Life Is Short-ish

sunrise

The blush of daylight at dawn

A cold shower

Long slow breaths, taken with purpose 

A moment to see that on most any spectrum things could be better or worse

Gratitude offered, because this small act is always within our power

The​ Living Room of an Old Person’s Home

Old persons living room V5

The living room of an old person’s home has a thing about it.  “Their thing,” to be precise.  Such a place usually has a particular feel, scent, dust/grime quotient, and a frozen in time quality, that is both haunting and intriguing.

The carpet, the furniture, and the wallpaper all have born witness to the arc of a life or lives that have gone from actively growing, reaching, and achieving to stillness, passivity, unwitting disengagement, and ultimately decay.  Once the occupants of this place were counted in the numbers of an up and coming vanguard generation.  The status quo creaked and groaned under the pressure of the change they demanded, finally acquiescing as a new world was forged by the sheer force of their will.  So it is with each generation.  Cliche warning: change is the only constant, until it’s not.

“Dad jokes,” ha!  The beginning of generational culture division is humorously summarized in those two simple words.  Dad jokes are the harbinger of connectivity obsolescence which makes them extra funny, or awkwardly morbid.  Take your pick.  

Getting older is a foregone conclusion, getting wiser is not.  Dad jokes are optional. An aging generation can opt for continuing education, the conscious act of learning about and remaining connected to the next generation, or not.  These options bear the seeds of individual cultural choice that if not planted wisely may well find their harvest in the living room of an old person’s home.  

I’m not saying that redecorating is the key to staying relevant.  Of course, such endeavors require the allocation of resources that may or may not be in short supply depending on personal circumstance.  Following trends and continually updating one’s position in this world is a slippery slope to be sure.  The justification for such efforts is inextricably tied to the end goal.  What can we expect a quest for relevance to yield?  

Social evolution is historically proven, factually undeniable.  To remain relevant one must acknowledge, embrace and act in accordance with the principles lifting that wave.  Here we are confronted with the specter of “Identity.”  The crescendo of identity formation is represented by the metaphorical “brand new living room” conceived and actualized at the pinnacle of a life where we make our victorious statement, whether we realize it or not.  “We’ve arrived,” and here’s the interior design masterpiece to prove it; insert modernist decor, steampunk accoutrements, colonial, mid-century or whatever statement seems fitting to illustrate the reaching of one’s personal triumph at the perceived summit of their material journey.  This perch is a victory that in its very achievement can, if we are not vigilant, become a living tomb.  An apex reached may by definition offer only descent as a next step.  That’s where choice, and particularly choosing to step outside the box becomes an engaging, challenging, potentially life-affirming if ego-threatening moment, and at best, a most welcome alternative to programmed obsolescence. 

I’m not suggesting that we don the sailor outfit our mother’s had us wear for our four-year-old portrait, or the nightmare ruffled pastel leisure suit style tuxedo we wore to the prom a thousand years ago.  I am however suggesting that resting on accomplishments of any kind leads to the possibility of disconnection from the inevitable; from tomorrow, the day after, and so on.  Retaining accrued wisdom while remaining open to fresh, if potentially identity challenging perspectives means we still get to be ourselves, but in liquid rather than solid form, metaphorically speaking.

Being relevant is not an inalienable human right.  Being relevant is a quest that requires constant attention, adjustment, acceptance of that we do not yet fully understand, and most importantly the willingness to allow for the possibility that identity is ephemeral.  In the game of relevance, personal commitment to evolution is the only winning strategy.  Identity, if not fluid, becomes the anchor that prevents us from riding the wave of social metamorphosis.  The real kicker is that our identity issues have the superpower of invisibility as it relates to our ability to honestly see ourselves as others see us.  Ugh!

If I find myself in the weeks leading up to my death stripping wallpaper, tearing up carpet, and fondling paint samples, it will be no more than a physical manifestation of my desire to understand the current consciousness of my children’s or my children’s children’s world.  My last valiant effort to understand and assimilate the language, challenges, and opportunities that are continuously spawning in perpetuity outside the soul prison walls of the living room of an old person’s home.

