Monday, March 17, 2008


ON THE RARITY OF FAUCET HANDLES


This afternoon, after spending the morning trying to buy just the handle for the faucet that controls the water line to our house because the water cooperative upgraded the system recently and suddenly our water pressure was too high, came out of the faucet like a fire hose, which can be disconcerting at 5 am when you’re just bending over in quotidian innocence to freshen your face and you’re met by Niagara Falls so I went out this morning to the little stone grotto and uncovered the faucet to turn it down and the ancient thing just crumbled in my hand like this was subterranean Rome or something so there I was out in a morning that had been rich in other plans trying to find a faucet handle store and being guided from mystified shops to ever smaller, nonplussed shops, at last to a tucked-away plumbing supply house I’d driven by a thousand times but never noticed because I’d always been rich in faucet handles, and there I showed the guy in the parking lot the tissue-wrapped powdery relic and asked if he had any faucet handles this size, at which he raised an eyebrow or two, then did that Japanese tooth-hissing sound that means anything from we’re out of beer to you have a week to live, it’s a dreaded sound in every instance and this was one, at last he said that they don’t sell handles separately from the faucet unit itself and the yen signs began to climb in my head because no way was I myself going to replace the entire underground faucet mechanism I'd have to hire a plumber, which anyway was insane when all I needed was a handle but we now live in a world we have never lived in before, ruled to a new extent by plumbers, and in the way of things it appeared there was no way out, faucetwise, plus the fact of that ominous hiss, followed by a pause, and he began walking meditatively toward the warehouse, I following, sad relic in hand, where from a big binful of entire faucets he took out a tauntingly brand new faucet, odd how faucets can suddenly taunt, it had a bright red, uncomfortably appealing handle on it of exactly the size and type I needed but did not even remotely wish to use in toto, and he said well I’ll just sell you the handle then. We went out to his truck and he got a tool to remove the luscious ruby handle, I confirmed the size, still in disbelief and asked how much, when he did the hiss again, a quick one, said we never sell this separately, so I don’t know… 200 yen I guess (2 dollars). Bless him and all his family for as long as there are faucets.

Oh yeah, about the afternoon... I’ll get to that maybe tomorrow after I wash my face in tranquility.

8 comments:

Mountaingoat said...

The Beats, to my knowledge, never did faucets; maybe their priorities were all askew (stealing cars, smack, dharma, fire towers). Anyway you made plumbing entertaining, no small thing.

And yes, that awful hissing, closely followed by the declaration that whatever simple thing you want will be "difficult". When you find yourself doing it, all is lost.

Martin J Frid said...

The Beats could have stuck to faucets, the small things on which bigger things turn.

Bob found bliss in a moment where most of us would certainly give up and dial an expensive plumber. Five stars for effort.

Alice said...

Wow! You take the William Faulkner award for longest sentence that can still make sense and be understood, which shows what a good writer you are. That red handle is a prize! It was meant to be yours and give a nice ending to the tale.

Bob Brady said...

Thanks, folks; I almost didn't want to leave that beautiful handle out there on the faucet, where it works great, but is out of sight... I can still open the little door on top, though, to look at it once in a while...

overoften said...

The longest first sentence ever? Great story. :)

Chancy said...

I like happy endings...

Kay Dennison said...

I'm with Chancy, happy endings are wonderful.

Tabor said...

Gee, doesn't take much to knock you off of your Zen cloud! You should live over here and you would be much more adaptable to those $500 plumbing surprises.