When I arrived at the old apartment to begin my week-long stay with the boys, my ex-wife greeted me in the lobby wearing nothing but a robe -- and a grimace that could corrode a car bumper. She was about to shower in our super's apartment because a clog had sealed off the kitchen sink, and the drainage had backed up into the bathtub. When I got upstairs and set my case down, there it was -- about 12 cubic feet of greasy brownness whose only saving grace was Thank God It Ain't Sewage.
This was Sunday, when all plumbers are too ensconced in their spelling bees and whist tournaments to answer a call of distress. The super took a crack at it for about half an hour, until the ends of his snake frayed (true) and he dislocated his pelvis (not true, but funny). So we ate out, and when it came time to brush our teeth we averted our eyes, lest we entice the evil ooze to rise up and stifle us all.
The next day the plumber got here at the crack of Ninety Minutes After He Said He Would and whipped out his snake, which made the super's shrivel in embarrassment. He drilled and ground and heaved for about half an hour until Snake Two also bit the dust. The clog was encamped, cemented into its new lair. The ooze burbled haughtily.
It was time to go get ... the Big Snake. The one they use to clear sewage lines and dig chunnels.
He left for the supplier and came back promptly at Two Hours After He Said He Would, armed with an inch-thick cable wrapped around his torso like a bandolier. As he affixed it to his drill and worked it down the sink, he said -- in a perfect Tony Montana accent -- "say hello to my little friend!" The struggle was epic, the kind that makes "The Old Man and the Sea" look like a four-year-old with a Pocket Fisherman. With each press, he worked his snake a little deeper. Around the corner, out of view in the bathroom, the ooze sloshed and hissed. It rose, it fell, it heaved. And then the two of us heard this sickly belch, followed by the unmistakeable sound of a geyser hitting a shower curtain.
And that's how I ended up in the latest place I thought I'd never be: Scrubbing grease, grime, and plumberguck from just about every surface in my ex-wife's bathroom. Whatever the week held in store, it would all have to be downstream from here. Right?