#metaphor

In The Company Of Chaos

Chaos JH

In The Company Of Chaos

Right now I am not…in the company of chaos that is. If I choose that the boundaries of my home are the ends of the universe all seems to stand in a state of relative calm. However, should I venture into the realm of online news, social media, or wander into the wrong place at the wrong time I find myself in a veritable shit storm of well…chaos.

As a rule, I choose peace. Am I in the minority? More and more it would seem that whether chosen or not, some manner of war is the order of the day.  Why?  Why stir things up? Why choose a harsh word, or a bullet instead of lending a hand, or kind word? Why indeed? Why choose to inflict harm, be it physical or psychological, instead of help or even, as a commitment to the possible benefits of non-action, resort to silence?

Human drama, a sport, a whim, perhaps a necessary evil? Is it evil?  To me, it feels that way, but I have been most fortunate in my life to always have Maslow’s hierarchy met, so who am I to say. Some in my same situation seem to feel more alive taking stands on behalf of those who sell division as a commodity.  Ego is a tempestuous mistress. I feel more alive when more people have the chance to join me in that act; the act of feeling alive that is, and at peace.

Balance is ancient.  Historically, balance seems to be the adversarial antidote to chaos. Chaos in turn, seems to be a human psychologically supported virus of sorts.  A virus by nature identifies, attacks and overtakes its host in order to survive.  Curiously when the virus has accomplished its goal the host is ultimately brought down, and so comes to an end.  ‘The virus’ having attained its goal of domination ensures by its success its own demise.  Chaos, if viral at its core is calling to the “Dionysian Being” in all those who will listen.  We cannot live in chaos for long, pursuing chaos we ensure only our own temporary fix of adrenaline, followed then by our unavoidable ruin.

Does the desperate need for meaning lead to this ‘run of the lemmings’ in our human species?  Some behavior I’ve witnessed would lend credence to this hypothesis.  Could the need for meaning instead lead to a reach for calm, peace, perspective…a pause?  One would certainly hope so. But where would we get our precious drama?

It is easy to imagine solutions when not under fire. Corrections or right answers seem so obvious in the tranquility of a placid, comfortable familiar repose.  Many people struggle in ways I cannot fathom.  Others live opulent lifestyles afforded them by hard work, commitment and no small turn of good fortune, for which they most likely take full credit.  I’m not saying these beings don’t work for what they have but are we not all members of this world, and so potentially capable of perspective, empathy, and humility?  Be these situations as they may, chaos stirs, in and around us all.

Do we look, or look away?  Hiding our heads as long as we presume ourselves safe.  If the floodgates that have until now kept chaos in check finally burst, there will be no hiding from its faceless wrath.  What then?  What solutions will we wish we had committed to when we had the chance.  What sacrifices will we wish we had made.  What courage will we muster when the gun barrel finds us, be we armed, or empty-handed?

Have thoughts on the subject?  Please comment.  Life is bigger and better with shared experience!

Aiming For A Glass Of Water

Glass of water

 

Being single at 50 something on the dating scene is like jumping off the high dive aiming for a glass of water.

Divorce is fun…for masochists. It’s that moment when you realize everything you promised will end up broken. You may be an angry narcissist, in denial of course, or you may just be angry…no judgment. You may be a giver; give, give, give never take. You may be afraid of conflict. You may be a bully. You may be a nice, well-balanced person who made a bad choice in the partnership department. Whatever your position on the spectrum of coping mechanisms, behavior patterns or denial, divorce is the shits.

Will it be hard to start over? Maybe. Are there fish in the sea? Plenty. Will any of them appeal to you? Absolutely! Will those who do appeal to you be age appropriate? Highly unlikely! Online dating: Men with their bare-chested, or fish holding pix, rock on you silly geese! Women with their rudimentary photoshop skills shouting out “look at me” from the polished profile pic saying, “no really…I’m young” looking for a second chance. How could that pool have gotten so small?

It’s not easy to find what you had looked for so many years ago. You may have kids now. If you don’t want more kids the pool narrows. You may want dogs or cats in your life, you may not. The pool narrows. You may have voted red state, you may have voted blue. The pool narrows. You may like hiking or kayaking, or wine tasting, cooking classes, running, volunteering or even knitting/gunplay…the pool narrows. The pool narrows until you look between your two big toes and see that the pool has shrunk to the size of a glass of water. Should you jump?

