Saturday, March 12, 2016
You'd Never Guess as Much, But 'Stopples From the Silurian' Is the Name of My Plasmatics Tribute Band. But I Digress
I was no longer speaking to my son.
We hadn't had any sort of disagreement or anything. I like him a lot. If I didn't know he was my son, and I met him, I'd probably like him even more than I do. Because I know he's my son, I can espy resemblances to me, and that makes me discount his good nature a little, I'm afraid. I don't like myself as much as I like him.
No, it was simple weariness that had set in. It gets boring saying, "Go. Stop. Go. Stop." It's tiresome to say. It's tiresome to consider how tiresome it must be to hear. I slowly began to simply grunt, and after a while I just jerked my thumb this way and that to get the message across. He's perceptive, and he anticipated things once we got going, so even my thumb got a rest.
Most of construction is logistics. Shelter shows demonstrate very little construction. They show a host that's not a real worker pounding the last nail. They never mention that getting to that point is the real work. It's easy to nail off a sheet of plywood on a roof. Get that thing up there in a 10-MPH breeze, by yourself, and I'll be impressed. If you've ever done real construction, you quickly learn how to arrange your surroundings to make the work go easier.
Well, I know a little about construction, but that just added to my annoyance. I was in no position to bring ergonomic calm to my construction chaos. I was working below my feet, the absolute worst way to get things done. I knew enough to sit instead of crouch, but my back was screaming at me. Reversing the cable feed in the sewer auger was a kind of relief. I could sit up straight a bit.
Of course that relief comes at a price. The cable was going to come out of the pipe, and it was going to bring things out with it. You don't visit Beelzebub's Disneyland without exiting through the gift shop. Over one hundred years of other people's foolishness could appear from that pipe. I jerked my thumb to indicate REVERSE, held on to the whipping cable to avoid a proper drenching, and prepared to be surprised.
Out they came. The feminine pennants snapped in the breeze from the yardarm stay of my drain augur cable. Dracula's teabags. The things no man is supposed to buy at the Rite Aid. Tampons emerged like an army on the march.
Now, it's not up to me to decide exactly how tough a tampon should be. Smarter men than I have determined that feminine hygiene products should be able to withstand a shotgun blast and an acid bath at the same time. It's a given that they should be more durable than space shuttle tiles. Fall protection harnesses and parachute cord should be made from the little strings, if you want them to last. Kevlar? Pfffffftt. That's OK for stopping a high powered round and all, but if you need real protection, head to Walgreens and sew a vest out of these babies.
Every length of the sewer cable is ten feet long, and each one appeared from the poop soup with twenty-five or so little Tampax ornaments whipping around from it. I took a pliers and grabbed each one as it emerged from the pipe, but they held on like grim death. Some were tangled four or five in a bundle. I was required to return the machine as clean as I'd found it, so they all had to be yanked from the cables. They fought like Japanese army holdouts in a cave.
We pulled out fifty feet of cable, and the little devils made a substantial pile at my feet. I shoveled them aside, and we sent the cable back down the pipe. The second round brought out more than the first trip down the pipe. I could have stuffed a futon with them. I've slept on a futon, if you can call that sleeping. I just assumed that's what a futon is stuffed with. I could be wrong. It could be dead cats.
I quickly realized I wasn't playing Current Events. The little pillows were ancient history. They didn't say Johnson and Johnson on them. They just said Johnson, talk to the Old Man. These were bungs from the Baroque, Always from the Jazz Age, postwar Playtex, Tampax from the Tang Dynasty, Ottoman Empire occlusions, Seleucid sanitary napkins, and stopples from the Silurian. This was a museum, not a sewer system. I wondered if I could get some kind of grant to look them over and catalog them.
I began to suspect that hunter-gatherer societies had been flushing these things down my toilet. The former residents of my house must have invited people over to join in the fun. They probably ran ads in the Grover Cleveland Craiglist to come on over and flush your troubles away. It seemed like a determined effort to my eye.
My son and I went back and forth, fifty to sixty feet of cable at a stretch. I don't remember how many times it took. When we were properly lulled by exhaustion and repetition, it finally came. The magic sound. It was the sound a nurse hears while walking down the hall in the nursing home late at night. A horrible gurgle, as the whole organism lets go and slides away to a better world. The poop in the pipe was gone.
[I'll tell you how I put Humpty Dumpty back together again tomorrow]
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