Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Wet Spot

This is the story of Z, the Hero.

The Dog House was cursed by angry gods of water and sewage at some point, and now whenever I am here, there is . . . wetness.

On my watch, the finished basement has flooded three times, the ice maker has sprung a leak and flooded the kitchen and living room twice (for which the previous Scottie was soundly chastised until I realized no matter how full his little bladder, he could not have made a mess that covered so much square footage), the outside water faucet has gone wonky once and backed water into the guest bathroom, the garbage disposal has broken twice, the city sewer has threatened to fill the house, the fountain that aerates the pond has broken multiple times, and all three toilets at one time or another have had issues. It is uncommon for me to stay here and NOT have to get out the wet vac, so you’d think I’d be prepared.

But no. Very late last night Z and I were up wet vaccing the master bedroom, bath, as well as the basement underneath these rooms because the toilet overflowed while we slept.

I was rendered completely useless, like one of those idiot women in the movies who wrings her hands and moans “ooooo…..oooooo” while a burglar pummels the husband. She could whack the burglar with a frying pan, but no, she stands, quaking, and saying oooooooooo. I’ve been staying in this house since I was in high school, yet suddenly I had no earthly idea how to attack this problem. I momentarily considered grabbing the dog, locking the door behind us, and spending the rest of the next two weeks at a dog-friendly motel.

Z though, he was amazing. He immediately leapt out of bed and came up with a plan. He knew the practical things to do, like turn the water off, and also the clever things like where the wet vac was because two years ago he was here when there was another water crisis. He exerted the majority of the strength needed to move the giant dresser. While I was wringing my hands and toe-dabbing at a small duck pond with a hand towel, he did the wet vaccing and managed to keep up a steady stream of dog-directed conversation. Hello you. What are we doing up in the middle of the night making all this racket and interrupting your sleep, eh? Eh? And all of this while wearing his underpants and a pair of the owner’s paint-splattered cowboy boots.

I don’t mind telling you I discovered whole new ways that I love him last night. He worked up a sweat, scrubbing and emptying wet vac buckets, and I stood there, toe-dabbing the carpet and staring at these excellent legs and strong back and capable hands and I felt a little like I’d woken up in someone else’s life. Who was this man who could take care of business and how did he come to be in my life?

It would be nice if I could report that after an hour of this work we tumbled into bed and all was right with the world. As it turns out, though, the dinner party we planned for tonight very nearly had to be canceled because at five minutes to five (you know, when the plumbers are just clocking out) the city sewer was thinking seriously about backing into the house. Toilets gurgled and made the dog bark in Amityville Horror style and though the water was clean, it was only a matter of time before it got ugly. This was beyond even Z’s scope of plan-making and problem-fixing, so the big dogs had to be called in and paid overtime to flip a little valve that turned the tide.

The party was excellent. Z and I and the Scottie made good hosts in our fake house and our guests were entertaining and none the wiser that just a few hours before we'd considered telling them they'd have to drive up the road to use the facilities at McDonald's if they needed to. For most of the night, I had this desire to flood the bathroom again just so I could see Z in his underpants and cowboy boots, slaving away and affording me the strange joy of hand-wringing.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Z Minus Eighteen

It has been a long, hot summer, and I don’t mean that in a sexy kind of way, or even a melodramatic, Tennessee Williams kind of way. No. I mean it in the It’s not so much the heat as the humidity kind of way. It’s been miserable for the last two months and with some kind of protective shield around my section of Wayne County that has left us impervious to rain. The reservoir is nearly empty, the flowers look like they’ve just barely survived some holocaust, and everywhere Grapes of Wrath style clouds get kicked up by the teensiest of movements.

I’ve been having my own internal Dust Bowl as well, as evidenced by the lack of blog entries, lack of ready-to-publish fiction and essays, and lack of completed creative projects of the knitting, drawing, and gluing persuasion. I’ve been busy going places and seeing people and teaching students, but it’s always a little disappointing at the end of the summer to see all of the things not accomplished in what previously seemed like a vast expanse of time.

The Scottie dog is back from his cowboy adventure out west, and since his parents are gone on yet another trip, we’re figuring out how to deal with the heat together. Since we’re both of Celtic lineage, we don’t LIKE the heat. He seems to have complete confidence in my ability to turn down the thermostat, which is unfortunate. To make us both more comfortable, I decided that we’d start walking in the early morning instead of the late afternoon. The squirrels are much juicier and unsuspecting in the morning, and it has made the Scottie dog quite happy. The only problem is he still expects his afternoon walk and keeps giving me these meaningful looks in attempt to remind me that walking should take place at 7:00 p.m., not 7:00 a.m.

Z is in transit after two and a half months in Zimbabwe, where he has been dealing with astronomical inflation, food shortages, petrol shortages, power outages, water outages, telephone outages, and crap television programming. To celebrate his imminent return, I went out today and bought new underwear, three tops, and a new set of jersey knit sheets in Shrek green. The closer South African Air Flight 207 gets to America’s shores, the more sure I am that the drought is about over. The sky is clouding up as I write this, and it’s a welcome sight.