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   Jean d'Isle | Women's Greatest Misconceptions About Men

Women's Greatest Misconceptions About Men
By Jean d'Isle

That we know how to fix stuff.

This misconception has trapped me into trying a number of things I knew were risky and could only end in humiliation. Like the time my wife asked me to replace the toilet seat in the upstairs bathroom in our old house in Bethesda, Maryland. She saw just what she wanted on sale and figured I should be able to zip down to Hechinger's on a Sunday morning, plunk down my money and have that sucker installed before the aftenoon football games.

I was able to accomplish the first parts, the zipping and plunking parts; but the installing part proved to be most challeging, to say the least. Keep in mind that this was an old house, and the toilet seat had essentially been peed into place by generations of careless micturaters. My attempts to unbolt the old seat were met with pure frustration. I tried pliers, I tried crescent wrenches, I tried box wrenches, I tried WD-40--until at last I succeeded in getting one of the bolts, which were firmly lodged in the back corners the ceramic throne, to grudgingly give up the fight. Half way there, and with the Redskins about to take the field at RFK stadium, I decided I was going to have to add two more tools to the arsenal: a hammer and a chisel.


Now, before you start to snicker, here's the logic: by inserting the blade of the chisel under the head of the recalcitrant bolt and giving it a sharp rap with the hammer, the beheaded bolt would simply slide out of its corroded home and, as the Brits would say, "Bob's your uncle."

Missing of course in this brilliant reasoning process, was consideration of the relative strengths of brass versus ceramic.

As I carefully positioned the chisel and gave the bolt a sharp rap, the entire corner of the toilet fell off, at last freeing the bolt from its home, but leaving me with a substantial piece of ceramic in my hand and an inoperable commode. Knowing that I was in serious trouble should knowledge of this blunder reach the wrong ears (my wife had asked me several times over the course of this ordeal whether everything was all right--to which I replied, "No problem."), I formulated a desperate plan to glue the corner of the toilet back on. It was an incredilbly clean break; and as I held the broken piece in its place, you could barely see the fault line. A few heavy applications of super glue, some serious pressure, and voila! Good as new.

Meanwhile, wife is beginning to suspect something is amiss and has insisted on a visit to the scene of action to assure herself all is indeed well, as I continued to assure her. Before I had a chance to bolt the new $29.99 Hechinger toilet seat in place, she had insinuated her way into the bathroom and was visibly relieved to see the project appeared to be nearing completion, with "No problem."

Had she not decided to flush the toilet at that point, I might still have been able to pull off a miracle; but flush she did; and the water, coursing through the water channel which passed through the apparently intact corner of the commode, shot three feet in the air in multiple tiny geysers (picture, Bellagio dancing waters, with screaming instead of music).

While others were squandering their time watching the Redskins game, the rest of my afternoon was spent arranging for emergency plumbing service (Sunday rates) and overseeing the procurement and installation of a complete new toilet (not on sale).

To this day, I think I could have salvaged the situation, along with a little dignity and a lot of money, if I had been allowed to apply my ultimate solution. But wife, who got me into the situation in the first place, refused to consider living in a house where the corner of the toilet was held in place by duct tape.

Jean d'Isle is a retired naval officer living in Hawaii. During his military career he served in a number of overseas assignments, including Germany, England, Spain, Viet Nam and Puerto Rico. Following his retirement, he was an adjunct faculty member of Hawaii Pacific University and is currently under contract with the U.S. Navy at the submarine base in Pearl Harbor.

Also by Jean d'Isle:

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