Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Devil Toilet





It was three in the morning, right on schedule for these sorts of things, when Dave noticed a cascade of water coming out of the light fixture in the ceiling. He is a sharp fellow and deduced almost at once that something was amiss. Naturally, it was coming from the Devil Toilet. He turned off the water supply and tried to get back to sleep while contemplating a day spent plumbing. You'd have to pluck your nostril hairs at a leaf-blower concert to achieve a similar sedative effect.

It is a testament to Dave that he will always tackle a plumbing emergency even though nothing in this world makes him more wretched. And he's perfectly generous about spreading his wretchedness around to anyone within swearing distance. Every incident provokes a dozen trips to the hardware store and one to the whiskey store. I used to tie notes to the dog whenever I needed to tell Dave something was leaking.

The Devil Toilet has been a pain under the ass ever since it was installed. It's in the guest bathroom, and we never asked much of it. It just needed to be white and inexpensive, and when a super low-flow model was presented to us, we said fine. When you push the flush handle, it pins your ears back and blasts you right out of the room. It sounds like the space shuttle taking off. There isn't even any water in the tank. The tank just has a large rubber mystery bulb in it filled, apparently, with jet fuel. You most certainly do not want to be seated on the thing while you flush. The vacuum will suck in your entire fanny, making the toilet seat look herniated from underneath, and you'll have to belch repeatedly just to break the seal. If you are a guest attempting to sneak a midnight potty break, rest assured that everyone on the whole block knows what you've done. And that's if it actually works. The first two or three times you try it, it just makes hairball noises. Any one of these dreadful traits could be gotten used to, for a permanent resident. But it is the worst possible plumbing fixture for a guest bathroom.

So I was thrilled when Dave assessed the situation and declared that the toilet itself needed to be replaced. "Are you going to go buy a new one today?" I asked. "Nope," he said. "I think I'll just use the one in the basement."

This is an amazing thing. We can't ever find a pencil or a pen or a roll of tape in this house, but here we had an extra toilet just handy by. Not plumbed, mind you. It's just a toilet in the basement, stashed away where a passing drunk won't mistake it for a working item. We picked it up from an office on my mail route, where it was being replaced by a super low-flow one. (Heh.) Just in case we ever needed one.

The Devil Toilet and everything else that went in our house addition was professionally installed by Rob the Plumber. We love Rob. He's an enormous man, in every direction. He's about five thousand pounds, and he's not even fat. All right, he is, but not as fat as you might expect. When we first met him we were much relieved to find him wearing overalls. I'd pop in on him from time to time, checking on progress, until one day he was crouched next to the bathtub wearing sweatpants with the elastic in a state of complete surrender. There's a record of that moment on my retinas to this day. The Colorado River never carved out anything bigger. In retrospect, I believe it was a deliberate customer repulsion tactic. Nobody really likes supervision.

Dave got the basement toilet installed in the guest bath with a minimum of agitation. In a hopeful portent of plumbing to come, it fit against the wall without a micron to spare. I did ask--as delicately as if I were chucking a grizzly under the chin--if I could help in any way, and whereas in a normal household one might be asked to fetch a wrench, or mop up a mess, my specific instructions were to hold off pooping so I could "have one ready in the chamber to inaugurate the new toilet."

So I held off. The urge went away and hasn't come back yet. I'm full of anticipation. I think it's anticipation.

36 comments:

  1. Funny funny. We had an extra toilet for a couple of years only we kept it outside. Finally it fell over and broke. And you're right, those low floe toilets are LOUD. Had one at a hotel we stayed in. Everyone in the building knew what everyone else was doing.

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  2. Favourite bit: "elastic in a state of complete surrender." Hilarious.

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  3. Well written. Did you intend the line about the devil toilet being a pain in the ass? I liked it either way.

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  4. The commode here in the duplex is subject to Random Acts of Flushing, and every so often the bolts that hold the seat on, shimmy out of their moorings and kamikaze onto the floor. Sometimes singly, sometimes in stereo. I have been too tired this week to reinstate them, which necessitates precise placement of the seat before ascending the throne, and no hiccups once I am seated. (Thankfully, the other half of the duplex is presently unoccupied.) I guess this means that I have a Screwtape Toilet, whereas you had The Real Deal. And I think I have a topic for a future post of my own.

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  5. Phew! Two Posts Pertaining to Poop in a row! Is this perhaps a philosophical phase? Or will this passionate penchant for perilous piles pass?

    ..."belch to break the seal"...that in itself be worth several days of grinning insanely to myself every time I think of it, especially when I 'take a seat'.

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  6. Lisa, I think you need to refer to my Poop Posts on the left (especially Potoroo Poop).

    Lynn: check your basement for spare toilets or longer screws.

    Anvilcloud: I generally mean every word!

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  7. It is a special jet-propelled flush. We bought the same one, with the promise that it could flush 8 golf balls at once, during Rachel's reign of terror.

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  8. Hysterical! I'll be stalking, I mean following now, I may need plumbing advice!

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  9. We are also owners (victims?) of lo-flo toilets. No secrets here! I've heard jets take off that were quieter, and we used to live at a Naval Air Station.

