Several weeks ago, I noticed my loo wouldn’t stop running. The thing was installed around the time Madonna danced in non-ironic jelly shoes and a tutu, so in toilet years, it’s older than Methuselah. As with all geriatric plumbing, there are sometimes problems. Most of my toilet’s can be remedied by jiggling the handle a few times. Occasionally, I have to play operation in the toilet tank or be liberal in the use of Drano. But it’s always something my non-handy self can conquer. So on that particular Sunday night, when the toilet kept running, I went through my usual diagnostic: wiggle handle, check toilet tank, kick base, call Dad.
Placing an SOS call to my father is my version of a do-it-yourself white flag. The frequency with which I call is the entire reason I plan to rent until I move into the Happy Trails Extended Care Home. But not everybody agrees with my pro-renting stance. Despite the bajillions of homeownership pitfalls I outlined and every “and then the entire place flooded” horror story I could think of, Little Sister recently bought a condo. Predictably, she too has become a believer in calling for Fatherly Reinforcements. A few weeks ago, when she was putting up a towel bar, Little Sister apparently logged six Dad Dials. Her particular situation was complicated by a lack of appropriate tools. Men magically acquire things like soldering irons and wrenches. Women, on the other hand, get shoes. If it can’t be fixed with a wedge heel and a butter knife, chances are, it’s not being repaired in an estrogen-heavy environment. True to form, Little Sister tried to knock a bolt loose with everything from a cutting board to sheer willpower but nothing worked. Eventually, after my father suggested she heat the darn thing up, Little Sister got her fireplace lighter and stood around warming the bolt ala MacGyver. It worked and I give her snaps for dedication, but that’s more effort than I ever want to put into anything home repair. If I can’t remedy a household problem via extensive googling, some cursing and/or ignoring the situation for a reasonable period of time, then I call Dad. If he can’t walk me through a fix in five minutes or less, I speed dial my landlord.
So, when I called Dad about my toilet mystery and he suggested the break was at the Toilet Tank Flap Thingie (you know, the jobbie that keeps the water in the tank and pulls up on that thin chain doohickey when you flush), I double checked. As it had when I poked around earlier, everything appeared fine with the Thingie. By this time, the toilet had been running for at least half an hour. It was close to overflowing and not wanting a Great Flood Of 2008 repeat, I decided to turn off the water and forgo my pre-bed pee. Instead, I composed a gem-of-an-email titled, “PLEASE FIX THE TOILET NOW, OR SO HELP ME GOD…” sent it off to Landlord, and went to sleep. In the morning, there was a response. Landlord had arranged for the Official Building Plumber to visit sometime between 8:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. I would have to be around to supervise the work but he promised I would have a functioning toilet by sunset.
I was thrilled to have an excuse for a Personal Day. It was gonna be me, my comfy PJs, and the torrid happenings of Season Three of The O.C. In preparation for some quality couch time, I grabbed the first of my four morning Diet Cokes. And that’s when I realized I hadn’t engaged in any bladder relieving activities since approximately 3:00 the day before. In that 17 hour period, I’d downed a margarita, at least four glasses of water, and assorted Diet beverages. I was amply hydrated. And now I had to use The Ladies’.
As I saw it, my options were:
- Tackling my bed head, switching out my bunny slippers for Hot Pink Crocs, going down four floors to the Chez Apartment Lobby and using the public restroom.
- Peeing off my balcony.
- Delaying as long as humanly possible in order to maximize the amount of excess fluid expelled from my bladder, and then going with Option A.
- Repurposing the kitty litter.
- Squatting over the edge of the bathtub.
After rejecting Options One through Four on grounds of “that would involve a bra, which is the antithesis of Lazy Couch Day,” or “Eww, gross,” I went with Option Five.
There are certain aerodynamical pee principles which the vaginaed set deal with. First, aim isn’t always guaranteed; if you hover, stray spray generally lands on the seat. Second, utilizing a cup in cases of dire emergency does not end well. And then there’s the Three Drinks Rule: always sit after three, or on your leg you will pee. Knowing these things, I’m not sure why I went with Option Five. It broke the First Law Of Girly Peeing and due to my beverage intake the day before, I needed to follow the Three Drinks Rule. But I managed to justify my decision on the grounds that Option Five was straightforward, simple, and the least time consuming choice. So, I made my way to the bathroom, dropped trow, and squatted over the edge of the tub.
