Things You Can’t Put Down a Garbage Disposal


Our house was full and I was happy. Every bed had a loved one in it: Lisa and Matt, Mariel and Dan, and Mike and Mary, our wonderful friends from Georgia. On Thanksgiving we had more food than we could ever possibly eat and more laughter than we possibly deserved. The girls had cooked and baked, Steve had created his masterful salads, and I had basted the turkey till it shined golden caramel. We toasted with our favorite Prosecco and had a Norman Rockwell meal.

After dinner, Shatz took mom home and the girls were cleaning up. It was heaven to sit back and have a glass of wine with Mary, who I see only once a year. My feet were up, my eyes closing when I heard the words “clogged drain.”

“Wait till daddy comes back,” I yelled, knowing that Steve would fix it quickly. “Don’t worry mom,” Mariel replied. “I can unclog it with the plunger.”

Intimations of danger tickled my mind, but I was too tired to do anything about them. Lisa objected, saying that her public health persona rebelled at the thought of using a toilet plunger in the sink. But Mariel grabbed the plunger and attacked. Later Mary confessed that she had thought that all that energetic pumping might exacerbate the problem, but she thought it best to keep still.

They kept trying the disposal and plunging, disposal and plunging, while I sat there wishing that Steve would get back and end the uneasy feelings that were building in my stomach. As this was going on, Matt’s dad, Gerry, and Matt’s nieces Sydney and Izzy arrived. We explained the situation, and Matt took the girls downstairs to keep them distracted while Mary and I talked to Gerry amid the increasingly loud gurgling sounds emanating from the kitchen.

Steve and Mike finally came home and joined the fray in the kitchen. The two engineers put their heads together and decided that Drano was needed, so they ran out to find a store that was open on Thanksgiving. Returning victorious with two huge containers, they proceeded to pour it down our drains both upstairs and down.

Then there was waiting and more plunging until suddenly I heard Lisa scream and then shout, “Mom, whatever you do, do not come into this kitchen!” I had no intention of doing that — I could barely get off the couch let alone face a disaster in the next room.

Let me backtrack. We have a closet in our kitchen that we use as a pantry. The original owners had kept a washer/dryer combo in it. We got rid of it before we moved in, but the water pipe remained and it turns out that Steve had never capped it. So all these years later, thanks to a finicky disposal and a furiously plunging family, I was the proud owner of a closet waterfall — a river of everything we had put down the disposal in the past two days of cooking.

Before Lisa’s watery discovery, Izzy had come up to the kitchen to see what all the commotion was about. Bored, she began sock skating all the while singing, “My socks are wet, my socks are wet.”

Lisa looked down and saw that her socks were indeed quite wet because there was a river running out of the pantry. It was then that she opened the door and encountered the waterfall.

So picture this: The plunging had finally stopped, and the mopping up had begun. Lisa and Mariel grabbed some garbage bags and tossed everything that wasn’t sealed into the bags. Luckily our small liquor collection was on the top shelf so that escaped unscathed. The girls then scrubbed everything and Sydney dried it all off. They disinfected the shelves, the closet and the floor.

In the middle of all this madness, Steve came cheerfully into the living room asking, “Should we set the dessert out in here?” and proceeded to carry in an apple pie, cupcakes and cookies, while Snoopy went wild at the sight of food and I sat on the couch in a stupor thinking that I must be the only crazy one since everyone else was acting like this was all quite normal.

To top it all off, Mariel yelled out from the kitchen, “Look on the bright side mom. At least you can get a column out of it!” In our house, even plague is fodder for a column.

The guys finally admitted failure and called our plumber, Bob. They then spent the next hour troubleshooting over the phone with Bob. I’ve never seen two happier guys. They were engineers and they had a problem to solve and all was right with the world. They ran up and down the stairs checking water levels and water flow and drainage quotients and God knows what else while Mary and I sat on the sofa and drank the last of the wine.

So we learned what not to put down the disposal (and it is a very long list indeed!) and our closet pipe, like our chimney, now has a cap. I’m also left with a closet that sparkles. As Lisa says, sometimes the only way you get around to cleaning is when something explodes. My refrigerator could use a good scouring. Perhaps if I’m lucky a milk carton will self destruct.

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avatar Posted by on Dec 13 2012. Filed under As You Like It, Featured Content, Opinion. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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