Are you willing to come to grips with why your marriage/relationship ended? It’s easy during a divorce to cast oneself as the hero. I was exceptionally good at it. The facts more likely point to two sides of the story, and I bring this up for a reason. If we don’t at least attempt to understand our contribution to the chaos then we will visit that same ill fate on whatever poor soul awaits us in that tiny glass of water below.

So what positives can we pull; what gems can we glean from the denouement of a primary relationship, and ensuing diminished chance of future relational bliss? What understanding can we assimilate as we stand on the platform poised to dive into the narrow cup of opportunity that awaits us? An insight gained in the sleepless hours before dawn perhaps? Appreciation for the now not so rare moments of silence afforded to one who has no other? Pausing long enough to hear a truth about ourselves whether we want to or not? If we learn anything…it is everything in that moment. A moment of victory!

 

Have thoughts on the subject?  Please comment.  Life is bigger and better with shared experience!

Stepmom-O-Rama

Here We Go Again

stripper shoes crop

Juliet zipped her dress and gave herself a once over in the hotel room mirror.  “Here we go again,” she half spoke, half laughed then took a swig of Stoli straight from the bottle.

I peered around her well-preserved, thirty-something body into the mirror straightening my tie.  “If I have to go to one more of dad’s weddings I swear I’ll set myself on fire!” I said.

“Really? Oh, that would be so sad for me.  I’d have to go to all his future weddings without my favorite brother.  Besides I thought you always wanted to die in a killer whale attack.”

“Yes,” I acknowledged, “killer whale attack has long been my preferred legendary death scenario…and I’m your ‘only’ brother.”

“Which makes you a shoe-in for ‘favorite’ you awesome man.”  She laughed.

Both of my sisters are wonderful, but Jules and I have always been especially close.   Our senior, and noticeably absent sister Samantha was supposed to be with us for pre-ceremony cocktails, but it seemed her chronic tardiness had struck again.

Juliet handed me the Stoli, “At least we’ll never have to live with this one.” She smiled.

“True.” I mused.  “I suppose being somewhat grown up and thoroughly self-sufficient has its perks.”

The door flew open.  “Sorry, I’m late!” Samantha rolled into the room like a runaway circus train, garment bag, cosmetics kit, and other undefined bits of tiny luggage hanging from her person.  “What are we drinking?”

“The usual pre-dad’s-wedding fair…vodka.”  I handed her the bottle, and as her lips touched it, we had once again closed the circle, completing a ritual celebration that had been part of the Montfort family culture since we were in high school.  Other family’s had Thanksgiving or Christmas; we had Dad’s weddings.

Sam lowered the bottle, “Well, here we go again!  How long do you think this one’ll last?”

Juliet sat on the edge of the bed pulling on her high heels. She motioned for a bottle pass.  “Her name is Candy for Christ’s sake…it can’t last too long!”

“I don’t know,” I interjected.  “Bambi lasted almost 13 months…come on…Bambi?  I give ‘Candy’ better odds.

By now the average observer may be wondering why three siblings in their late thirties to early forties were in a hotel room preparing for a wedding with no significant others in tow.  As it happens, the old expression about the falling apple and the inevitable proximity of its final resting place relative to the tree from which it came is beautifully illustrated by our family.  That’s right, my sisters and I are all divorced.

The advent of dad’s pending nuptials had Samantha in a reminiscent mood. “Do you remember the screaming red Christmas tree that Cinnamon put up my senior year?  The place looked like a holiday whore house.”

“Who could forget,” I laughed.  “How about Buffy’s pink Corvette with the heart decals?”  To this day her dropping me off at school in that thing ranks among my most awkward moments.  Idiot high school boys alternately calling me a fag for coming to school in a pink car, then saying they wanna ‘tag’ my mom.  “Ew,” I’d protest, “she’s not my mom”…and as an afterthought, “and I’m not gay you assholes!”

My darling sisters laughed.  We’re a fucked up bunch to be sure, but at least we have each other.  The shared experience of growing up in the company of a fast-moving parade of “dancers” has had the effect of “Gorilla Glue for the Soul” on us.  Jules looked at her watch and grimaced.   Then as her right hand applied deep red lipstick, her left reached into her carry-on luggage sized purse.   Without turning her attention from the mirror, she found, apparently by Braille, and produced three silver flasks.   She tossed them at me with a playful wink.  “Fill ‘em up bro; it’s go time!”  As I poured and spilled the Stoli into the unreasonably small flask openings, I laughed to myself.  Thank god for my two wonderful sisters.  We may not be well equipped for matrimonial endeavors of our own, but we make a hell of a team at a stripper’s wedding.