I quickly realized my plan was logistically flawed. If I kept my feet on the bathroom floor and attempted to squat over the tub edge, it appeared I was too short to project my flow into the tub itself. Not wanting to inadvertently miss and spray my Ikea bathmat, I revamped the plan. For Attempt Take Two, I climbed into the bathtub itself, squatted facing the faucet, and intended to let loose with the bladder. But, just before bladder release, I realized there was a high probability of runoff touching my feet. So, I turned around. This way, I figured things would flow away from me, toward the drain. Hygiene would be maintained, my feet would remain pee-free, and all would be right in my germaphobe world. Except then I remembered my bathtub has a slow drain and water tends to collect where I was standing. In essence, if I squatted in the tub, I would be wadding in a pool of my own urine. That was a bit too Ick for my A-type Sensibilities, so I reevaluated.
For awhile, I contemplated going back to Option One. It was a solid alternative and putting on a bra was an eensy weensy sacrifice to make for a hygienic, accident-free peeing experience. But that part of me that’s stubborn to the Nth degree? That will bite my nose to spite my face? That’s essentially a sucker? Well, it prevailed.
So, I climbed onto the edge and assumed the Horny Baboon Stance: knees bent, butt thrust as far over the tub as it would go. My left hand was planted on the wall, counteracting my horrendous balance. In the other was a wad of toilet paper. Should my aerodynamic calculations be off and stray sprays occur, I was armed and ready to wipe them up. Being as prepared as I could possibly be, I let loose. Two blessed minutes later, Operation Makeshift Toilet was a success. My bladder was empty and I was about to climb off the tub edge. I let go of the wall, took one foot off the tub ledge and at that exact second, Bionic Kitty charged in. She is fascinated by all bathroom functions, especially the tub-centric variety. This was a previously unseen activity and she was determined to investigate.
There is only so much width on a tub ledge and my teetering Midwestern Sexy bum was taking up most of it. When 21 pounds of Bionicness jumped into the mix, something had to give. Predictably, it was me. Bionic Kitty landed on the tub edge and with a yelp, I plunged backwards, ankles over head, until I landed spread eagle in the slow-draining pee puddle. Because God is merciful, I managed not to break my neck or hurt myself badly enough that I had to lay in my own pee until the plumber arrived. But still, my tailbone was in agony. And then, because it wasn’t bad enough, Bionic Kitty joined me in the tub.
At first, she just sniffed and splashed at the urine. But something must have clicked in the Bionic Brain: the pee puddle was something to be consumed. Just like the poinsettia or the bouncy glitter ball or my fish or the millions of other things she’s ingested. Nothing is ever safe from the Jaws Of Death. I was disgusted but I let her slurp away. At least this culinary adventure wasn’t going to cost me elevenity kajillion dollars in vet bills. Worst case, if Bionic got sick, I figured I would lock her in the bathroom and deal with the oceans of kitty puke before the plumber arrived. In the meantime, my priorities were figuring out if my throbbing tailbone was broken, extracting myself from the wedged-into-the-tub-spread-eagle position and showering. So, it took me a moment to realize the vigorous slurping sounds had stopped. I tried to look around the Bionic Mass sitting on my stomach, but I couldn’t see from my crammed-in angle. I assumed there was no more urine for the cat to drink but really, her focus had simply shifted. Instead of drinking the pee pool, she began licking my exposed private parts.
And Sweet Mother Mary, I was in such shell shock, I just laid there for a minute. Suddenly it registered that my cat was molesting me; that I was the inadvertent victim of Bionic Bestiality. Horror filled me. Tailbone be damned. With newfound purpose, I un-stuck myself from the tub, and chased Bionic Kitty from the bathroom. My pajama pants were still around one ankle, my pee-drenched backside was still exposed and I had bed head. But whatever. My cat had violated me and I was going to make clear that my vajayjay was a No Fly Zone for cat tongue.
Twenty minutes later, I was still hunting Bionic Kitty. She’d retreated into the abyss under the bed and I was crouched down with my naked ass facing the door, my head shoved under the mattress screaming, “Bad Kitty! Bad bad bad Kitty.” That’s how the Official Building Plumber found me. Apparently, I was so engrossed in obtaining vengeance that I hadn’t heard the knocking and he’d let himself in. With as much dignity as I could muster, I stood up, covered my exposed bits and asked the plumber if he could come back in half an hour, when I was decent. Stammering, he agreed. As he turned around, I shouted that I had one more request: Could I please borrow his biggest, heftiest wrench, so I could bludgeon my cat to death? He didn’t come back to fix my toilet for two days.