Truman vs Drain

It's a lot like this. Too soon?

I am no stranger to clogged drains. Regular readers will remember that I have a somewhat thick head of hair – true adherents will notice that the blog is actually named for my hair – and one of the downsides to that is that shower drains and I generally don’t get along so well. (I also wilt pretty quickly in humid climates, but that’s another update.)

The best example of this was the Super Bowl during my senior year of college, when the sink, the shower, and the toilet all backed up on the same day at the same time when we had about 30 people crammed into our house. Since I was the one responsible for the sink and the shower clogs*, it was I who had to run to the store for an emergency bottle of Drano.

*The toilet clog had nothing to do with my hair, but it was still indirectly my fault – I’d whipped up a huge batch of Battledip Galactica, which contains about four full jars of Tostitos liquid cheese dip, and by halftime most of the guests had put our toilet through the paces.

I dumped half of the Drano down the sink, then turned on the hot water at full blast to flush out the drain as directed and ran back to the living room to watch the game. As it turned out, half a gallon of extra strength Drano was no match for my hair, and the sink promptly overflowed and flooded the bathroom with a mixture that was part water, part corrosive acid, and part clumps of hair. (The smell was still an improvement over the backed up toilet.)

So while I’m useless in most tasks relating to home improvement, such as assembling Ikea furniture or buying the right sized replacement lightbulb on the first try, I’ve got a good amount of experience with clearing plugged up drains. Of course, it helps that the preferred method for dealing with drain clogs is removing the cap from a bottle, turning it upside down, and letting gravity take over, but I like to think I’m pretty damn good at it.

The drain in my new apartment has a real beast of a clog in it. Since moving in last Friday, I’ve taken exactly one shower where water hasn’t pooled up above my ankles, and that was the inaugural shower the night I moved in. Since then, every shower has gradually turned into a footbath.

I didn’t deal with the problem right away, due largely to my own laziness – the nearest Ralphs is several blocks away, and the clogged drain wasn’t appreciably affecting my quality of life. I mean, my feet are going to get wet in the shower either way, right? So what if they wind up fully submerged in the dirty water running off of my body? They’re just going to be getting sweaty and gross in my shoes all day, anyway.

After a few days, though, enough was enough, so I picked up a $2.99 bottle of off-brand drain cleaner, brought it home, and dumped it down the drain to work its magic. During my shower the next morning, though, I discovered that CVS brand drain cleaner is apparently about as acidic as a glass of horchata* and my drain was just as blocked as ever. Having underestimated my opponent, I decided to up the ante and splashed out $8.99 on a huge bottle of Drano.

*If I had to pick a way to die, it would be drowning in horchata. I can’t get enough of that stuff. I feel like we could solve anti immigration issues if we just gave every racist a glass of horchata and told them who invented it.

I should point out that for the entire time that a bottle of Drano is in my possession, some small part of my brain is thinking of ways that I could wind up inadvertently drinking it and dying a horrible death, because apparently some small part of my brain thinks I’m a two year old. I even turn my head away from the bottle as I open it, as if I’m expecting a tsunami of poisonous drain cleaner to leap out of the bottle and down my throat the second I give it an opportunity.

So, with one arm across my mouth for protection against predatory drain cleaner, I dumped the Drano down and let it work its significantly more expensive magic. At this point I was getting kind of nervous, because if Drano didn’t work I really had no idea what the next step in the process was.

The next morning, I discovered that either my hair is stronger than the Space Shuttle or the previous tenant had been using concrete for shampoo, because the drain remains just as clogged as ever. At this point I’ve got three options: Spend a lot of money on a plumber, stick my hand down into the hair and poisonous cleaner filled drain to unclog the blockage manually, or just let the drain clog win.

So, somewhat predictably, I’ve decided to let the drain clog win this one. It’s clearly got more willpower than I do.

As I’ve discovered in the past couple days since the truce, the drain clog is actually improving my quality of life by reducing my water consumption.

My former roommates can attest that I tend to take pretty long showers – and remarkably, it’s not even because I’m doing anything smutty, but just because I like hot water and general cleanliness. Remember that Seinfeld episode where Kramer starts living in his shower? That’s the dream for me.

With the clog, though, I’ve got five minutes tops before the tub completely fills and overflows into the bathroom. It turns my showers into sort of a game – a fast paced race against the clock to get clean and shut off the water before I flood my apartment. It’s like a very hygienic 24.

Truman Capps apologizes if you pictured him in the shower at any point during this update.