The Very Worst Thing – Monday November 30th

3777809806_177962b51cWhen the toilet stopped up I wasn’t too worried at first. It had happened before and eventually it succumbed to gravity after an hour or two. But this time things seemed a bit stubborn. I eyed the plunger as I kept trying to flush the toilet clear. “Ok,” I said to the long yellow handled device “I’ll give you your turn.” My more manly roommate was gone for the day, and a deep rooted psychological response made me prickle with terror that he’d arrive home any minute. So I called my mom.


In her typical calming way, she asked exactly what was wrong with the plumbing. I explained that it was clogged through normal use. She was unflustered and told me to plunge the toilet and the clog would go down. At 1:40 pm I said, “Ok Mom, I’ll give it a whirl. It won’t overflow right?”


“Haha,” she said “No. Don’t flush it, just keep patiently plunging.” We exchanged affections and I hung up. I walked back towards the one bathroom tucked into the corner of the tiny apartment my roommate and I shared. The floor was crammed with a waste paper basket, a scale, a box of old grooming products, a magazine rack full of SEED, National Geographic, Harpers, and the National Enquirer. I picked up the plunger and aimed it at the toilet.


At first I couldn’t get the right angle. I kept turning my wrist until I found the sweet spot and plunged slowly three times. The toilet gurgled encouragingly. Then the waters began to rise. Organic debris caught in the eddies of the powerful toilet water, which rushed towards and immediately over the rim. I began screaming. I screamed swear words that only people in prison know. Words came out of my mouth that immediately made my hair fall out. I stared in horror, paralyzed, as blue water poured out of the toilet like a faucet from hell.


The creamy tiles of the bathroom floor were covered instantly in toilet water and matter. Magazines, shaving cream and a sneaker floated past, carried by the flood to the deepest part of the bathroom. At 1:46 pm I called my mom again. She answered the phone: “How’d it go honey?”


onmyfloorsh*twaterahhhhhhfff*****CCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKK.” I said.


“Where is your roommate?” She asked breathlessly. My roommate. He was going to walk in the door, whistling innocently, unaware that he was about to be confronted by two inches of toilet water and a completely hysterical poor lucky me. I’m talking about 1880′s corset-and-bustle-fan-waving-near-fainting-hysterical me.


A word about my hysteria: I’m not completely laid back but have been known to be slightly useful in an emergency. But when one is confronted by the sight of a previously clogged toilet spewing murky blue water in proportions that bring to mind the sinking Titanic, one has no choice but to go completely f*cking insane. I assume this is a primordial reaction that has aided in human evolution. There are some things that have to be hard wired into our fear centers, or we never would have gotten out of the cave.


The door opened as I filled a third garbage bag with paper towels and soaked bathroom accessories. My eyes rolled wildly and my throat was parched from keening. My roommate assessed the situation in a moment. “I’ll call the maintenance guy” he said.


My nervous system zinged back from humiliation to frantic self survival. “No! I can’t let anyone step in here until I’ve cleaned it and bleached it! Anyone who steps in here will be contaminated! CONTAMINATED” He nodded and set up a system to quickly bring cleaning products in and waste out.


When the maintenance guy arrived I had to hunch behind the couch as he and my roommate discussed the origin and tenacity of the clog. I imagined what I would tell the psychiatrist I would surely have to visit for the rest of my life as a result of this. I wondered if Freud had ever written an essay on having to sit in another room after overflowing a toilet while two grown men have a calm chat over how to clear the drain. I hoped that powerful drugs were available to survivors of such an event.


After a few more minutes I heard the squirt of the bleach spray bottle. The maintenance guy was gone. My roommate was on his hands and knees giving the bathroom another bleach once over. “It’s ok,” he smiled “you can tell people I did it.”

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