Friday, June 06, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 23: More kitchen drama

You guys, I was so embarrassed to tell you about how I melted the cutting board and set the oven on fire but you were great and told me how you had done similar things, so I didn't feel so alone.

What I didn't tell you is that I have more than once clogged the kitchen plumbing by using the disposal improperly.

My only defense is that I did not grow up with a garbage disposal - they are not standard issue in base housing - and never developed the instinct for using them.

Because apparently, there is an instinct or, more accurately, a feel. Instinct can't be developed, right? It's something you're born with, like knowing how to accessorize or how to wear makeup.

As in, my sister has the makeup and accessorizing instinct and I most definitely do not. Which would be completely obvious to anyone who meets us both.

Back to the disposal.

It's not just embarrassing that I clogged the plumbing - it's embarrassing that I have done it more than once. Apparently, not only do I not have the disposal instinct, I also am too dumb to learn proper disposal technique.

But - I have always been able to fix it before. It's simple - all you do is remove the elbow joint under the sink and let all the stuff - that weird green vegetable you bought at the Vietnamese grocery store that turned out to taste like bitter grass, for example - flow into a bucket. It's not fun, it's not glamorous, it means you have to remove all of the plastic bags that your husband has stored under the sink in case there is ever a plastic bag shortage and an associated crisis, but it is easy and nobody has to know your shame.

The hard part comes when

1. Your husband is not at home
2. You thought you would just do some quick vegetable prep before going downstairs to enjoy a nice evening alone with "Foyle's War" or "Doc Martin" or whatever show you are watching.
3. You try to put the refuse - cauliflower, I think it was - down the drain
4. The sinks start backing up with water and little chopped-up bits of cauliflower
5. And it all starts leaking under the sink.

And then when you clear everything out and put the bucket under the sink and remove the elbow joint, you discover that the blockage is after the elbow joint.

So you try other methods including trying to plunge it out but that doesn't work. You are left with sore arms and a sink that smells like bleach because you have to disinfect before and after.

You finally, in desperation, call your husband to tell him that the sink is clogged.

He wonders why you are calling.

You are calling because THE SINK IS CLOGGED! And you can't get it unclogged!

But why didn't you just send a text, he wants to know? Or a facebook message?

Because this feels more important than a message?

He does not think this is a big deal. He certainly does not think it is a deal worthy of a phone call.

I think this is a  big deal. The sink won't drain. I have spent two hours trying to solve the problem but have failed. I feel like an incompetent and an idiot.

He suggests that I just leave it for us to deal with in the morning. I go to bed with a clogged sink, dreading waking up to a problem.

The next morning, SH gets up. Goes to the basement. Gets some chemical. Pours a tablespoon of it in the sink.

Almost immediately, the sink starts to drain.

"See?" he says.

I am thrilled at the Miracle of Chemicals and even more thrilled that it seems unnecessary to explain all the drama I went through the night before in my attempts to solve the problem. I do mention that I had removed the elbow joints and he checks them and discovers that I did not have some little thingamabobby in place and he puts everything where it should be and tightens it all up. Done.

And no we have a sparkling clean under the sink area with a reduced volume of plastic grocery bags, which is not a bad thing.

Fast forward months later. It is again a Friday night. SH is doing something. Can't remember. But it involves piddling around the kitchen. I say I am going to peel the carrots for whatever it is I plan to make the next day. I think it was these carrots, which are delicious.

He says I should wait until the next day and I say no, I am going to  peel and prep the carrots now because I've had a long week at work and I like cooking and I want to cook and what business is it of his anyway?

I peel three pounds of big carrots. I push the peelings down the drain and turn on the disposal.

The sink starts to back up.

I turn the water off and call SH over.

He turns the water back on.

I suggest that perhaps turning the water on when the sink is backing up is not the proper approach, but then I remember that I apparently know nothing about sinks and disposals and should defer to the person more experienced with disposals, although in my defense, it's not like SH ever peels or preps vegetables and it's not like he has that much more experience actually using a disposal than I do.

