Monday, August 18, 2008

Here's the thing about an old house in the country: you can count on most things going wrong. The door latches jam, the facade cracks, the windows don't close tight and termites snack on the load-bearing beams...
And here's the other thing: most of the NEW stuff you put in your old house ALSO goes wrong.. sort of like it's been infected by some virulently contageous "old stuff malfunctioning" virus.
At least, in my experience.

Hence the middle drawer in the kitchen opening mysteriously as though pulled open by a ghost looking for a paring knife, the bathroom towel heater burning out ( you need it in the summer in the mountains, believe me), the oven giving out and the fridge falling to bits.
I could handle all that. Not exactly gracefully, but I have been SO happy to be back in France, the little problems in life (like the huge leak in our roof) have been as water (hah!) off the back of a happy Franco-American duck.
But the relatively new toilet in the master bathroom completely refusing to flush did tick me off. Up in the attic, accessible only by climbing three flights of stairs, the thing was hardly ever even used.

I figured I could fix it myself. It's a toilet, not the space shuttle, right? I have an advanced university degree (Ok- not in plumbing. But never mind that) and should be able to repair a common household fixture.
I confidently got to work.

Five minutes later I was bitterly discouraged and tempted to use Bad Language, despite the presence of the twins in my office nearby. I hadn't even been able to get the lid off the stupid tank! I felt like an idiotic loser, unfit to wear the proud name of "homeowner". Can't even fix her own toilet.
Not only would I have to waste money on a plumber, he'd also be a witness to my shameful incompetence. I'd be paying to be humiliated.
Let's just say that I was woeful and chagrined, shall we?

So, with a heavy heart, I phoned up one of the local plumbers. He showed up the next morning, a big, heavyset fellow with the lowest, gruffest voice that I have ever heard. I brought him upstairs and he set to work, whistling cheerfullly. For a guy with such a gravel-filled voice, he had a pretty musical whistle. Nice for him, but I was definitely less than cheerful. I slunk over to my desk nearby and listless sorted through papers as I mentally berated myself.
"I'm such a dope! I can't believe that I couldn't even fix it! Couldn't even get the lid off. I am SO moronic. If we have to call a repairman for each little thing that goes wrong, we'll be bankrupt in year!"

But then a funny thing happened. After a few minutes, the plumber wasn't whistling anymore. In fact, he was muttering to himself.
No was getting louder. ..he was cursing! Yes, definitely! He was swearing at my toilet! And there were sounds of struggle and vast effort.

I just HAD to see what was going on in there! And sure enough, there he was, cursing up a storm and trying to pry the lid off the tank!

He looked up. "This is a tough one" he said grimly.
"Mmmm" I answered, with what was probably a strange little smile on my face.

I SWEAR that you have never seen someone as happy as I was to learn that her toilet was hard to fix. A "special case", the plumber later called it. Not only was it hard to open, the whole interior mechanism was shot. Not in need of a slight adjustment, but in need of complete replacement. Plus, it was a special model, so he had no replacements in his truck. he ended up taking the thing to bits and leaving the pieces strewn around my bathroom for four days until he could get back to me.
But I didn't mind. Really! I was just so thrilled to NOT feel like a completely unskilled feeble idiot. My self-esteem was again intact.

Don't you love happy endings?


Cyndy said...

Glad to see you finally came up for air. Please do keep the old blog as is for people to reference. It really is a good resource.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where to email you, so I'll just write my ramblings here today.

Thank goodness you are back in France where there are no riots, crimes, nor corrupt governments. Oh...ummm...nevermind. Could be could be back in the USA.

Within about 10 days of each other I received a wonderful package with two amazing pagnes and a postcard from France. Andy was seriously disturbed by the pattern "Freakishly Deformed Person Hacked Up by a Serial Killer" from 6/11/08's blog! Merci beaucoup!!!

Speaking of Andy, he is trying to finish 2 years worth of school this year. Pray he passes all his classes so he can graduate.

As for a name for your blogsite, I favor something like "BurkinaMom's Back in France". It would be a sin to lose a single one of your old posts. They are classics! Really, I can imagine that in a previous life you were Jane Austen. Your social commentary is every bit as witty and insightful.

Love always, Lynsey

La Framéricaine said...

Yes, I do, indeed, love a story with a happy ending! And that was a great story, complete with Bad Language-- which I also love.

I shall soon be living in a little old house, such as you describe, and fully expect to encounter my own version of your mis? adventures!

I like reading your blog and am happy that you are now in France. It's been hard enough for me to get Halfway To France, I don't know that I'll make it all the way to Africa, although I would like to try.