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DIY with Details

By Joe Florance:

I never hear the details to the DIYs that fill social media; I just see the braggy result. Not my style. I can DIY too, and when I do (like last weekend), you will know about it, in detail. You may not want the details, but you will get the details.

In my bathroom, water frequently pools in the sink. I hate it. The sound of water splashing where it shouldn't splash grosses me out. Brushing your teeth at the sink with the pooled water not draining is nasty. I use a lot of toothpaste. A pea-sized amount is not enough. How could it be? I load it on like the commercials tell me to and all of it ends up in the watering hole that is my bathroom sink. After the water finally drains, the leftover toothpaste is now on the walls of the sink in clumps. I can't turn the water on to wash it down because it will pool again. So I use toilet paper to wipe it up along with any hair that happens to be there as well. Then I say to myself that I should fix this and soon.

A week goes by. After another gross sink experience, I go into my laundry closet and grab a long green device with nubs on each side and push it down the drain. I move it around a bit and then slowly extract it. My prize is a bunch of toothpaste-covered hair. That's what the nubs are for. The nubs grab the hair that is clogging the drain, but what takes the unrecognizable hair off the nubs? Technology has not gotten that far. My fingers do the walking on that, and it is so gross. I turn the water on to wash my disgusting fingers and the water pools again. That doohickey didn't fix anything.


I now have to go under the sink.

Double shit.

I am now sitting down on the bathroom floor. It's cramped and small and my body is rebelling. I forget a bowl of some kind, so I have to get up off the floor—hand down on the floor and then pull myself up with my other hand on the sink. It can't be graceful for even the most limber. I am not limber. I have never been limber. It hurts me physically and emotionally.

I come back with a bowl—a bowl I eat from. This bowl I eat from will be collecting whatever is clogging the drain. I then open the cabinet under the sink and pull out everything in there. That takes a while. I lay down a towel and start unscrewing the pipe thing. Too hard. Have to use the towel to grip it. Lefty loosey, but I'm all turned around under there. I'm tightening it. Damn it! Wait, am I? It's not moving. I give up and go to another pipe thing. I get that one loose, and the leaking of trapped water begins—on the towel and into the bowl I eat from. It doesn't stink that bad, but there is a smell. Maybe a wine connoisseur could give me an accurate description of it. I don't think it pairs with anything besides wet hair and Aqua Fresh.

I go back to the other pipe thing and just try to turn it the other way, and it finally gives. More water and a lump of something falls into the bowl I eat from. Looks like a rat. Not a rat but a lump of sludge. It's black and really, really gross. Considering what goes into that drain, the clump must be mostly hair, toothpaste of course, and anything that comes out of mouths when one flosses. That is in there too. It's out of the pipe that goes to the sink and that is all that matters.

Now the other pipe that goes into my wall probably has something in it as well, so I use my index finger to get up there. Yep, I find something and start pulling it out with the tip of my finger. Another black, gunky "rat" falls out of the pipe and plops in the bowl I eat from. I spin my finger around one more time and notice that there is something else in there. I can't press down on it with the tippy tip of my index finger, but it is there all right. Spongy, fibrous, and it is not coming. I try my middle finger. No good. Making sure my soiled hand touches nothing, I sit up and think for a bit. I want to get something out and need a tool of some kind.

My thoughts take me to one of the greatest days of my life . . .

Late 90s: I was in my apartment at UCI, in the bathroom cleaning my ears with a Q-tip. I know what you are thinking, so I'll include it. You know, you should never put a Q-tip in your ear because it pushes the wax down into your ear. In case you were wondering, it is so true. I was using one and all of a sudden, I was deaf in one ear! Blockage! I screamed my wife's name, and she came running but could do nothing besides tell me that you should never put a Q-tip in your ear.

