When I bought the spouse’s bidet for the Brooklyn house, I got a three-for-one deal. I still had two more of the devices, and I took them to the Pennsylvania house when it was opened for the summer. It has two toilets, and it was clear that one could not be outfitted with a bidet. But one will do, or at least is better than none, I think. This won’t be too bad now that I have successfully installed two of the devices. This time before starting I go to my outstanding local country hardware store and buy both a flexible hose and long toilet seat bolts and set to work. Even with various difficulties in attaching the hoses, it gets done rather promptly, and it works. I am proud, oh so proud. I come back to the bathroom two hours later and find the tiniest amount of water on the floor next to the toilet. I wait and watch. A small–incredibly small–drop comes out of the connection to the toilet tank once every thirteen minutes. Really, it is not much. My first thought is that I can live with that. I will just put a sponge down and wring it out once a day. That should do. But I know that that attitude is wrong, oh so wrong.

I turn off the water and disassemble my work. I do not cry, not even a little. I remember that the directions warned not to overtighten the new connector to the toilet tank. I did not have this problem with my two previous efforts, but that must be what I have done. The kit came with some of the stuff that looks like adhesive tape but is much flimsier to help make good plumbing connections. I don’t know how to really use it and find I am ending up with a balled-up mess like my attempts to use Saran Wrap in the early days. What else to do but go back to the hardware store where I buy a slightly wider version of that white stuff and what might have been called in the old days pipe dope. But I still don’t know how to use either properly. Does the white stuff go clockwise or counterclockwise? Is that looking from above or below? Does the goop go on the male or female threads or both? How much should I use? Then I remember: this modern world has YouTube. I watch videos; all I really learn is that whatever I am doing is wrong. However, I boost my confidence by telling myself, more than once, that I have installed two of these gizmos successfully. A third cannot be far off.

I wrap and slather the connector and put it back on the toilet tank and hope without reasonable expectations that I have not tightened it too much. The flexible hose, however, has seemed to come alive. An animate force seems to be fighting me as I try to thread it on to the connector in the tight place near the wall under the toilet. Although I had done it before, I can’t line it up properly to get it started. There, I have got it, but that was delusional because a slight tug pulls it to the floor. Try again. Try again. And try again. My fingers no longer work well enough. Let me regroup and try again tomorrow.  I have another toilet to use, and I can still flush this one with a bucket of water.

The next day does not bring success. And the day after produces only compounded frustrations. Luckily, I am alone in the house, for I certainly could not show my face to anyone who knew of my failure. Finally, instead of acknowledging my ineptness, I put a positive spin on it and decide that it would be a good deed to help the needy local economy and call Karl the Plumber. It takes a few days for him to come, and I am not at the house when he does (for which I am grateful), but when I return, the thing has been installed—without leaks. I am pleased and grateful. God bless Karl.

The spouse pays the bill. I have not asked how much it cost to have this inexpensive device professionally installed.

Then, however, the NBP, who up until that time had adamantly eschewed one, wanted a bidet, and I still had one from my three-for-one offer. But, besides wanting the bidet, the NBP also reported that his toilet was making strange noises after it was flushed. I looked at it and determined that the mechanism inside the tank was malfunctioning, but I don’t understand this modern form of filling and flushing the tank (and neither would my 80’s edition of the Reader’s Digest Home Repair Encyclopedia). Instead of seizing on this new learning opportunity, I immediately gave the NBP the number of our Brooklyn plumber and said, “When you get him, ask him to install the bidet, too.” I wanted my bidet-installation days to be over.

But I can say that all of us now have very clean butts.

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