I am not, by most modern definitions of the term, manly.
I am under six feet tall. My features are not chiseled. I don't follow sports. My last two dogs collectively weigh less than the average Christmas ham. I enjoy shopping. My abs are less six-pack and more lumpy down pillow. I bake a mean loaf of bread. My gambling skills are non-existent. And if I attempt to grow a beard, I end up looking like someone who might loiter near your child's elementary school with a bag of candy and a van parked around the the corner.
But where I have, in the past, proven my manliness are in those home maintenance and upgrade projects that occur from time to time.
Need a room painted? Two coats in one day with clean up. Done.
Assemble a new cabinet or dresser? Stand back. It might get messy for a bit, but you're gonna love it when it's all put together.
Enhancements to a mostly barren backyard? How about a 100-square-foot paved patio with retaining wall and a fire pit on one side of the yard, and an outdoor theater with an 8-foot screen and surround sound on the other side? Yeah, I did that.
Unfortunately, while I can still proudly grunt and strut from time to time, a chink in my manly armor has begun to show. It started small, almost unnoticeably, and has grown into an epidemic encompassing three of the most important rooms in the house. By now, it is nearly impossible to flush any one of our toilets with any sort of assurance it will (a) flush on the first attempt, (b) refill the tank within an acceptable amount of time, or (c) flush without generating a screaming, squealing sound like the souls of a thousand plumbers crying out in vain for you to call a professional for help.
Fixing a toilet used to be simple. Chances were pretty strong the root cause of your problem was a flapper that no longer kept a good seal. Easy enough change out and cheap, too. Five bucks and a little water sloshed over the edge of the tank later and you were done. And if your toilet innards stopped working, you drove to the hardware store, plunked money down for new innards, drove home and installed them. That was it. Not any more.
In the past year or two, I've plunked down more money than I care to recall on toilet innards. Cheap ones, expensive ones, fancy ones, simple ones, complete replacements and partial repairs -- doesn't seem to make a difference.
This one didn't flush at all. That one is louder than a freight train. The flapper chain on this one can't be adjusted. That other one sprayed water ten feet into the air in a room with eight-foot ceilings. Even when you do get one that seems to work, you'd better hang on to that receipt because once you let your guard down it's going to find some way to mock and torment you.
At this point, I figure I have two options, and I'll let you decide which is the more manly of the two. I can either heed the screaming voices and call a professional, or I can remove the innards from the toilets in the house and hire one of our kids to remain on standby at all times with a bucket of water. What do you think?
© 2014 Mark Feggeler