So here’s how it started…

First, a sushi dinner, an early one, home by 7:00 on what seemed to be the coldest day of January this past Thursday, 49 degrees and dropping. (Okay, you East-Coasters I know how ludicrous that sounds.) So we built a beautiful fire, put on some Bill Evans and enjoyed the flickering flames. Everything perfect…lovely…and then here’s what happened…

We heard a bizarre, loud, high-pitched squeal coming from the kitchen. Before we could react, the squeal descended to a lower registry, a kind of eerie growl. Insistent. Urgent. A little creepy.

Cabinet Open


Nettie got there first. (I wasn’t afraid…not much…just slower than her.) She yelled something like “Oh shit! This is terrible!” I bounded into the kitchen and saw a spray of water cascading over Annette’s head from the cabinets beyond her with water drooling through the dishes, dripping down the backsplash and running over the counter-tops onto the floor.

Quick witted that I am and attentive to Nettie’s directions, I ran out to the front yard and shut of the water into the house. (Incidentally, it was raining Thursday night, okay drizzling, but considering my previous post on the drought, now ironically we had water outside and inside in abundance.)

Pipe Hole


Anyway, here’s what happened then…I climbed up a step ladder to see the damage…it was better than expected. A rusted pipe, a pinhole, and it was visible in the high pipe-run above the cabinets, not, thankfully, inside the attic. Then I strategized about what to do…

I know about rubber-coated pipe clamps. I know about cold-weld epoxy, such as J&B weld. And of course, I’ve heard of calling plumbers…but…before telling you what happened then, let me get to the point of this post.

What floods my brain at times like these are not only the ramifications of what has just happened (how to fix the pipe in this case), nor how I will tell the story of what just happened at some later date (selecting the point of view, the characters, the degree of drama to inject, etc.), but what quickly consumes me is imagining things that didn’t happen, but COULD HAVE happened once the broken pipe happened. In other words, the “then what happened” sequence emerges and merges reality and fiction in my head, and each choice I make along the way, real and fantasized, creates more choices, more tales, more imaginings, on and on it goes. For example:

  1. I could start this broken pipe story with the spat that Annette and I had over who would drive to Home Depot to pick up the pipe clamp or epoxy weld. The fight could lead to separation or divorce…but that’s way too far-fetched, so edit that out. In fact, forget the whole fight.
  2. Or I could start this story with my climbing up the step ladder, looking back down to the floor, getting dizzy and falling and breaking my leg. Then I could describe in gruesome detail the pain and all the blood (because I also cut my head on the fall), and the ambulance personnel who carefully wheeled me out of my living room with the fire still crackling. Then I could talk about the female paramedic who confided in me on the drive to the hospital that she hates her job and can’t stand the sight of blood, and my advice that she should be honest with herself and make choices now for the future ahead. Then she tells me she was instantly attracted to me the moment she saw me on the kitchen floor. She tries to kiss me there in the ambulance. I push her away…or I don’t. Nah, too far-fetched as well.

    View of Feet


  3. Or I could let this story be about the first time I really did use a pipe clamp in the 1994 earthquake and all that entails, the danger, the fear, the glory of rescue as I become the only man on the street with a wrench big enough to shut off gas mains before the block explodes…actually, not that far fetched since it’s true…but truth doesn’t always work well in stories…so maybe edit that out, too.
  4. JB WeldI could begin with my past history with J&B weld, the multiple car parts I’ve fixed over the years, the thousand of prayers I’ve prayed that my fixes would hold. Or how about my trip with Nettie to St. Thomas and my surprise that J&B weld had not found its way to the shelves of the sole hardware store on the island? I could launch into the topic of modern conveniences and how they spread and how we miss them, and how, after all, we are critters of convenience with expectations and disappointments. Too depressing maybe…yeah, forget that.
  5. Finally, I could use the pipe leak as a metaphor, a starting point, for a discussion of aging and how all things finally fail. Every pipe eventually breaks. But you can always re-pipe, run new pipe, copper preferably, throughout the entire house! I could make the point that the mechanized world has some advantages over our flesh-bound selves. When will we be able to repipe the entire human body? Will I live to see it? Would I choose it if I could? How long do I want to live anyway? Maybe too philosophical…yeah, sure it is. Skip it.
Patch JB


But what really happened to this busted pipe on this Thursday night?

I lost the argument with Nettie. I drove to Home Deport and bought a pipe clamp, but on the way back I decided to try J&B Weld first since I could always default to the pipe clamp if the weld failed.

So I mixed the two part epoxy goops, steel and hardner. I put on a J&B patch, kept the water off all night and half the next day…I turned the water back on. And then what happened?

The patch didn’t hold, the pipe started leaking again. And then what happened?

Clamp in place


I shut off the water again, scraped off the J&B Weld and put on the pipe clamp good and tight. And then what happened?

Now it’s your turn to imagine for yourself the next part of this story…

And then I’ll tell you next week what really happened.


5 Responses to And Then What Happened?

  1. Beverly Pine says:

    Frank –

    It sounds like the story ends with an “oy”! I wish the pipes and you a speedy recovery.

  2. I had the same problem– after I fixed the leak, the sole Rat in the Haus– I was never able to trap— found it’s way to the top of the cabinet– perhaps– to lick off the moisture left behind from the leak. The electrical wire with a nice PVC coating next to the pipe was to inviting not gnaw on.The electrical shock bolted the Rodent into a simmering pot of Ox-tails below. The exposed wires started a slow burn engulfing the kitchen in smoke. The smell penetrated to the bedroom alerting our drousy minds after three hours of erotica.– Jane was understandabtly more alert than me, and ran through the house to let out a blood curdling scream .
    Next week more…
    Exellent post Frank– I enjoy reading all your stories.
    Best Walter

  3. Mary says:

    Oh Frank, I too enjoyed a good laugh this morning! Can’t wait for next week! Always enjoy your blogs. Hope your new book will have more of your literary humour (that’s not a typo – the rest of the English-speaking world still spells ‘humour’ that way!)
    Love to you both, Mary

  4. lynn says:

    frank..i needed a good laugh this morning. thanks. also, love reading your blog…you are a wonderful writer…..lynn

  5. George says:

    Frank – It’s time to do a copper re-pipe! If not your story will surely repeat – not just maybe. Looking forward to next week’s post!


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