Monday, October 28, 2013

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The Clog (Why is my husband too lazy to unclog the toilet?) Part I

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Mel (my wife) asks: Why are you too lazy to unclog the toilet? Is there something wrong with you?
            Me: Would you like me to blog about this?
            Mel: If it will help me understand why I had your children, than yes.

“Clint! Really? Really? You couldn’t get the plunger? You couldn’t just reach next the to toilet and grab the plunger? It’s right there. Stop leaving these… these… messes!” Mel threw her arms in the air as she said, “Messes.” It was evening. A weekday. Small town in Oregon. Late fall. The kids were already in bed because they had school in the morning, and I was sitting at the dinner table, grading papers for my online class like I always did at this time. Our crappy third floor apartment was, more or less, square shaped. There were bedrooms to the left and right, with a bathroom in between. I had a clear view through our long slender kitchen to inside of the bathroom, where Mel stood. The light was on above the vanity, which was at Mel’s back. Her face was covered in shadows. Her face looked dark, mysterious, but her rigid shoulders and clenched fist helped me to realize that I was in deep shit.
I didn’t get up immediately. I never do in these situations. I try not to react. Instead, we usually have a stare-off. I just look at her, expressionless, tring not to give away anything with my face, especially guilt. We always stare at each other for a while. Me not admitting to clogging the toilet. And her, standing in the doorway, with her hands on her hips, body tense with anger. 
            I assumed that once we had kids, they would start to get blamed for some of the asinine things I do. But sadly, it has gone the other way. I often get blamed for what they do. Everything from spilling soda to losing car keys.
Tristan, my son, often clogged the toilet. Which was surprising because, well, he was six-years-old and I don’t fully understand how a three foot tall person could produce something large enough to clog the toilet. But he did, probably more than me, and I assumed it had something to do with his diet of dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets, bananas, and Mac and Cheese. 
Dino Nuggets+Tristan= Clogged Toilet

And Norah, my daughter, who was four-years-old and stood about two feet five inches, had a surprising track record of clogging the pipes. This was also mind boggling to me considering she’d only been potty trained for about one year, couldn’t weigh more than 35 pounds, and eats like a bird. But regardless of the culprits, if I was home, I was the first to be blamed. Sometimes I think about arguing with Mel as to why I’m always the first to be blamed, but I think in the heat of the moment she is only out for justice. A mob mentality. That sort of thing. And I suppose I can understand why she would feel that way. There is a smelly, swirling cool mess in the toilet keeping her from doing her business. Making her uncomfortable. And her kneejerk reaction is to blame her husband-me.  
            Her anger from the bathroom should’ve been expected. This is not the first time I have taken scorn for clogging the toilet and walking away. Mel and I have been married for almost nine years, and only about three of those years we’ve had children using the toilet. I have a long track record to overcome.
Every time Mel has confronted me about clogging the toilet and then walking away, she always questions me. Sometimes she asks the questions outright. But most of the time I can see the questions behind her disgusted eyes and tightly drawn, raging, white, frustrated lips. Questions like: why is using the plunger so difficult? Why would you do that before going to work, and leave it for me to deal with? Why would you think you could get away with it? Did you think some toilet fairy was going to come and clean up your mess? Is that what you think of me? Do you see me as some magical wonder that is willing to use the plunger when you are too lazy? Is there something wrong with me for staying married to someone with such a lack of motivation? A lack of foresight? A lack of common decency? A lack of compassion for his wife? Why did I have your children?
Do you hate me?
The Toilet Fairy

No, Mel. I’ve never hated you. Nor will I. But sadly, I don’t have a very good answer for many of your questions. But I will still try to answer them. It was not that the plunger was too difficult to use. And it was not a booby trap that I set before leaving for work, and then ran down the apartment stairs, giggling, devilishly. However, I will admit that I do assume it will just go away if I ignore it. But that has nothing to do with you. I simply know that if I give the clog a moment to think about what it’s done, if I give it some quiet time to consider that its actions were wrong and allow it some time to change its tune, the clog will go away.
For example, let’s step back to the beginning of this essay. Before Mel yelled at me for clogging the toilet, I was in the bathroom thinking, “Curse you spicy chicken from the frozen section! You are tasty and affordable. You tempt me. You satisfy me. But then you burn my spicy chicken release hole as if what we shared meant nothing!”
Okay. Hold on. I was not really thinking that in the moment. But rest assured I was very uncomfortable.
Once everything was said and done, I stood and flushed. I was a little tired from the ordeal and not in the mood to do much but wash my hands and walk away. But unfortunately a mass of soggy paper stubbornly sat, twisting in the current. So I stayed my coarse. I shut the lid, washed my hands, and gave the clog a reflective moment to think about its disobedience. I stepped out, went to the kitchen, sat down, and waited, hopeful that I could flush again in a few moments, and once I did, the problem would quickly go down the drain. 

The Clog (Why is my husband too lazy to unclog the toilet?) Part II

You would also enjoy Confessions Of A Stay At Home Dad

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Clint Edwards is a tutor coordinator at Oregon State University. He is also the former co-host of the Weekly Reader on KMSU and a graduate of the MFA program at Minnesota State University. His writing has been listed as notable by Best American Essays, and has been published in The Baltimore Review, and through The University of North Dakota, Boston College, Emerson College, The University of South Carolina, and Minnesota State University. 


Don Bennett said...

This can be solved by checking if your pipes aren’t exactly working properly. Most toilets either get clogged because of low water pressure, or a really narrow or an already clogged pipe. Maybe you can take a look into this so you won’t have any one of those arguments again.
Don Bennett

Clint said...

Thanks for the advice! Lucky for us, Don, we moved. Our plumbing seems to be much better in our new house.

Lovella Cushman said...

I’m so glad you’ve got a chance to move into another house without these annoying toilet problems, Clint. I can only imagine how hard it was for you to deal with those clogging problems and foul odor. I’ve been reading your past posts, and knew that these bathroom issues are still haunting your family from time to time. Well, it's a good thing they’re not as bad as those situations in your previous house. I guess you guys could use some DIY techniques or some expert help in maintaining a great toilet. How is it now, btw?

Lovella Cushman @ Perfection Plumbing

Florent Lambert said...

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