On April 15th, 2010, on a blog that is now defunct, resting in cyberspace like a Web site corpse on display in a mausoleum (just like Lenin in Red Square), I wrote the post below about a plumber who plagued our pipes with his presence. He also bombarded us with life advice, as if he was the Bagger Vance of plumbing. Needless to say, we did not invite him back. Despite the fact that he charged us for work he had not even completed yet, we dismissed him. Despite the fact that he kept calling us and saying, “Hey, you’s guys! Whenamma’ gonna’ come back over and finish my job?”, we dismissed him. He finally sent us a refund for the portion of the work he charged us for but did not complete, which was nice. But as far as we were concerned, his work was complete the moment he said, “When you’s guys have kids, you’ll need to get ridda’ all ‘deez here cats. They spread disease and infection to children. I have X number of kids, and we had to get rid of our cat because we just didn’t have time for him, and he could’ve spread sickness to our kids.” 

The photograph above, taken last night and featuring my mom holding Baby Evie while flanked by two of our cats, is proof that babies and felines can coexist. Evie is perfectly healthy today. The cats did not spread the Bubonic Plague to her. They might give her love, but as far as I know, that’s usually a good kind of contagion. 

Without further ado …

A plumber named Joe – yes, that’s right – Joe the Plumber has been working on some plumbing problems at our house as of recent. While Becki seems to think this is something routine, I find it downright odd. I am, of course, aware of our very real plumbing problems. The downstairs shower, after all, fills with muddy water (but not Muddy Waters, the blues musician), as if its job is to make people dirty rather than clean. The toilet had a leak, and the sink was clogged as well (also with muddy water). All the while we have two other functional bathrooms.

So it is strange, then, when Joe the Plumber comes to our house and begins to tell us why these problems exist in the first place, detailing what he will do to repair those things. To me it is as if he is saying, “You have an invisible fairy on your shoulder, and she’s got a broken wing, and it’s really important that I fix it. Don’tcha see?”No Joe, I don’t see. But I will take your word for it, I guess.This becomes even more apparent when one of our functional bathrooms becomes a focal area for Joe as well. The diverter in the shower is broken, as my wife will acknowledge, but it’s not located in the bathroom we use in the morning anyway, so it doesn’t really matter. Ah, but it matters to the wife. So it matters. Understood. Furthermore, the broken diverter is symptomatic of deeper bathroom ailments. Our diverter is “special,” he says. Judging from the pesky placement of our invisible plumbing problems, this confounded diverter must have been installed by a mischievous leprechaun.

Fixing the invisible fairy’s broken wing involves ripping out the wall of the shower, delving deep into the plumbing, making a hole in the wall that separates bathroom from living room, and leaving a hole in the living room wall for future plumber access. “Jess’ cover it with a picture, ‘ya see,” he says. “Jess’ cover the gaping hole with a pretty picksha’ of a tweetin’ boydy.” Or maybe a picksha’ of an invisible fairy with a broken wing – heck, there might already be a “picksha’” like that on the wall, but it’s just invisible! 

It really is okay.  But it is strange.  I am very pragmatic when it comes to things around the house.  I learn to live with broken things, and when someone attempts to fix them I say, “But why? We have lived with that broken thing for years!”  That is just how I am. If it’s broken and you can live with it, why fix it?

Add to this the fact that Joe the Plumber said (on separate occasions) to both my wife and I, “You know, when you guys have kids you’ll have to get rid of all them cats. They spread pestilence.” Which, of course, is why there are no families in the world that have both cats and children, Joe. Clearly. I did not bother to argue with Joe because he held the bowels of our house in his hands, and he thereby held our bowels as well. Never argue with a man who is holding your bowels in his hands.

That being said, we plan on keeping our cats, Joe. But we might get rid of you. You might spread a plumbing pestilence throughout our house. The jury is out on this one. We shall see. So far Joe has left his bag of plumbing goodies at our house after hours by accident and had to retrieve it off the clock. To his credit, he has fixed everything he has touched in our house, and he works for a major company. This means if our house falls into the bowels of the Earth (I know, more talk of bowels), I can call his company and complain.

In the end, the jury’s verdict was: Guilty of overcharging (nearly $2,000 total), guilty of giving unsolicited advice, guilty of completely freaking Becki and myself out. Guilty, guilty, guilty.