As I stir a shit stew, I wonder how I got so lucky to be up at five in the morning plunging away at clogged toilet. The brown water lurches dangerously close to moving out of the porcelain bowl and onto me. I might have to burn these clothes before dawn.

There are a vast many different variations of the American Dream. For some reason, being up before dawn churning toilet paper and feces did not seem to be one of those variations. If it is, it’s a very unconventional version of the American Dream and not one I wish to praise as ‘making it’.

I contemplate hanging an ‘OUT OF ORDER’ sign on the door like this is some dive bar and not a three-bedroom family home. I could use the back of one of the many bills strewn across the countertop and a child’s washable marker. I settle for just avoiding the problem. Ignoring it, much like the bills threatening to overflow on to the floor. Some problems just seem best ignored for as long as possible. A clogged toilet falls into this category. At least until someone begins to squeal about needing to use the facilities.

Unless you are still awake from the night before, it seems non-kosher to crack a beer this early in the morning. However, there are many exceptions to the rule. An alcoholic for example, simply ignores this rule and allows every hour to be happy hour. I am close to there, but the thought of squinting through one red eye at a simmering bowl of fecal matter while trying to balance and hold the contents of my stomach in seems less than appealing. Then again, I am up before the sun in a battle against brown water.

An early morning beer never seemed more right than in this moment. In fact, if anything, armed with plastic gloves and plunger this seems the right moment for a case of beer.

I contemplate never fixing the damned thing. I once outdoor-trained a dog, I am sure the whole family could make the adjustment. The neighbors might complain, but we will smile and wave like the friendly people we are.

The scariest part of having a beer when dealing with an out of order bathroom is that the laws of nature will inevitable catch up to me and I will find myself weighing the pros and cons of where to piss. In the sink or in the tub? Peeing in the sink seems a tad grosser, but it isn’t anything I haven’t done in days of debauchery past. Although, I don’t think I could look at the sink the same ever again if I violate it in such a way. Brushing my teeth would become an uncomfortable act. There is no amount of scrubbing I am able to do to clear the filthy image of pissing in the sink from my brain. I won’t even entertain the thought of using the kitchen sink. I could move past the guilt-ridden feelings I’m sure. But, to go from plunging to washing dishes? No, thank you.

The tub, on the other hand, seems equally too much work. I very well can’t urinate in the shower without actually taking a shower. Seems extra wrong to run the shower just to get water washing the evidence of my act away. It’s not something you can properly explain this early in the morning either. There is no way you can exit the bathroom after running the shower and be dry. It raises too much suspicion and only impounds on the guilt.

“I thought you were taking a shower.”

“Just peeing.”

To imagine one of the kids walking in on me standing there beer in one hand, trying to avoid my stream hitting their toys. That seems the type of scarring event eventually recounted in therapy. Or worst, the type of thing they repeat.

“Why are you peeing into the shower?!”


The brown water continues to simmer. I assume getting worse by the minute. Maybe with enough ignoring, it will fix itself, like any other failed relationship.

Just like any other failed relationship, I circle back to the porcelain to see how it is doing. See if it has gotten any better without me. A part of me is happy it isn’t any better. A sick part of me now relates the toilet to an ex-girlfriend and smirks over the fact it’s still a shitty situation. then, like any other failed relationship, the guilt sets in and again I want to fix the toilet. Treat it right. Because deep down, I know I am part of the reason it broke in the first place.

There I am, plunging away. Again. Unsure if I am actually fixing anything or just making everything worse. I  start to feel out of my depth. This is clearly a job for a professional. Here I am though. Playing house handyman. I search the internet for solutions The internet is less helpful than the beer. At least the beer is numbing the sense of failure I am feeling.

I have retreated away from the toilet again. It is just better this way. I find I really like the shirt I am wearing and don’t want to burn it because I got some shittastic water on it.

I sloppily write ‘OUT OF ORDER’ on the back of an electric bill. The beer has started to get the better of me and, as added bonus, made me feel a bit better about this whole ordeal. I cannot find any tape or thumbtacks to hang it from the door though. It feel as if I am falling into a whole new predicament. I could close the toilet and gently place the sign on top, but I know full well it will be ignored by children in the morning. Mainly due to the fact they do not yet know how to read. If they did know how to read, I am almost positive they would ignore the sign anyways. That’s just how stubborn they are.

Rummaging through the junk drawer produces no tape or thumbtacks. I do find some screws and nails, but they seem like a bit of overkill for an out of order bathroom sign in a three-bedroom family home. Unless, maybe, the bathroom is out of order forever. Then I will need more than the back of an electric bill and child’s green marker. To condemn something forever would, at the very least, require a wooden sign with ‘OUT OF ORDER’ painted on it.

My search continues to come up fruitless and I have all but settled on sitting in front of the door with my case of beer to ward off anyone who might try to use the cursed and beginning-to-smell bathroom. I could sit there, red-eyed, directing traffic to various trees in the yard.

Before I settle on becoming the lavatory guard, I find a bottle of Elmer’s glue. Maybe not the best way to get my sign hung, but it seems less over the top than hammer and nail. Also, the sun still isn’t up and I am beginning to enjoy the peace and quiet this clogged toilet debacle has afforded me. Maybe this is the American Dream.

I’ve glued my sign to the door and decided to sit in front of it anyways. The kids are still illiterate and will still need to be guided outside. I sit and I wait for the sun to rise so I can call a true handyman. This shit situation clearly calls for a professional. I am just a man with a plunger and a now half case of beer.

Oh, and a difficult decision to make.

In the sink or in the tub?

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