I went to the doctor and he looked in one ear and said, "Ohhhhkay, not a lot of wax in this one." He looked into the deaf ear and said, "OH WOW, you have a lot of wax in there!" and lingered a bit to get a good look at it. He asked what happened, and I told him I was cleaning my ears with a Q-tip. "Q-tips are only to clean the outside of your ear, not the inside of your ear canal. Inserting a Q-tip into your ear canal pushes wax deeper into your ear. Considering the amount of wax in your ear, you have clearly been using Q-tips incorrectly for some time now. This is why your hearing has been obscured. You should never do that again."

I knew the lecture was going to come, so why stop it? He wanted his Q-tip moment; he got his Q-tip moment. He gave me some drops to loosen the wax because it would be impossible to extract it all now. Too painful. Fine. I was half deaf for a week while the drops loosened the wax in my deaf ear until EXTRACTION DAY. It was like Christmas morning. The drops seemed to be working because at times during the week I could pull on my ear and hear a glimpse of sound. Hear a sound of sound? I could hear something for a second. With my wife by my side for support, I looked at the doctor. He seemed confident.

"Okay, let's take a look." Looking in the deaf ear, he poked at it with something and then said, "The drops worked. Okay, this is going to feel really weird."

He grabbed a tool and started to scrape inside my deaf ear. I could feel the relief of waxy pressure and sound started to pour in.

"I got it. Going to take it out now slowly, so hang tough."

What did that mean? What followed was an indescribable sensation of a weird pain that didn't really hurt and a very, VERY loud sound of what I think a cork would hear when it is pulled out of a wine bottle—if the cork had ears of course and a way to tell us what it sounded like. It lasted forever until the doc said, "I got it!"

Upon full extraction and full removal, my deaf ear heard like it never heard before. I could hear everything, everywhere. The euphoric feeling of hearing lasted for a brief moment until normalcy returned. My ear heard Heaven that day, and I cherish it in my heart.

The doctor then said, "Here it is!" and spun around showing me and my wife what I can only describe as a chewed up Sugar Daddy. It was tar-like and syrupy and wrapped around that tool like a goodly amount of honey. It was my golden calf, and I worshiped it. My wife screamed, and the doctor threw it away. That has been one of my biggest regrets in this life. I would have jarred it and showed it to people forever. Parties, mixers, interviews, weddings, there I'd be with my jar of ear wax. Would have named it. Nothing cute.

"This is my friend, Wax." Simple. Clean. Gone. I couldn't even say goodbye.

I left that day hearing but incomplete. I still use Q-tips by the by. I insert it into the canal just a bit but instead of going in deep, I stay at the opening and bang all sides of the canal. After a couple hits, I can hear the wax gathering on the Q-tip. Score. I've used this insertion method in other arenas to similar satisfaction.

Before my mind wanders any further, I think of that tool the doctor used to get to Wax. That tool was thin and had a slightly curved head with a loop at the end of it. It's called a curette, and it gave me the gift of hearing and took from me my friend, Wax. A cruel mistress. This sink-clog job needs a curette.

I think some more and spring to action. With my clean hand, I look in my closet and find a wire hanger. I unwind it and form the hanger into a loop and go back to business. I insert my handmade curette deep and start to scrape. As I slowly pull it out, plops of "rats" fall into the bowl I eat from. I reinsert it a number of times until the plops end. I dump the pipe water, rat plops, and everything else out of the bowl I eat from into the toilet. Flush. I go into the kitchen and hand wash the bowl I eat from and put it in the dishwasher for a double wash. I'll need that for my fiber cereal and blueberries in the morning. I wash my dirty hand thoroughly.

Back to the sink, I return the pipe things and tighten them. It is tight, son! Not too tight, son! Run the water. Clogless! Check for leaks. Bone dry, bitch! Put all the shit back under the sink. Close the cabinet doors and readjust the one with the broken hinge. Not today, hinge!

I stand, turn on the water, and wash my hands again.

No pooling.

No splashing.

DIY with details.


Joe Florance owns and operates Circle of 10 Talent. He encourages people to pursue their dreams, and helping them do that fulfills his own.

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