Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Million Ways to Die in Your House

Judging by the local newscasts, the worst thing I could possibly do these days is drive over one of Delaware's many structurally deficient bridges to a birthday party with an outdoor bouncy house that blows into the ocean, where a riptide full of hangry tiger sharks voraciously lick the Level 200 sunscreen off my kids' faces, exposing them to the sun's harsh rays as they eat gluten-filled cake once the tide washes them ashore.

And that's before we get to the weather update. With dangerous heat, dangerous humidity, dangerous storms, dangerous floods and dangerous sun's rays constantly threatening our lives, it's no wonder the local weather yahoos  have named their segment after a Carbon Monoxide detector.

So the best thing to do for our kids is to not go anywhere and hang out in the basement on beautiful summer days, where it's cool and safe and dark, watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on 46 volume to clear the rusty din of the dehumidifier.

Which is exactly what we were doing when suddenly the middle child came crying like a Brazilian soccer fan over something he discovered in the toilet. (Should be no surprise that someone looking in our toilet would be moved to tears considering our house's already documented poor flush rate.) But in this case the tears were justified as a quick glance into the bowl gave us this latest threat to our well-beings:

Apparently the urban legend is not actually an urban legend. And apparently snakes in a toilet was an urban legend? The only urban legend I ever gave much credence to was the one where people hunt you down and murder you if you politely flick your headlights at night.

But immediately we flew into action, me to get a picture of the snake, and my wife to find perhaps the absolute worst-case scenario, just so I'd hurry up a little bit. The two-year-old, who spent more time around the toilet on this day than he has in his life to this point, brazenly flushed (so that's what it takes to get somebody to flush around here) and we were out of the woods.

So how did the snake get in the house in the first place? According to the computer, it's possible he--of course it's a he, that snake-- could have come in through the septic tank through a hole as small as the diameter of a pencil. It's entirely possible, the Internet continues, that a damaged septic tank can allow animals in, particularly if mice and rats are around. Dear God.

Or he just came through the basement door. There are any number of doors that we leave wide open in the summer, so it would shock nobody-- as we were settling arguments over bubble soap, the garden hose, or who has to use the littlest tennis racket-- that a snake, a bald eagle and three polar bears sauntered in, got what they needed, then either got out or got stuck in the commode.

The problem though is that, owing to either the strong swimming characteristics of snakes or the weak flushing power of our toilets, he came back 30 minutes later. And every time I reached in with my glove hand, (we could only find one rubber glove in the house) he swam back down the toilet.

So we had the suddenly brave kids stand watch while we poured Drano down every drain in the house in an attempt to get rid of the thing once and for all. After about four hours, with no return of the snake, we allowed ourselves to breathe. Then, while I was on the phone, my wife pulled the classic Abbott and Costello seeing a ghost routine while I put my hand over my other ear...(Full disclosure: I was trying to figure out a work issue. Seriously. So I didn't know that the snake had crawled out of the commode and was resting comfortably on top in the Klennex box. The Kleenex box?!?!)

Actually, it had kind of dried out by the that point, so we calmly picked him up and dropped him into the bucket and dumped him outside. Done.

All of this silliness further cemented my role as the "fixer" around the house, which is a joke (literally) because more often than not I have to ask my wife where the tools are. Somehow I got the title of "fixer" after seven years, just for replacing a roll of Scotch tape, tightening the knob on the bathroom door once, and getting rid of a snake after five hours and four tries.  THAT is why it's great having can be totally incompetent and nobody knows the what is that awful, shrill sound?

Sweet Jesus, I think we need to change the Carbon Monoxide detector.


Melissa Hartmann said...

I'm surprised the Drano didn't kill 'him!' Must have been a mutant with evolutionary Drano resistance.

JC said...

We thought we were good once we stuffed the Drano all over the place. The thing had 9 lives, or so.

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