The Faucet Incident

In the interest of better faucet utilization, I had installed a swivel-head onto my kitchen faucet. For the uninitiated, this is fixed, plastic nozzle that one can swivel about thirty degrees in any direction, and pull or push it to switch between stream-of-water and needle spray. It is, an altogether wonderful device. It allows you to just barely spray the sides of the sink when you've finished washing dishes. It is the "just-barely" part that got me in trouble. After two years of trying to make this thing spray the sides of the sink, it finally gave up the ghost and snapped right off the faucet. I was able to push the nozzle back onto the swivel base, but the stream of water that is emitted is now quite random. It gushes out in ever-changing patterns while simultaneously sending a fine horizontal mist in an equally random direction. I knew I'd have to fix it, but made a point of warning Becky about the broken nozzle. It wouldn't do to have her get all ready for work, only to have the simple act of getting a glass of water send her back to the ironing-board (so to speak).

The point is, it was time to put on my handy-man cap again, and head to the store for a replacement. Now, I don't know how things work in your home, but in mine, there is a invisible time-line drawn on every event. Becky, of course does the drawing, and it is up to me, to divine the location and act upon it before time runs out. I am really bad at this game. In this particular case, I gave Becky enough time to realize that replacing the swivel was a good idea…but replacing the whole faucet was a much better idea. And I, have never installed a new faucet. A-Ha! I think to myself, another chance to expand my knowledge. I'm going to be a father soon. Every father I know does this kind of stuff in his sleep!

So the two of us take off for the local Builders Square, and wander the plumbing section, looking for a new addition to our kitchen. I should also mention, that by the time we arrived at the Square, it was already 4pm on a Sunday afternoon.

The first handy-man's rule clearly states: Never make your first trip to a hardware store only an hour before closing. There isn't a project devised by the home-owner gods that can be completed with only a single trip to the hardware store. But, I wasn't listening to the handy-man in my head. I didn't even realize he was speaking. This was a no-brainer. Turn off the water, unhook the old faucet (that should take an adjustable wrench. I've got adjustable wrenches…three of them, in fact), hook up the new one, turn the water back on, and bingo, you're in business. The box clearly stated: step-by-step instructions inside.

Becky decided to help, by reading the instructions while I crawled under the sink to reconnoiter. "It says here," she cheerfully read, "to apply a bead of putty to the faucet. Do we have putty?"

I should have known right there. I was doomed. I looked at the old faucet.

"No," I replied with a confidence I didn't quite feel, "the old faucet used a rubber gasket. I think I'll just re-use that." Confidence is after all, everything in these situations. She seemed to accept the bluff without question, so I turned back under the sink.

This is when I learned that the universal connectors on my new standard faucet, were completely incompatible with my old water pipes. I looked again at the box. Nothing about special connectors. I looked at the instructions. The entire Connect Water Supply section simply said: "Connect 3/8 inch inlet tubes to water supplies with appropriate connectors." Oh, of course. Appropriate connectors. I must be some kind of idiot. All I need are appropriate connectors.

And of course, I realize this at one minute after the hour. Yes, that's right, you guessed it. One minute after the hardware store closed. Well, there I was, cut off from any knowledge I might have gained on my own. I had no choice. I needed to consult with a higher authority.

Well, in my life, when I need a higher authority, it is either the guy named "Bob" at the Handy Andy (who looks remarkably like Bob Newhart), or it is my father, or it is Becky's father.

Bob was out.

My dad wasn't answering his phone.

I hesitated slightly before calling Becky's dad. Becky's dad is really good at this stuff. In fact, I turn to him quite often…and as such, I feel a little guilty about bothering him. But, I had a potential disaster on my hands (I knew there was another invisible time-line out there somewhere). So, ten minutes later, I'm sitting on the floor under my sink, trying to describe the various connectors I see under there, and then describe the connectors that are in the detailed instructions, which bear no resemblance to anything under my sink OR in the box. "Well, the new faucet has a big, honkin' connector hanging off the end of the 3/8" copper tubing. (See, I do know some of the lingo!) I mean it's big…it's like three-quarters of an inch or something."

"That sounds like a connector for a half-inch water pipe."

"Yeah, but the valve thingy just takes a three-eighths inch copper tube with a compression fitting."

"Well that won't work."

"That's what I'm saying. Did I get the wrong package or something?"

"I doubt it. You just need to get the right kind of connector."

"Any idea what I'm looking for?"

"Explain this connector again…"

"Well, okay … the instructions show a picture of what they expect it to plug into."

"What does that look like?"

I looked at the picture. A word came to mind. I tossed the word around. I rejected the word.

"Well it's got a rounded top, and it flares out and the copper tube goes into it."

"I'm not quite following…"

"Okay." I took a deep breath. "It sort of….", I gritted my teeth. I couldn't say it "It looks…" Go back! Go back! "…well frankly, it looks like a penis."

Becky fell out of her chair, a look a stunned disbelief on her face that seemed to say, How could you say that to my FATHER!?

I heard a half-gulp from the other end of the phone. I knew I shouldn't have said it. The second rule of the handy-man probably says something, like: Never say the word penis to another man. Not ever! But especially not when you are sleeping with the other man's daughter. The silence was finally broken. He spoke quite plainly and concisely.



"Oh! Well, then you need this connector tube…blah blah blah…should be easy enough…blah blah blah…"

You see? I told you he was good!

Copyright © 1997 by Mike Marchi