He turns the disposal on and off.

He is also singing the Song of Something Bad Happened this whole time, with some added verses about how could this happen on a FRIDAY and WOE IS HIM and NOW HE IS DESPONDENT.

The sink does not drain.

He turns the water off.

I ask why he doesn't just pour some of that Magic Chemical down the sink again. I like that solution.

I don't know why he doesn't just go to the easy solution like he did last time. Who knows how the mind of an engineer works?

Something prompts him to open the cupboard under the sink and look.

The elbow joint, which he had checked last time and he had said was OK, is leaking.


Not Ha! Now I have another problem to deal with and a husband who is composing even more verses to the Song of Something Bad Happened but Ha! There is a problem and it's not my fault!

Do you know how rarely it happens in this house that something goes wrong and it's SH's fault?


1. He doesn't chop things up and use the disposal
2. He takes 100 times as long to do a chore as a normal person, which means that anything he does is done perfectly but he hardly ever gets anything done

He did set the grill on fire once and that was his fault. And now, the pipe is leaking and it's his fault.

But I cannot relish my joy because the problem still exists, regardless of fault. (If I were one of my husband's clan, then I would be relishing my joy because step one of any crisis is to assign blame.)

Instead, I pull everything out from under the sink (still more new verses to the song along the lines of, "You'll get the floors wet! Watch where you put those!"), get rags from the basement, and start cleaning the water from under the sink.

(Another verse: "There are bits up carrot up there! There! Why can't you see them?")

SH gets the Magic Chemical. Pours a little bit in the sink. It starts to drain.

SH gets the bucket, puts it under the joint, removes the joint, lets the remaining water and carrots drain into the bucket. ("Watch out! Watch out! Here be chemicals!")

He replaces the joint with everything where it should be. ("Woe is me! Woe is me! This is not how I wanted to spend my Friday night!")

I apologize because really, this is my fault for cramming a bunch of carrot peels down the disposal even though there is nothing in my history to indicate that the peels from three pounds of carrots will all go down the disposal at once. I also note that from beginning to end, this endeavor has taken us 20 minutes, so the night is not ruined. Or "RUINED!"

And then I vow never to use the disposal again because apparently, modern garbage disposals are not actually designed to dispose of garbage. I do not do it right and I have not done it right more than once. Now you know the truth.


Marsha said...

We have a disposal; it came with the house that my husband bought and for some reason he replaced it when he replaced the sink. I hate it. It is next to the compost bin, which is where all the vegetable refuse needs to go, anyway. I grew up with a temperamental garbage disposal that, I was warned, would chop off my fingers if I somehow had them down there when it was on, and would also destroy the very valuable silverware. It was never to be used without the water running. Apparently our current disposal is neither bloodthirsty nor destructive - it's capacity is limited to chopping up the vegetable bits that we never throw down there anyway. But I still don't want to put my good silver or knives in the same sink, in case one of them slips down and does some incredible damage somehow. I hate our disposal. I never use it, and I never will. Neither should you (use yours, that is). They are Bad Things. You have my sympathy.

Marilyn Leslie said...

I finally learned that I can only put a very limited amount of garbage down my disposal.The rest I pull out of the sink and throw it in the garbage. It very happily eats egg shells and the occasional carrot peel, but only with the water running.

Charlene said...

I learned about garbage disposals on one of those rare assignments when our base housing actually had a garbage disposal. My mistake was trying to put carrot and potato peels in there together. There is apparently some weird chemistry that causes the peels to meld into an unmoveable blob. The civil engineering guy who came to fix it said I should never put them together in the disposal. It was actually the second time this had happened but the first guy just unclogged it. Since then I've learned that any tough peel will probably clog the disposal so it's just easier to put them in the trash. I think a disposal is made for disposing of very thin leftover soup.

Juliet said...

I'm prone to killing the waste disposal especially with fibrous vegetables. It is nice for those bits at the bottom of the sink which cause me grief while the 2 year old WD is moribund.

Class factotum said...

I think we can all conclude that garbage disposals are evil and out to get us.