Talk about a week gone down the tubes…

I thought I was doing a good thing two falls ago when I moved from my apartment to a stately condo on the other side of town. The neighborhood was nicer (read: more expensive), and of course, the square footage was nothing to shake a stick at, either! I moved up from 880 square feet to over 1300, and for those of you who’ve read this far and are by now beginning to wonder if this whole column is going to be about statistical analysis – now don’t you worry. It’s actually going to be about the joys of fixing toilets, but please allow me to build up to it and for God sakes, stop interrupting!

Maybe it’s just a guy thing, but when it comes to living quarters, square footage is really our bread and butter because even if those square feet are going to be dominated by fluffy toilet seat cushions and collectable porcelain dolls and other miscellaneous chick things brought into the household by our significant lady friends, that need not be brought up whilst bragging among other men. For example:

“My new house is 2700 square feet.”
“That’s pretty impressive, Bob, but not as manly as mine – we’re adding on a guest room, which will bring us up to 3300 square feet.”
“My apartment is 800 square feet, but it’s very roomy…”
“And that’s why we don’t have poker night at your place, Steve…”

Unfortunately, however, with great square footage comes great responsibility … in the form of maintenance because that 1300 square feet isn’t just one gigantic room, as cool as that would actually be! It’s divided up in a number of your standard rooms – 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, etc… – but the ones that have really got my gears grinding this week are the bathrooms. According to the leasing paperwork, I have exactly one and a half bathrooms, although as far as I’m concerned, that extra half bathroom comes along with plenty enough problems of its own to be promoted to a full-size bathroom! Come to think of it, I’m not really sure what the difference is anyways – it might be a foot shorter than the MASTER BATHROOM, but both toilets seem to break just as easily and that’s really all that matters to me at this point.

Oh yeah, and the other main difference between my old apartment and the new condo? I have to do my own maintenance. Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like reaching for the phone at four o’clock in the morning to call in a problem with the toilet and realizing that there’s nobody else to call because you’re already there…

So if there’s one thing that I learned this weekend, it’s that my next living establishment isn’t going to have toilets at all – just holes out in the backyard, and lots of shovels. I’ll never have to worry about having dinner parties again.

Just kidding, honey…

What I did really learn, however, is just how exciting my life has become when I get to spend an entire weekend – both days, mind you – driving around Tampa in search of toilet replacement parts. You can only bend that metal rod attached to the floaty ball thingy in the tank so far before the rusty piece of garbage breaks entirely in two, and if you think for a split second that they sell those kinds of parts in the plumbing section at Wal-Mart, you clearly have never had to do this sort of thing yourself before because the first rule in home toilet repair is this:

The first store you visit will not stock the replacement parts you seek, nor will the second. Only at the eighth store will you find the parts that you are looking for, but even then they will be so God-awfully expensive that you’ll actually consider purchasing a brand new toilet outright. Either that, or possibly removing the toilets in your home altogether and using holes in the backyard if you’re single or are looking to become single in the near future…

My own personal voyage for toilet parts took me to a total of thirty-seven different stores, many of which had absolutely nothing to do with toilet repair, but hey, a guy needs a break every now and then, and overall I ended up spending a spicy $32 total for said replacement parts. I actually got off rather lucky in the price department, as it’s not uncommon for your final purchase price to be three or four times the number of stores that you had to visit, but then again, I didn’t factor gas prices into that figure either, so it’s probably a bit short.

So the good news is – I once again have one and a half bathrooms (or two, depending on your math) that bear toilet facilities in good working order; the bad news – that I spent over thirty bucks and my entire freakin’ weekend to get them there. And while several ladies did mention that there are people called, if I can remember it right, plumbers who will come into your home and do said repairs themselves for a modest fee, I needn’t remind them of another rule that applies unfortunately not only to toilet repair, but pretty much anything else that needs fixing around the house:

Under no circumstance will one man pay another man to come make repairs in his own house, nor will he permit his significant lady friend to fund such repairs in his absence (as this is how many porno movies start and there’s simply no sense in tempting fate as such…). A man may, however, invite other men over to aid in such repairs, offering up items such as pizza and beer as a token of gratitude, but nonetheless the combined grunting of all other men must not exceed the grunting of the man who requested their assistance for said repairs.

I know, I know – it’s a tough code to live by, but nobody ever said that being a man is easy. Well, actually a lot of people have said that being a man is easy – mainly pregnant women, and their friends, and mother-in-laws, and effeminate men that find themselves still trapped in a masculine-dominated world – but have any of them ever fixed a toilet?

Yes?! How about one and a half toilets???

I didn’t think so…