We raised the dripping flasks high. “To Pops and…uh, Candy is it?” Sam hissed.

Jules snorted, which turned my snigger into a guffaw.  I quickly composed myself.  Cleared my throat and in my best, if hastily conceived oratorical tone confirmed the name of the stepmom de jour.  “Yes, yes, to Pops and Candy, and the two most wonderfully inappropriate, dazzlingly witty and truly lovely siblings-in-arms a brother could ask for!”

“Goddamnit,” Jules scolded.  “If you make me tear up I’ll wipe my runny-makeup face all over that white shirt!”    I laughed.  We finished the toast with the clink of silver and a quick slug.  Next stop, stepmom-o-rama!

#fiction

Have thoughts on the subject?  Please comment.  Life is bigger and better with shared experience!

Last Day On Earth

earth

Last Day On Earth

What would I do if I learned that today was my last day on earth?  Hmmm, if we asked a random group of people that question we’ed get a spectrum of answers.  Would the spectrum be narrow, the answers similar, or would they be divergent, deeply personal and unlikely to overlap?  Some might say; “I’d want to be with my family.” Others might choose to find a pound of cocaine and dance naked in a rainstorm of hookers.  Might some go skydiving?  Or Google the one love that got away and purchase a plane ticket, or find a church and pray until their tongue cramped?  Perhaps some would hide in bed, crying away their last hours.

I imagine the answers might share some commonalities if the interviewees found themselves in a similar place on the arcs of their lives.  If not, the answers could be strewn all over the mental universe.  I, for example, am a parent, and so would hope that some part of that ‘last day’ could be spent with the children whom I love and cherish more than anything in this world.  What if that weren’t possible.  What if I learned at 6am that my life would end at midnight and both of my sons were nowhere to be found?  Maybe they’d be hiking some distant mountain range, or off on a hitchhiking adventure across Canada…whatever.  The point here being, the desired spend of my last few hours would not be attainable.  Were that the case I would have to find another way to make the most of my last hours as an earthling.   I could spend my last day lamenting this misfortune, or?  What would you do?

Perhaps there’s a better question to ask.  Maybe we’ed be better served by taking a less conventional approach, asking a different question than “What would I do if it was my last day on earth?”  The query, “what I’d do” is powerful, yet impractical.  If I’m asking to learn anything other than how I’d choose to use a minuscule number of hours that, statistically speaking, I’m unlikely to be presented with, it has little value.  This is because the probability of finding ourselves in such a situation is infinitesimally low.

Having a plan is excellent.  Carrying jumper cables in the trunk for example, or hiding a key to the front door under a rock in the yard are precautions likely to at some point take center stage under the “usefulness spotlight.”  These are premeditated solutions to scenarios we are likely to face.  I was not a Boy Scout, but I have borrowed, and benefitted from the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.”

It dawned on me today while out mountain biking in the color-rich Autumn woods, that I’d be better served if I knew the answer not to “What would I do if this was my last day on earth,”  But HOW I would do it!  How would I approach it…living my last day?  What attitude would I take?  The “how“ can be controlled, focused, owned.  The “what” cannot.  Perhaps you’ve already been down this philosophical road.  For me, it’s a new perspective.  I hadn’t spent time comparing the value of the endless passing days of my long-ass life to the single day that I knew would be my last.  “How” would I approach it?  Suddenly I felt in complete control of my last day on earth!  That, I could choose without the need for permission or the hope of right timing.

In my case pondering this ‘How’ made the lingering color of the late Autumn woods brighter to my eye.  The definition of things sharpened.  If I knew this was my last look at the majesty of life, I would look closer, deeper.  This perspective caused my energy to swell dramatically.  I took the jumps higher, the hills faster.  The strength, love, the gratitude within me grew noticeably, all because of a thought.  I dare say I had a bit of a Grinch-like moment of realization, and everything in the world was better, more meaningful and more of a gift than it had been in the moments before.

