One of Paul’s common complaints about me is You never notice what I do! Well …he’s right.

For a week now, I’ve been praying for God to miraculously heal the clog in my sink. When that didn’t happen, I looked up online for a natural Drain-o. I poured down mixtures of baking soda and vinegar and flushed the clog with boiling hot water to no avail.

Then, I bought a variety of harsh chemicals: de-clogging agents like actual Drain-o and Liquid Plummer to wash down my sink. I bought one with a guarantee. The next day I was filling out the return form and digging in my purse for the receipt to send off to the manufacturer.

Finally, I mentioned the problem to Lee who recommended the snake. The next day, at the tennis tournament, he brought me one and gave me some quick instructions in how to use it:

You just jam it in there until you hit the clog and hook it up to the drill and varroooom and then you just crank it back up and you’re done. It’s great!

I noted how he reverted back to onomatopoeias to describe processes … suddenly I could picture him with army guys making fighting sounds to blow each other up and I realized that I would have to venture into a male-dominated world when I tackled the sink clog with the snake.

Sure enough, when I read the directions, I knew I was on another planet. There was mention of a thumbscrew and there was a big Notice: The snake is not attached to the crank and I felt overwhelmed. I felt my face fall. I remembered seeing the same look on Paul’s face when I asked him to dress the girls in a specific outfit while I was out, or to cook an unknown recipe, or to launder something in a specific way– a look of doom and failure and defeat all wrapped into a single expression would cross his face. I’d usually respond with an impatient sigh and a martyred expression of “I’ll do it myself!” as I pulled out the appropriate clothing or the cookbook or set the clothes aside for later. I treated him with the utmost contempt … can’t you do even this small task? Or … if I was in a kinder mood, I’d roll my eyes and rescue him, treating him like an exasperating but loved child.

But now, I was in his world, and I would have gladly taken contemptuous treatment or a patronizing pat on the head to be rescued from this dirty, frustrating task. I recognized that my prayers went unanswered so I could eat crow, so I could eat this humble pie, and feel what it is like to be lost in another person’s world and be expected to perform and not knowing where to begin.

First, I couldn’t find the drill. I looked in the garage. I looked on the shelves and at all the things hanging on the wall and in the bins and boxes and buckets and picked through his tool belts. Finally, I thought to check his toolbox on the truck and BINGO! found the drill. I plugged it into the wall and revved it a couple of times, feeling the Tim Allen WHOO, WHOO of testosterone that courses through you when dealing with power tools.

I eyed the sink and noticed that the clog had to be beyond the garbage disposal because the liquid passed back and forth easily between the two sinks. So, I worked the pipes loose, remembering righty-tighty and lefty-loosy, to unravel the fittings from the threads. Unsavory liquid bursted from the fittings as I loosened them and flowed into the bucket I luckily remembered to place there.

I jammed the snake into the pipe and tried to fit the drill on the end of it, but the drill opening was too small. I faintly remembered using the drill to install the girls’ closets and knew I needed some sort of funky tool or wrench to adjust the drill opening. Out to the tool box I went to dig through Paul’s random assortment of bric-a-brac which all was important to him … or not. After digging for awhile, it clicked that the tool I needed was attached to the drill cord.

I used that to adjust the drill opening and attached it to the snake. Vaaaarrrrroooom. Nothing happened. I thought the drill was supposed to unwind the snake and shoot it up the pipes. Finally, it became apparent that I pushed the snake with my fingers into the dirty pipe until it reached the clog, then I used the drill to dislodge it, then I detached the drill and used the crank to wind it up again. OOOOOhhhhh! Well, why didn’t they say that in the first place? Again, I was reminded of simple instructions I’d given to Paul about where the butt-paste was for the baby and marveling at his idiocy. He’d be having a hey-day with me today, I thought wryly.

I was on my back, surrounded by stinky liquid, my fingers blackened by grease and grime, when the girls walked in. Dagne walked over and kissed me on the cheek, saying:

Poor mama! Having to do Daddy’s work!

I finally believed I was getting the hang of it. I shoved the snake until I hit something, then let the drill rip. I was feeling all manly and powerful now. I did this a few times. Suddenly, the drill smoked and the coils wrenched apart and I realized the snake had doubled up and I was entwining them with each other.

I had destroyed the snake. I’d have to replace it. The drill was still in working order.

The clog remains.

I am humbled. I plan on making wild love to my husband everytime he fixes something. I plan on thanking him with abandon. And I will gently excuse him or patiently instruct him whenever he’s working in my world.

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