In Which the Bathroom Explodes, Cubits are Required, and Murphy Monday is Postponed

I noticed our water bill was far too high for January.

Hellooo. It’s January. We just let the plants freeze to death.

We have low-flow everything (including brain cells). Hmmm.
I noticed one of the toilets was running, in a minute sort of way. Fixed it.
A few days later, I noticed it was running in an even subtler minute way. Huh.

At times, I take a page from Gone With the Wind: I’ll think about it tomorrow.

Shaun’s next surgery is on Thursday this week. The good news? She’s getting a brand new knee!

The less good news? It’s going to hurt. A lot. I figure there’s no sense waiting to worry. if I begin now, I’ll have a decent head start, and can coast into an absolute frenzy by Thursday without breaking a sweat.

I turn on the shower, get ready to get in, and wait for the hot water.

Waiting. Waiting. Dang toilet is still making that noise. Fine. I’ll turn it off at the emergency valve underneath.

Apparently the toilet has the maturity level of a 3-year-old with a boo-boo. “Don’t TOUCH it! Don’t LOOK at it!” I bend over simply to look at the shut off valve.

It explodes out of the wall.

A split second later valve is followed by about 100 gallons of icy water.

Very James Bond.

My first solution depends a lot on Magical Thinking:

NO! I ABSOLUTELY CAN’T HANDLE THIS RIGHT NOW. TAKE IT BACK!

I try to stuff the broken valve back on the spewing pipe. Have you ever tried to screw a nozzle on a hose when the water is turned on full blast? It was sort of like that, if you add in lack of clothing, Disney-Like water show sprays and arcs, and me screaming for help. Screaming is a good indicator of Magical Thinking: I knew no one else was home.

I believe this firmly answers the philosophical question: when a trees falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make noise?

YES. The pipe burst, and there was no one to hear me screaming. I definitely heard myself.

Finally, after bracing myself against the vanity, and pushing as hard as I could, I got the valve jammed on the pipe. Minor dribbling. Mucho pressure back at me.

This bought me some time to think it through, once I stopped swearing, and before hypothermia set in.

My clothes are floating around me in 3″ of water. I’m stretched out like a trussed pig. There is no back up.

  • The water needs to be turned off at the main junction, between street and house.
  • If I let go, a zillion more gallons will flood the house.
  • That timing scenario doesn’t include yanking on proper emergency attire.

I dismiss the running-naked-out-of-the house option. We all know that wishing this hadn’t happened is a much more productive line to pursue.

Annnnd….hypothermia begins to set in. To think I believed, only minutes ago, having high water pressure was a good thing.

I’m going to have to let go and let Act of God.

Plan A: Pulling on fully saturated jeans in under 10 minutes: unthinkable. 10 minutes at 100 gallons a minute….we’re talking CUBITS of water here. Noah’s ark levels of water.

Plan B: Hoisting a fully saturated 40 pound towel and slapping it around me: 10 seconds.

Good to go. Plan B it is.

Towel mostly in place, I dash out the back door, shedding water in sheets.

I stop dead on the stairs. Did the lock just click? GAH. Don’t think! Find the shut off valve! There!
I slam it down. I hear the water stop rushing into the house.

I resist the urge to wave at the neighbors as I run slap-slop up the stairs.

Door. There is a God. Unlocked!

I open cupboards and dump baskets. Now I can say ‘I told you so’ to Shaun, who accuses me of towel hoarding.

Water has spilled out the bathroom, pushed down the hall, and is making a bee-line for the bedroom. Doesn’t bother with Micah’s room off the hall. Huh. He’s protected by the biblical name?(Or the house isn’t as level as I thought.) I pull a register cover off the bathroom floor. Three inches of gently undulating water fill the heating duct. CRAP.

By one am, with everyone’s help as they slosh in, all the water is soaked up, a giant fan is on, I’m properly clothed, and we are once again safe from unnatural disaster and horrifying nakedness.

Shaun has found a plumber, and made an appointment for 7 am. No weekend overtime charges. Yay, Shaun!

Problem: everything is fine now, right?

Not according to my brain. I will no longer coast into an emotional frenzy on Thursday. The frenzy decides The Exploding Bathroom is what we’ve been working toward. Thus begins the hysterical crying, hiccups, and (yes) why-me moaning.

I hear feet shuffling and shoulders huddling outside the bathroom door. “Jane, what’s wrong?!” And
“Mom, you okay?”

“Nooooo….”, I wail.

Nothing feels okay.

My brain latches onto a random thought that, at the time, feels like a logical explanation of my overwrought state, and I respond:

“What Is a CUBIT?!”

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10 thoughts on “In Which the Bathroom Explodes, Cubits are Required, and Murphy Monday is Postponed

    1. AareneX

      My horse is .25 hands taller than me. In cubits, that’s….um…hold on a sec….

      Well, guess what? I don’t have the faintest idea what that is.

      (guess who was NOT a math major?)

      Reply
  1. sexinthelibrary

    Whoompa, whoompa, whoompa (ping!)
    Noah!
    Who is that?
    It’s the Lord, Noah
    Ri-i-i-i-iight!

    I want you to build an Ark
    R-i-i-i-i-ight!
    Whats an Ark?
    Get some wood build it
    300 cubits by 80 cubits by 40 cubits
    Ri-i-i-i-i-i-ight!
    Whats a cubit?

    Reply
    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      I loved that routine!! What I love even more? Cubits are measured in…wait for it…HANDS. Just like horses. Depending on the size of your current emporer’s hand, one cubit is approximately 7 hands. So. Awesome. Now we all have to go figure out how many cubits tall our horses are…so we can impress our friends.

      Reply
  2. Liz Goldsmith

    OMG. I always wait till the end of my work day to read your posts because I know they will make me laugh, even when describing the most traumatic circumstances.

    I hope that Shaun comes through her surgery, well, swimmingly.

    And just think how clean your floors are. That’s what crossed my mind when our boiler flooded our downstairs.

    Reply
  3. jenj

    Ye gods, this sounds like something that would happen at my house when my husband is away in another country. Having made that same dash to the water main shutoff (albeit clothed in more than a towel) while watching water jet 25 feet up in the air from a cracked pipe, I understand the fear of epic flooding. And it’s good to know I’m not the only one who hoards towels.

    Fingers crossed that Thursday goes well.

    Reply
  4. marion

    dear flood victim:
    I love a good plumbing story.
    when my mom moved into her condo, I had Guerney my plumber set a (whole unit) shut-off valve in the cabinet beneath the sink– a ball valve with an easy lever, not a gate valve like the one two feet away and counter-sunk into the wall. (the street-to-structure shut-off requires a special tool– and clothing.) months later, my then 83-yo mom woke in the middle of the night, pulled a lever whilst half asleep, and saved herself thousand$$ in damages. nevermind the lobster and champagne dinner, I made my mom proud ! [they don’t teach you That in grad school.] I was practically useless back home; but since here in NC can do repairs and actually excelled at mucking stalls which– for the few months of volunteering at the job– was one of the joys of my life.

    p.s. I now own my own pair of wellies, and one day hope to wear them to the Met.
    Bravo horses! they make everything better.

    Reply
  5. maddinaish

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear… Sympathize deeply, throughout my childhood there were always builders doing SOMETHING to our house, and as a result, many floods, boiling water pouring out of overspills, feet through ceilings etc etc. And each time it happens, it is certainly not any funnier!
    Hope that everything is sorted/remains sorted/ improves!

    Maddi x

    Reply

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