The expression “live every day as though it were you last” therefore may be commonly misconstrued, or at least in my case misapplied.  It tends to call up the ‘What’ when in fact it’s the ‘How to accept/approach it’ that may be the true gift hidden in that cat-poster quote.  On any day leading up to my last the answer to the question “How” I would choose to live my last day on earth is a gift, a revelation, a tool that can be used to make every day more than it otherwise might have been.  So Namaste friends, Nama-f’ing-ste.

Have thoughts on the subject?  Please comment.  Life is bigger and better with shared experience!

Free Fall

Free Fall JH 2

“What do you mean ‘bad’?” I asked.

“I think it’s self-explanatory.” He said.

“Nice bedside manner doc!”

He reached into his lab coat and produced a flask and two plastic shot glasses, “Cheers!”

“Ha, we’re celebrating my terminal diagnosis?” I said with a hastily shaken tone cocktail of irony, indignation and false bravery.

“We all have a terminal diagnosis, my friend.  I love you, and this shot is to celebrate your life.  The life behind you, that left before you, and most importantly this moment, when we here together face the inevitable; the heartache, the confusion, the freedom, and the truth, that we all try so desperately to ignore.”

I found myself smiling in spite of the dour news, “I love you, man.”

Doctor James had been my college roommate freshman year, and my best friend for the last thirty years of my now seemingly bookended life.  Together we had surfed the waves off the Santa Barbara coast, chased the same woman at parties and fought over the outcome, ridden a motorcycle through the courtyard of a dormitory with frantic RAs chasing us.  This was the man who knew me better than anyone on the planet.  He had supported me every step of the way.  He knew when to say “I’m sorry,” and he knew how to forgive.  He was the perfect person the usher me onto the crowded tarmac for those awaiting passage to the hereafter.

“So by ‘no’ you mean there’s no cure?” I asked.

He looked me in the eye, raised his plastic shot glass to offer a toast, I obliged with a shaky reciprocal gesture.

“There is only one cure for life, and as mortals, we will all one day be cured.  May you rock the fuck out of the days, months, or years left to you.  May you know that I love you like a brother with all my heart and will ride this last wave with you wherever it may take us.”  He held his glass and my gaze.

Damn him; the fucking bitch made me tear up.  I killed the shot and immediately put my cup out for a second.

“How long?” I asked.

“I don’t fucking know…six months, six years, it’s so fucking random.  Let’s see, no sugar diets, kale, and on the uh-oh side, hidden guilt, self-hatred, or an emerging heretofore unseen badass extreme will to live.  I could tell you some number, but then that number enters your reality and who the fuck am I to shape your perspective on something like this?  I’m just a doctor.”  James laughed as he filled our little plastic shot cups.

“Let’s go to the mountains and hike.” He said.  “I’ll clear my schedule; we’ll go to my place in the Sierras, spend a couple of days and let this percolate.”

“Are you coming on to me?”  My super thin, false bravado wavering.

“Ha, fuck you, I’ll bring coffee, be ready by 8 am.”  Doctor J. hissed with a shit-eating grin.

“Thanks?”  I had to laugh.  Hiking would be good!

#fiction

Have thoughts on the subject?  Please comment.  Life is bigger and better with shared experience!

Adventures In Plumbing

IMG_0981

The kitchen faucet in our house has been dripping for at least a year.  The jar for our blender has hence become a fixture in the sink.  It’s been dutifully catching the drops of life-giving H2O so that they can be poured into our Berkey Water filtration system rather than down the drain.  That solution, until yesterday accomplished the goals of A. Not “wasting” water (my California drought guilt at work), ironic since it has rained here at least every other day for the last two months, and B. Not having to fix the f’ing faucet, I mean really, time is precious right?  If you’ve ever done plumbing work on a 60 plus-year-old house (which all of my homes have been) you’ll know this logic is sound.  If you haven’t you’re in for a treat.  Why?  Wait for it…

I woke up Saturday morning to this text from my seventeen-year-old.

Chris:

Hey I don’t want to wake you up

But the bathroom sink is leaking

It wasn’t until I ran water

Underneath it is absolutely soaked

I was looking for duct tape to patch it but couldn’t find any

I cleared out the bottom of it and put a towel down

It only leaks if you run water

Sent 5:37am

He did the best he could then left for work.  Love that kid, and the fact that he has a job.  The obtaining of which I had no part in.

