The Rear End

Sinking to New Levels

some men have greatness thrust upon them in the bathroom

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner |

My bathroom tried to kill me last week. And by “kill me” I mean “bludgeon me right in the face.” And by “bathroom” I mean “an old cast iron sink basin.” And by “tried” I mean “I narrowly escaped a trip to the ER.”

And by “to” I mean “to.”

Basically, by “my bathroom tried to kill me,” I mean “I had to replace my bathroom sink, and while doing so (all by myself), the heavy old iron sink almost fell right onto my head because I assumed it came out upwards instead of downwards – but – it didn’t plummet downwards until I was no longer laying on my back with my precious face parts directly below it.”

Everyone on the same page now?

The sink had been leaky for years. This leak ranged from “infrequent dribble” to “Mother Earth is so pissed about the amount of fresh water you’re wasting that she’s having you attacked by neighborhood raccoons tomorrow.”

I got lucky. I was underneath the sink, straining to unscrew a bunch of screws for a good 15 minutes before standing up to remove the faucet handles. I had barely touched the handle with my screwdriver when BAMZO. The sink slammed down into the cabinetry below, leaving a big gouge where the drain pipe stabbed into the painted wooden bottom. Like a spear. I’m not sure what was holding the heavy, old basin in place besides decades of dried hand soap residue and toothpaste.

My wife gasped when I explained what had happened. I told her I didn’t want to think about what might have happened. I didn’t even want to talk about it. Until now, apparently. Enough time has passed, and I no longer shudder at that particular thought.

Hey, wait a second. Let’s back up to an important detail. I replaced my bathroom sink. I removed the old one, installed a new one, upgraded the plumping a bit, and it doesn’t even leak. And I did it all by myself.* How cool is that?

Very cool is how cool is that.

Now, I’m not bragging about this, but I’m totally bragging about this. Replacing that sink had intimidated me for years. It was old and icky and the handle knob things had sharp jabby bits. It was constantly leaking. But I did it. On my own ....

... because I was too lazy to tackle the project until the sink just finally broke, and I had no choice but to fix it. I couldn’t wait for reinforcements because the sink had broken on. And there was no way to shut it off without shutting off the water to the entire house. Which would mean no showers, no flushing of the toilet, no washing of the dishes, no cleaning of the cloths, and no cooking of the delicious food that somehow involves water.

Now, let’s back up to another important detail. The sink had been leaky for years. This leak ranged from “infrequent dribble” to “Mother Earth is so pissed about the amount of fresh water you’re wasting that she’s having you attacked by neighborhood raccoons tomorrow.”

It was bad. I’d replace a few washers now and then, but the leak always returned, dripping and drizzling right out the spout. And other places. For a while, towards the end, if you turned on the hot water, a tiny stream of water would squirt from the cold water knob, arching into the sink. To taunt me.

Eventually, the cold water knob just broke and would not shut off. The parts were so old you couldn’t buy replacements in town. So I just capped off the cold water supply, and we brushed our teeth with warm water for a while. (It was weird.) Eventually the other side gave out too, unleashing hot water in a constant gush, emitting a swooshing sound insulting my very intelligence. It was a swoosh that said, “What are you gonna do now, tough guy?”

So I ripped the whole damn works right out of the counter. Or rather, I skillfully created an opportunity for the whole damn works to fall clean out of the vanity, almost crushing my face.

And that’s about it. Miraculously, the rest of the job smoothly proceeded to the non-leaky sink my whole family enjoys today. I know what you’re thinking, but there’s no need to congratulate me.

I’ve already done that all by myself.

*With numerous calls to my father-in-law (who’s done this kind of thing a time or three), numerous discussions with my wife, and numerous trips to the hardware store where various helpful workers gave me good advice. Other than that? All me, baby.

Journey Ahead

We all get old. In fact, some of us, right at this very moment, ARE old. V1's guide to challenges and opportunities of growing older in the Chippewa Valley. Presented by the ADRC of Eau Claire County