|I gladly handed my husband the plunger as soon as he returned.|
When I picked up our groggy 8-year-old Havanese from the vet—where he had had yet two more teeth pulled for a price tag of more than $300—the technician instructed me to feed him soft food and dose him with anti-inflammatory pills for the next several days.
This post-op plan had proven effective last summer, when Buddy suffered through not just two but 12 extractions. He slurped up his mushy meals, benumbed to his recently mined jaw. But for some reason, this time, Buddy’s recovery progressed less smoothly—a realization that hit me smack in the nose as I lay in bed trying to unwind after a long day with our sick dog, twin 7-year-olds and 4-year-old.
Gorging on a Netflix binge session of the third season of “Homeland,” I began to detect something pungent in the air. Ignoring it didn’t work. The stink only gained muscle. And finally peeking down from my pillows, I saw that Buddy had defecated, not once, but three times, on our rug and bathroom floor.
“Jeff!” I hollered, leaping out of bed, not caring if I woke up the children. This was an emergency I needed my husband to resolve. So, like any sensible yet squeamish housewife, I handed Jeff plastic grocery sacks and Lysol wipes and then hovered in the doorway to Monday morning quarterback.
“You’re smooshing it into the rug,” I cried. “Just pick it up and dab!”
“You want to do it?” my husband turned to me and asked.
Instead, I darted outside for some fresh air. I should’ve taken a few extra gulps. During that endless night, Jeff and I awoke every few hours to the sound and stench of our dog unwillingly relieving himself on the bathroom floor.
“This is more exhausting than having a newborn,” my husband said, as I doled out more disinfectant wipes.
“And much grosser,” I added.
But the sun was shining the next morning when the vet granted permission to discontinue our dog’s medication and suggested I feed him rice, which gradually began to bind Buddy up. The future even seemed to brighten a little—that is until, in my sleep-deprived haze, I heard my 4-year-old daughter yelling that the powder room potty wouldn’t flush.
So I trudged upstairs for the plunger, which I half-heartedly pumped up and down in the bowl before deciding I had failed. Then I made the passive-aggressive move of sending my husband a detailed text at work about our crisis at home and asking if I should call the plumber.
“Wait till I get there,” Jeff wrote back.
And though I had little faith that he would meet with victory in that stinky little water closet—and that we would awake on the morrow with a still clogged and even more offensive situation—I gladly closed the bathroom door and stuck a fluorescent green Post-It on the knob that read, “DO NOT USE!” I also told the three children to run to the upstairs loo when nature called.
Despite these unmistakable indications that our powder room was out of order, my 7-year-old son, who can hear and read, soon reported that he had made a “terrible” mistake.
“I accidentally went in the bathroom,” he said, “number two.”
“It’s OK,” I sighed. “Your dad will fix it when he gets home.”
And I returned to the more pressing task of releasing our dog yet again into the yard and trying to pick up as much of his excrement trail as I could gather into another one of those plastic sacks.
As soon as Jeff crossed our threshold that evening, I turned over not just a collection of these bags and the responsibility they entailed but also the toilet plunger.
“Did you get it unclogged?” I kept asking, lurking outside the powder room door.
My husband soon emerged, waving the dripping instrument in the reckless abandon of his pride, and declared, “I should’ve been a plumber!”
I considered this statement.
“Yes, you should have,” I decided, suddenly realizing that were Jeff to leave the tangled fields of education and enter the leaky water-world of fittings and pipes, we would actually be richer and have fewer problems than we seem to have now.