So… great, excellent!  The bathroom too!  Looks like it’s time to address the elephant in the pipes.  After a to the brim full cup of black coffee I surveyed the admittedly heretofore overlooked bathroom situation, assuming that the faucet had gone bad.  Wrong!  I cranked the taps, crouched to survey the outcome and discovered that the drain pipe had a leak, and was shooting a firehose-like stream of water into the vanity base.  Awesome!  Well I may as well replace the thousand-year-old faucet while I’m at it right?

As it happened my youngest and I had a date that morning to attend the premiere party for the new TBS show Final Space created by one of his youtuber faves Olan Rogers.  Great show!  Loved it, and Jackson got to meet one of his heroes; a “Mr. Rogers” for a new generation.  Olan that is.

On the way home I informed JJ that we would be stopping at Home Depot to pick up the plumbing supplies needed to deal with our “situation” at the house and that his help would be most appreciated.  I also informed him that when committing to amateur plumbing on an aging home one must expect several same day return trips back to Home Depot…I estimated a minimum of four.  He winced, and said a silent “ugh.”

Upon returning home, I went straight to it in the bathroom.  Replacing the drain was easy enough.  Then, while assessing the faucet replacement scenario, I noticed evidence of the amateur plumber’s nightmare.  No shutoff valves under the sink!  Water to the whole house would have to be shut off to pull the old faucet and place the new one.  My thought at the moment…”fuck it!”  It’s not leaking, so I’m not going to mess with it.  Jackson and I cleaned/mopped up the bathroom mess and closed that case.  On to the kitchen

“Thank god,” I thought as I worked my way through the frat house mess we’ed created under the kitchen sink, at least there are shut off valves.  But wait, new lessons in amateur plumbing lurked in the very near future.  I stood up, stretched, gave the blender jar an informal salute for its twelve months of service, then dove back in.  The stuck cold water valve resisted for a minute then reluctantly gave way.  I closed the valve and moved on to the hot water side.  My past experience informs me that things are going smoothly, too smoothly.  My cynicism was soon rewarded.

I grasped the hot water shut off valve and began wrestling it to the off position.  This house was built in 1950.  Who knows how long this demon valve had waited for its moment.  Well, the wait was over.  As I broke it free from its wide open position something miraculous happened.  I didn’t know such a thing was possible. While cranking the handle to the closed position hot water blasted from the valve in all directions.  Within two seconds I was thoroughly soaked head to toe and water was rushing across the kitchen.

“JACKSON, I NEED TOWELS PLEASE!”

“How many” he shouts.

“ALL OF THEM,” said I.

The valve was only gushing for a few moments, but in that short time, I found my drenched self sitting in a quarter inch of water.  To stop the flow I had to turn the valve back to the on position.  The physics of this solution made no sense to me, but so it goes with plumbing, a dark art to be sure.

“Damnit!”  I have to shut off all water to the house in order finish the operation.  Tools in hand I make my way to the street.  The water main valve lay is a muddy housing, a spider-filled joy box if you will.  Leaning over the edge I tried with all my might, and with all the tools I had at hand to wrench the valve closed.  The value was neither impressed nor willing.  Shit!  There must be a shutoff valve in the crawl space.  By crawl space, I mean belly crawling under HVAC ducts in the dark, dank underworld of our humble cape cod.

As I made my way to the presumed location of the sacred “shut off valve” I was greeted by the overwhelming stench of cat shit!  Really!  Simultaneously, I identified the location of the valve and realized the fact that one or more of our cats had removed the vent covers to the crawl space, and had claimed said space as their personal outhouse.  A veritable cat shit minefield presented, complete with pools of cat piss rippling in the pockets of the vapor barrier.  Had I a free hand I’d have plugged my nose, but alas… Scent notwithstanding, I dragged myself toward the shutoff.  A quick twist and it’s closed…I hope.

From the black abyss, I contacted JJ via cell phone, “Turn on a water faucet on please.”

“Nothing’s coming out!”

“Excellent!” I exclaimed.

I dragged myself, somewhat disgusted by the state of our crawl space back to the opening and marched toward the car; a new hot water valve had to be procured; Home Depot trip two.

