Thursday, January 9, 2014

Plumb Crazy

The great philosopher Paula Abdul once said

I take--2 steps forward
I take--2 steps back
We come together
Cuz opposites attract 

I'm fairly certain she was writing that about me and my man. We were only twelve years old when it came over the airwaves.

And we hadn't met yet.

But I'm still thinking she was picturing us.

Unless she didn't even write that song. 

In that case, I could be wrong. 


What I'm trying to say is, we (the Mr. and myself) are very different. He's a born leader, a strong communicator and driven to succeed. He thrives on a challenge and is not easily swayed by circumstance or chaos. He's a problem solver and does.not.stop until he figures out whatever it is that needs figuring. He loves his job as a baseball manager and in the off season he works at a church in a nearby community as an assistant pastor. He's pretty much good at anything he puts his mind to.

Then there's me.

I wouldn't mind it if I sat in a corner with a book all day, all the while, doing my very best to not attract attention. From anyone. My clearest communication skill is sarcasm, a language not everyone speaks. My life motto is "this too shall pass" which is code for, "if I ignore it long enough, it will go away". I haven't yet figured out what I'm going to be when I grow up and adversity makes me want to crawl under the covers. With a heating pad. And every episode of Friends. 

So aside from our mad Tetris skills, and our mutual love of romantic comedies sports, the only other thing we both brought to the marriage is

the inability to fix things.


Sure, there have been a few shining moments. Like this fall when the disposal stopped disposing Andy found a simple solution on the Google. He did a fancy twist, turn, prod thing and voila! it worked. And just a few weeks ago, I managed to rewire a lamp. I did have to text back and forth with my cousin, an electrician, but once the smoke cleared and my ears stopped ringing, I saw the light. 

So Saturday morning, when I stepped into our half bath to flush a forgotten toilet, I noticed the intermittent dripping that had been coming from the faucet for a while had picked up speed. I'm not sure if I was caught up in the euphoria of my recent electrical victory or what but something in me said

I bet I can fix that.

It shocked me, too.

So I took the obvious first step toward any successful home repair, I watched a YouTube.

Looking back, I probably should have watched more than one committed more time to research. But I got a little excited and determined I now knew exactly what needed to be done.

From the beginning, it seemed pretty straight forward. Determine which side the leak was coming from (cold), turn off the water, then remove the offending handle and the broken cartridge.

See all those fancy terms I know, like handle?

Hold your applause until the end.

It was here I made my first mistake.

I told Andy what I was doing.

He had been holed up in his office getting ready for that weekend's church service so I poked my head in the door just to let him know I was running to Lowe's.

(We have this rule. We cannot leave the premises without warning the other that they now have full responsibility of the gaggle. It's only fair.)

Of course, I couldn't get out without him asking what was up, so I calmly stated I was fixing the bathroom sink and I needed a part. Totally normal. NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

He gave me a weird look but I darted out before he could start talking.

Sometimes I don't like to ask for help. I also don't enjoy controversy so I tend to

run away! Before anyone starts asking questions!........

I really started to think that plumbing may be my calling in life when I walked into the store and almost immediately found the part I needed. I was in and out all while some other fellow in overalls was still staring at the wall of options.

Poor schmuck.

He probably didn't know about the YouTube.

When I returned home I found Andy in the bathroom, staring at random delta faucet parts strewn across the counter like a crime scene. That's when the questions began.

Do you know what you're doing?

How are you going to fix this?

I didn't even know we had a problem. WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME WE HAD A PROBLEM?

I started mumbling yes I have a plan and I'm pretty sure I know how things go back together and MAYBE IF YOU EVER CLEANED A TOILET AROUND HERE YOU WOULD KNOW ABOUT THE FAULTY FAUCET.

I didn't really say that last part.

Oh hindsight.

This is where you could say I made my second mistake.

I let that boy get in my head. It didn't help that I was trying to do too many things at once. It was sheet washing Saturday, the girls were up to their usual shenanigans, the girls wanted lunch, the girls needed to ask me 87 questions about everything I was doing in the bathroom,  crap! was that the old cartridge or the new one I just jammed down into the faucet.......

 Plus, I had no idea what I was making for dinner.

I looked over the mess I'd made and realized that I needed a breather, so I moved on to bed making. 
This is when my somewhat distracted first grader skipped into the bathroom and peed.
With the lid down.
Bed making stopped.
Point said child in the direction of paper towels and Lysol.
Encourage child to look before she leaks.
Move on to Anna and Emily's room. 
Wrestle two fitted sheets, one mattress pad (Lainey wasn't the only one with bladder issues that day) and two bed rails. 
Maybe we could just start using sleeping bags?
Then the love of my life interrupted my thinking process by calling from downstairs
where are you? why aren't you working on this? what's the plan here?
When I finally got back to the sink, I felt a little better (despite the heckling) and muddled through well enough to get the whole thing put back together without any leftover parts. I said a little prayer, turned the water back on andddddddd
the slam thing was leaking worse than when I started.
Worse than when I started. 
H E double hockey sticks.
Andy started muttering something about hiring a professional....just let me figure this out...I don't have time for this.... 
Then he crossed the line and started touching my knobs.

This is when I stepped up and boldly said

Listen, dude. I have one more idea. I need a little more time. I'm running to Lowe's again and then if I can't fix it, you do whatever it is you have to do.

When I got back, he was having a dance party in the living room with the girls so I did what any mature, partially educated woman would do;

I locked myself in the bathroom.
And I was not coming out until the leak stopped. Even if that meant I had to wait for a drought.
I took the cold faucet apart again, replaced the seats and springs (my new part), reinserted the cartridge and put the handle back on. 
All with only one flesh wound.
And then,

it stopped dripping. 


And it only took me six hours.

I casually strolled out of there like the big deal that I was and when Andy realized that I had, indeed fixed the leak, he threw me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and started yelling

She did it! She's the greatest! Mama fixed it, girls! I bet she's saved us like three dollars a year off our water bill!

I can smell mockery from a mile away.

But it's okay, I can handle it.

Cuz you know, two steps forward, one step back.....


Turns out a gentlemen by the name of Oliver Leiber wrote the song Opposites Attract. Well done, Mr. Leiber, well done.



  1. Way to go, Jessie Vila! I wish we lived closer together. We'd have so much fun comparing notes as Billy and I are very similar to you and Andy. Oh, and we could help each other with fix its and installations! ;)

    1. Well, it's official, we totally need to spend time together. I tried to work in a Bob Vila reference but thought no one would know who he is! Hugs to you and your snow covered family.

  2. Well, one thing your VERY good writing. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh Gary Black, you just totally made my day. Thank you!

  3. You just described me better than I could ever describe me...but switch out "Friends" which I enjoy but never watched when it was on tv b/c for some reason I was busy with work, or night class, or who knows what to watch it with Criminal Minds or Gilmore Girls... "I wouldn't mind it if I sat in a corner with a book all day, all the while, doing my very best to not attract attention. From anyone. My clearest communication skill is sarcasm, a language not everyone speaks. My life motto is "this too shall pass" which is code for, "if I ignore it long enough, it will go away". I haven't yet figured out what I'm going to be when I grow up and adversity makes me want to crawl under the covers. With a heating pad. And every episode of Friends. "

  4. Hi, Jessie! Your humor and determination is engaging! I get you; a leaking bathroom is so troublesome! It’s that kind of problem that won’t stop pestering you until it is resolved. Kudos to you for fixing that faulty faucet and plumbing on your own, and after six hours of locking yourself in your own bathroom. I hope you’re having a great day!

    Peter Wilson @ RumpcaServices