With not too much aggravation, I had installed a bidet on the top floor of the Brooklyn house. The spouse liked it and said that she would like one in the ground floor bathroom, three stories below. I ordered another kit, which came promptly. I had learned from my first experience and applied it when I set out to install the bidet downstairs. I first looked at the existing water connection to the tank. It, too, was rigid like the one upstairs and needed to be replaced. Proud of myself for having made that discovery at the beginning of the project, I got another hose from what I tend to think of as the all-too-often-disappointing hardware store.

Let the work begin. I turned off the water to the toilet. The valve was a little tight, but even in my advanced age, I managed it and felt a little burst of not-really-deserved pride. I flushed the toilet to drain the tank. I disconnected the existing water line without too much effort. I installed the new hose to the water supply, put the new connector on the bottom of the tank, and set out to attach the new flexible water hose. This was a bit trickier. I had to get on the floor–always an adventure these days–to do this. Attaching the flexible hose’s coupling onto the connector with my increasingly less agile fingers took a while, but it was accomplished.

Then, as directed, I removed the toilet seat, which took a little effort in manipulating the bolts and nuts. The next step was to line up the new device over the toilet bolt holes, place the toilet seat above the device and those toilet bolt holes, and attach them both with the toilet bolts going through each. A problem. The bolts I had removed were not long enough to go through both the seat and the new device. I went to the all-too-often-disappointing hardware store only to be disappointed yet again. The owner did not have toilet seat bolts, but he fished out from his limited trove of useful objects some long bolts not specifically marketed for toilets. He assured me that they would suffice.

I returned home to find that they do not suffice. The heads and nuts are not big enough for the holes, and they drop straight through. I pause and wonder if I have some washers that could make the bolts work. I descend into the basement, which to many might appear a scary place. Moreover, no one would assess my basement “workshop” as kempt or well organized, but I pride myself in knowing where everything is. On occasion, my pride is misplaced. I search the cobwebby recesses in the dim light for quite a while and finally find some washers that have a chance of working. Up the stairs and back to the toilet. My brainstorm does not produce the desired results. The improvisation fails. My mind does not start spinning about a possible solution; instead, I begin to concentrate on all the times this hardware store, which may not be the worst in the world but is the worst of the many that I have frequented, has failed me, and I become increasingly infuriated, which I know from past experiences is generally not a good state for completing a project.

I decide to walk to a real hardware store a mile away and count it as my daily exercise. They have a selection of toilet seat bolts of different lengths, and I am so, so pleased to find longer ones than the ones I had removed. I trudge back home. I line up the device and the toilet seat, open the purchased package, and find out that, while long enough, the new bolts are too wide for the holes in the spouse’s toilet seat.

I try various remedies for a half hour. None is successful. Then I decide that with an electric drill I can enlarge the holes the bolts have to go through by running the edge of big drill bit around the holes’ edges. The drill is on the top floor, three flights up. I climb the stairs, retrieve the drill, and take it and the @#$&^* toilet seat to the basement a floor below the relevant bathroom. I experiment on enlarging the holes. I must find a way to hold steady the little piece of plastic on the toilet seat for the bolts. After some trials and errors, I find a method. I am making some progress on enlarging a hole when the drill’s battery runs out. I do own another charged battery. It is on the top floor now floor flights up. I retrieve it and go back to the basement. My method works and I enlarge the holes. Ah! Back to the bathroom.

I attach the bidet and seat to the toilet bowl. One more step. With surprisingly little difficulty, I hook up the bidet with the supplied flexible hose from the connector I had installed on the toilet tank to the bidet.

And now the breath-holding part. I turn the water to the toilet back on. NO LEAKS. I could hear celestial music. AND THE BIDET WORKS.

I started at ten in the morning. I finished at four in the afternoon. I thought: What else have you got to do?

It was just another successful day in retirement.

(concluded June 30)

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