I retured with the new valve and proceeded to remove the old one.  Some hack rig coming from the wall that had male threading at all three connections.  I bought the house from a plumber…it figured.  Of course, the valve I purchased at Le Depot is female, male, male.  So, Back to the car.

Home Depot trip three engaged!  I wait an eternity for a turn with the plumbing guy.

“We don’t have that fitting…where’d you find that?”

“Under my kitchen sink,” I said…(in my head “duh”).

“Try this Shark Bite fitting; it should grab on to the pipe and work fine.”

“Chaa, thanks.” I left…at a brisk jog.

Back at home, hours into this ‘simple task’ I affixed the fitting, tightened the new valve and put Jackson on alert.

“I’ll call you from under the house.  Let me know if it leaks.”

As Buddy, the Elf might say, “I passed through the crawl space trap door, past the sea of swirly twirly cat poops, and then I crawled to the magical water shut off valve.”

“IT’S LEAKING!” He yelled into the phone.

“SHIT!” I don’t think I said it ‘under my breath.’

Back up through the crawl space hatch to the living floors of the house; which were now steeped in the waning February afternoon light filtering through the rain-spattered windows.  Resigned I went, back to the car, back to home depot.  As I stepped out of the car, I checked for my wallet.  On a typical day this gesture would be a gift to all pickpockets in the area, (so that’s where he keeps it), but not today!  “FUCK!”  I’d left my wallet at home.  Back in the car, I raced toward the wallet.  Twenty-two minutes later I was back at the Depot. The wait was longer this time, and when I finally get advice it was:

“That valve you just brought back will do just fine, simply remove those unnecessary parts in-between and attach it.”

“But what about a dielectric union?  You know the thing you’re supposed to use when you attach galvanized plumbing to brass or copper?”

“We don’t have those.  Just use a bunch of Teflon tape.”

In my head’ “Are you fucking kidding me?”  From my mouth, “ Ok, thanks.”

Back home.

“Ok JJ, hold the faucet steady while I loosen these bolts.”  The faucet bolts don’t budge.  “Please go grab me a hammer,” I asked, in a regrettably peeved tone.

He appeared in a flash with a hammer.  After a bit of a beating the faucet fixture came free, but try as we might the sprayer socket would not budge.  I climbed from under the sink, lower back complaining all the while for plumbing is a younger man’s work, and grabbed a pair of vice grips.  As my son looked on in horror, I unwittingly released a stream of awesomely vulgar obscenities while beating the sprayer nozzle viciously with the vise grips.  When it is over, and I had returned from werewolf to human form the sprayer was loosened, but still stood defiantly in its battered socket.  Jackson appeared to have mild PTSD.

Resigned, I climbed back under the sink and asked him to cut the sprayer hose.

“Use Scissors, hacksaw, knife, whatever please.”

He dutifully grabbed our bread knife and made quick work of severing the hose.  I learned later that the following moment made all the stress of this escapade worth it for him.  As he cut the hose and it snaked back through its hole in the sink top, it sprayed me in the face with its residual water load.  addingInsulttoingury.com!  Hose sprayed face notwithstanding I was finally clear to install the new faucet.  Ten minutes later I was back in the cat shit forest, earbuds in, JJ on the line.

“Ok buddy, I’m turning it on now!”

“Nothing.”

Me, “Really?  Awesome!”

My joy at this news overshadowed the scent of feline occupation as I belly crawled my way out of that ‘shit box.’  It was now 6:30 pm. We had somewhere to be at 7:00.  Back under the sink.  On when the valves, no flood, winner, winner chicken something.  To avoid tainting the new faucet I removed the aerator, closed my eyes, and turned the handle.  Water poured through.  Clean, pure-ish, life-giving water.  Success!

We collected the multitude of saturated beach towels from the kitchen floor, washed our hands, piled into the car and made our way to the “Final Space” Premiere After Party.  On the way, Jackson told me that for him it had been a stressful day watching Dad go maniac-style on the household water service.  We had a good laugh and spirited discussion about it after which he intimated that he thought we should keep the bludgeoned sprayer in our family museum as a reminder of this ‘special’ day.  So be it!

Do you have a similar experience to relate?  Please comment.  Life is bigger and better with shared experience!