Friday, November 1, 2013

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

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 If you have not read The Clog (Why is my husband too lazy to unclog the toilet?) Part I, you can do so by clicking here.
Most of the time I flush after about 30 minutes and the clog goes down. In all honesty, I’d rather wait 30 minutes and re-flush than use the plunger. In fact, now that I think about it, my hatred of using the plunger is 90% of the problem. It’s gross. The handle always feels sticky for some reason and I am suspicious as to what’s actually on it. This is not to mention what is on the round rubber end of the plunger (I have no idea what this called. The cuff? The water pusher? The business end? It doesn’t matter…). There always seems to be some strange spackle of something on there. Something brown, black, or brown and black, that I cannot identify, so I simply assume it’s poop. Little dried up particles that have sat there, festering, for an undetermined amount of time. Just looking at the business end of the plunger makes me nauseous.
The Business End
 Once I get over looking at it, I have to deal with the water that splashes out from the toilet and onto the seat. This causes me great anger because it means I have to clean the toilet. Or, if the clog is particularly stubborn, the water will splash out from the bowl and actually make contact with my skin. I hate that the most.
Not that any of this is not experienced by other people. I know that using a plunger on a clogged toilet is part of life. It’s something that simply, and unfortunately, happens, same as traffic jams, bad weather, stepping in dog poop, slipping on ice, tripping on an untied shoe lace, getting food poisoning, eating a bad meal, falling down stairs, dog bites, cat scratches, and so on. But you know what, I find ways to avoid all of those things, too. So I really don’t see why letting a clog soak for a moment so I can avoid doing something I dislike is really that strange.
 What is strange, however, is that part of the reason I let the clog sit is because of spite. Using the plunger makes me feel like the turd has won. It’s the victor in making me do something I really don’t want to do. Like it is sitting there, gazing up at me with a devilish grin somewhere inside the pipe. I know this sounds crazy, and as I write, I realize that it is crazy.  But in the moment it always makes perfect sense. I’d like to think that the reflective moment I am having right now will cause a change in my behavior. I hope it will help me overcome my issues with using the plunger so that next time I clog the toilet I will come at the problem with new vigor. I will pick up it up and get shit done (excuse the pun). My marriage will be stronger because of this change, and so will my sanity. But sadly, I don’t know if this will happen because I’m not ready to change.

And I don’t think that I have to. In fact, I think Mel shares my dislike of the plunger. About six months into our marriage, once we really started to get comfortable with each other, Mel started coming to me on occasion with a sly, sheepish grin, one leg slightly behind her, foot balancing on the toe. She was clearly going out of her way to be really cute. As if her cuteness could fix all problems. As if it had a power over me. And sadly, it did. In fact, it still does.
 “The toilet is clogged,” she’d say.
She never gave the sentence an actor. She never said, “You clogged the toilet,” or “I clogged the toilet,” or even, “someone clogged the toilet.” Only, “the toilet is clogged.” As if it clogged itself without some kind of outside acting agent. Which would be remarkable. Politicians have been using this same guiltless rhetorical strategy for years with the statement, “mistakes were made.” Who made the mistakes? Who knows! But who was going to clean them up? A non-guilty party, that’s who!
Mel often used this same strategy on me early in our marriage. She’d clogged the toilet and she didn’t want to deal with it. She seemed to think it was part of my manly duties, like hanging cabinets or fixing the car (both activities I am horrible at). Having a husband unclog your toilet was just one of the fringe benefits of being married. And like a good husband, I rolled up my sleeves and handled the problem. When I think back to the times I unclogged the toilet for Mel, I realize how irritating I must be to her. I will be the first to admit that unclogging someone else’s mess is really irritating. It made me feel like a tool. 

But like many things in marriage, I started getting cold to it. I started telling her to deal with it herself. However, I never told her to use the plunger. I always cried out to her, whether from the sofa or from the kitchen table, “Just let it sit for a moment. Then try again. It’ll go down.”
I said it with authority. And surprisingly, Mel never argued. She mumbled a little to herself, went into the restroom, grabbed the plunger, and took care of the problem. 

You would also enjoy, The Covered Wagon (Why is my husband so proud of his farts?)

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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.