Shaddup Already!


Kneeling at the altar of the porcelain god(dess)

Have you ever thought much about your toilet?

Let me tell you, when it doesn't flush, you think about it. You think about it when you take the shower head to fill the tank so you can flush it. You think about it as you're walking through Home Depot, nearly missing a pole to the eye from a careless employee, trying to decide if the "universal" parts truly are universal. You think about it while you read through the directions on your "universal" parts convinced that nothing good can come from this venture.

You think about it until you're just plain tired of filling the tank with water from the shower head and you MUST do something with those "universal" parts that cost you under $10.

As something of a teetotaler, I'm not used to kneeling at the altar of the porcelain god, but with each toilet repair I make, I get a little bit closer to this fickle spirit.

Yes, I've repaired my toilets before. I do this, not because I'm afraid to ask for help, but because I rebel against the idea embedded in my brain by my mother's brand of feminine helplessness.

In truth, these repairs I've done are quite simple, if not aggravating. Basically, it's switching out one part for another. The problem comes in because the original parts are generally placed there by men. By virtue of physiology, men have stronger forearms and hands than women do. It's not a weakness, just the way we're made. So for a single woman to repair her own toilet, it means moments of extreme frustration and the feeling of throwing in the towel.

This morning's venture in replacing the fill valve started off smoothly enough. I needed pliers to wrench off the connecting pieces, but beyond that, it was turning out to be cake.

This is where that voice of doom comes in and says "I told you this was too frickin' easy."

I had a leak. It seems as though my feminine hands, which have been so useful throughout my life, failed to enable me to tighten the connections enough to prevent water from leaking.

I fought and I screamed and I nearly cried as I worked and worked and worked the connectors. I finally had to quit. I was dying of thirst and sweating as profusely as the proverbial equine.

I came out, played some computer games, sucked on an ice cube and prepared myself for a life without a toilet. Certainly this could not end well. I finally took a deep breath and went back in for the fight.

It didn't seem to be going well at all, until I started talking to the pliers that I was forced to use (despite the grave warnings on the toilet parts package about over-tightening and cracking the tank). I found that with an steady mantra of "tighten, tighten, tighten" I was able to make some progress.

Then the noise started. Oh god! I was convinced I cracked my porcelain. Now what was I going to do? A fill valve can be replaced fairly easily, that tank is gonna take some work.

I checked, it was just the sound of the fill valve scratching against the inside of the tank. I couldn't take it anymore. The stress was too much. I sat for a bit longer, wondering if I could truly live without a toilet for the next month or so until I move.

I gathered my courage and began the mantra once more. To my disbelief, it was working! I decided to try turning on the water again--no leaks! Whoo-hoo!!!

I finished the minor adjustments, couldn't figure out how exactly one should set the height of the float cup and decided that it was okay if my tank was filled slightly more than I would like.

I will use the toilet sparingly, lest something else should break and I am forced into another repair between now and July 10th. For I delight in the knowledge that my toilet problems will soon be someone else's. Someone with a live-in man.

For now, I shall live with an over-filled tank on my porcelain god(dess). Oh, and I might just take up drinking after all.


Help end world hunger