

But now I have to confront my fear or face a gray filthy mess.

I open the bathroom window. I unlock a gate and get the dirty garden hose. I haul it back, push it over the white sill and thread it through pristine white lace curtains. I secretly hope my husband won’t notice what’s going on. I go back inside the bathroom, which is black-and-white clean with mod gray walls. I carefully maneuver the hose across the antique floor tile and around the white shower curtain. I notice the hose has tracked a little dirt on the floor and made a small muddy mess on the sill. I pull the garden hose up to the hose blaster. I’m ready to link them. I’m thinking that clump of goo is going to be toast. And then I realize the hose’s endpart is … is … (I’m embarrassed to say) … a bigger female part than the female part on my hose blaster.

I scrounge through my impressive array of drain-cleaning implements, but I confirm the worst! I have misplaced my male part.

I need one double-duty male for my two females, and I don’t have one! If hose attachments are called couplings, this would be a ménage trois with a male adapter.

So I fill the tea kettle and turn on the stove. My brother once used the hot-water trick to clean his daughter’s puked pasta out of my sink. He just heated water on the stove and carried it to the bathroom. He didn’t tell me my sink was full of puked pasta.

I don’t know what to tell my husband. I just hope by the time the water boils I can get that garden hose out of the bathroom. But I do know one thing. If the hot water trick doesn’t work I’m going to need a new drain-cleaning implement. I’m going to need a new male part.

— Laura Grimes