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  10. Oh, man, I feel your pain in the assery. I have a lo-flo toity in my water closet, and it does indeed have a jet engine inside the commode. The grandkids are terrified of it. They make deposits and run, leaving me to crank up the engine. Talk about your pains in the ass...

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  11. Hmm, my super low-flow, double-button Coromas must have a different strategy. They're quite a mystery inside, so I can't tell you what it is. They're not loud--more subtle than the old jobs I sent to porcelain heaven--but they do what they're supposed to do just fine. I brag to my friends about my toilets. last year's sole house improvement. One problem: they're not funny. I expect they like pretty standard stuff; I mean they'd probably like to have the CD player set to repeat "The Fountains of Rome" over and over.

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  12. What a great story and terrific writing, Murr. I love this line: "Every incident provokes a dozen trips to the hardware store and one to the whiskey store." And the ending's wonderful. Funny, too.

    I sort of mentioned you on my blog today. Hope you don't mind.

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  13. This is a mystery to me. I've been to New York, Chicago and Boston and never encountered any noisy toilets. Here in the UK we have dual-flush toilets which release either small or large amounts of water, and they're not noisy either, in fact they can be totally silent if required. Australia also has dual-flush toilets. Perhaps your plumbers should come over to the UK and update their technology?

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  14. Murr, wiping tears from my eyes, you crack me up, woman! I especially love "pinning notes on the dog..." LOL!

    Plumbing is scary business.

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  15. Nose hairs at a leaf blower concert go me, adn everything else that came after kept me! Can I come to the book signing?

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  16. Just adding my voice to the throng - you are HILARIOUS. I'll certainly think twice before getting one of those toilets!

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  17. We sent men to the moon 41 years ago, but no one can make a decent crapper.

    And what an honor, to be the first to use a new old toilet. Or is Dave afraid to be the inaugural user?

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  18. By FAR the funniest plumbing story I have ever read.

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  19. Dave sounds like a dear. Or is that a bear. Grrr. Gotta love those 3 a.m. wake up calls! Glad it all turned out in the end...

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  20. I would say "LMAO", but somehow it seems redundant?
    And, on the issue of toilets, let me be the contrarian. We just got rid of our 1st-generation low-flo toilet, after cursing it for about 20 years. Ours was quite well-behaved, perfectly quiet and discreet, and absolutely non-functional. We had to permanently park a plunger next to it, 'cause anything that wasn't perfectly petite (ahem) would result in a slo-mo swirl that, uh, didn't exactly "empty the bowl". We are now celebrating the arrival (and installation) of our new, jillion-dollar dual-flush Toto toilet. Whether one uses flush #1 or flush #2, everything ***just disappears like magic***. After 20 years of plunging, a little noise is a welcome tradeoff.

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  21. I really liked your review. Nice information! Your content unique and meaningful about it. You doing very well job!.
    Plumbing Fixtures
    Thanks.

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  22. I have a dead rat in my basement which is really a 2 foot high crawl space and a toilet (in the house) that could flush a bowling ball that was added when the house was built in 1926 or something. Plumbing is a good reason to be a renter. Probably the only good reason.

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  23. "Nobody really likes supervision." As far as deliberate customer-repulsion tactics go...that was a humdinger.

    Another gut-buster, Murr...

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  24. Well, Ed, how'd you like a loud toilet that doesn't work anyway? Trouble with the Devil Toilet is that if you didn't take care of everything that needed doing while you were on it, you'd finish up after you stood up and flushed it.

    Dave would probably like to point out to the Radish King that he has to fix our tenant's toilet, too. And if anyone didn't click on Suburban Correspondent's links, they're missing something.

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  25. Thank you, Murr. It's a frightening tale I tell, but anyone even considering having children needs to hear it.

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  26. OK, dear, that was my laugh for the day! Thanks.

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  27. "...until one day he was crouched next to the bathtub wearing sweatpants with the elastic in a state of complete surrender." God, that's beautiful, even if the vision it conjures isn't.

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  28. "When we first met him we were much relieved to find him wearing overalls."
    had me rollin'!
    notes on the dog!
    so much fun
    gotta love Dave!

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  29. I love your humor and flair! Thanks for dropping by mine. Will keep up with you for sure!

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  30. You truly know how to pen a tragic tale. I just wonder though if the Devil Toilet was cracked, or its name was what got it ousted. I've worked on many a toilet over the years but never found reason to replace one.

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  31. It's quite possible we're, uh, harder on a toilet than some gentle folk.

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  32. I don't often write about toilets, but I do maintain a regular (heh) correspondence with a fellow blogger about the occasionally stunning contents thereof.

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  33. I love your humor and flair! Thanks for dropping by mine. Will keep up with you for sure!

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  34. "When we first met him we were much relieved to find him wearing overalls."
    had me rollin'!
    notes on the dog!
    so much fun
    gotta love Dave!

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  35. It is a special jet-propelled flush. We bought the same one, with the promise that it could flush 8 golf balls at once, during Rachel's reign of terror.

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  36. Thank you, Murr. It's a frightening tale I tell, but anyone even considering having children needs to hear it.

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