The following story was originally published in The Writer’s Grapevine Fabulous February Edition.
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A Draining Adventure
by Jo Elizabeth Pinto
The adventure began innocently enough. I decided to pour myself some Coke. When I reached into the cabinet above the dishwasher for a cup, my hand encountered only an empty shelf.
That led me on a search-and-seizure mission into the bedroom of my nearly thirteen-year-old daughter, which is one of those rare corners of the world where even angels fear to go. The floor, the bed, and every other surface in her room is mounded as deep as gravity will allow in an odd jumble of clutter in which childhood and adolescence collide.
My daughter had invited a couple of neighborhood friends to a sleepover at our house the weekend before, so I figured, correctly, that my missing cups had disappeared into her bedroom along with a pile of soda cans, never to re-emerge till I rescued them from among the heaps of clothes, stuffed animals, and random flotsam and jetsam among which they were scattered. I eventually surfaced in triumph, a tall stack of cups in hand, and marched victoriously toward the kitchen sink.
Which is when the plot thickened.
Some of the cups still had liquid in them. I dropped them all in the sink without checking them individually. And then I heard a sound that made my heart plummet into my Reeboks® so fast I felt as if I were on an amusement park ride, because it wasn’t the sound of cups crashing into the sink. It was a much lighter, cascading noise.
One of the cups had been full of pony beads instead of soda. For those of you not blessed to live with little girls, pony beads are round, colorful, plastic beads, a little smaller than green peas, with holes that go straight through their centers. Girls love to string them on various types of cord or fishing line to make necklaces and friendship bracelets. At the moment, I had hundreds of them at the bottom of my kitchen sink, rapidly flowing down into my garbage disposal.
I scooped most of the beads quickly out of the disposal with my hands and dumped them back into the plastic cup. Then I spent eons working the last half a dozen or so out of the slits around the outside edges of the disposal with my fingers and the tip of a butter knife. I luckily have small hands. I jiggled the disposal till I found a slot where a bead was trapped, then worried it free, grasped it, and hauled it up and dropped it in the cup. Each time I moved the disposal, it turned further and further, and I thought I’d finished, but always it would be stopped by another bead.
Finally, I’d pried all the beads out of the garbage disposal. I ran water through and fired it up, and there were no crunching sounds. Thank God for small miracles!
But the beads had gotten gnarly and greasy in their trip down the sink. So I dumped them into the little basket I usually steam vegetables in. I wasn’t about to wash them under the kitchen faucet and risk another skirmish with the garbage disposal. Off to the bathroom we went.
Complimenting myself on my attention to detail, I plugged the drain in the bathroom sink, just in case. Then I added a drop of soap to the beads in the steamer basket and turned on the water to wash them.
Unfortunately, in my quest to get the temperature right so I could swish the beads around with the soap in the steamer basket–the bathroom faucet at my house can be temperamental–I overfilled the sink. In my haste to prevent the need to call on Noah for his ark-building skills, I slammed down the lever that unplugged the drain without thinking. Before I even had time to take in the gravity of my mistake, the bathroom drain had filled up with–you guessed it! Pony beads. Only the Good Lord and my little dog Mindi will ever know what words escaped between my lips at that moment. The rest of you will have to use your imaginations.
I thought about plunking myself down on the bath mat and crying my eyes out. I thought about calling a plumber on the spot. I thought about running away from home, to tell the truth. But I’d gotten myself into the mess, by God, and I’d get myself out. Part of the deal was pure stubbornness, and part of it was that I didn’t want to meet my husband at the door when he got home with, “Guess what, honey?”
Thus the second “Battle of the Drain” began.
I straightened out a large paper clip, leaving a small hook on one end. Between that and the nail cleaning tool from a pocket kit I had, I started digging pony beads out of the bathroom drain one by one. It took me a little over two hours, but I got them all, except the last sorry sucker that eluded me for more than forty minutes. It’s still down there. I finally decided that one lousy bead wasn’t worth the price of my sanity. Who says we have to be perfect, right?
I washed the beads and the fairy cup from my daughter’s sixth birthday that held them and put them back in her room. The rest of the cups went into the dishwasher. And now that I think of it, I never did get the Coke I went after in the first place.
I love to hear about parenting adventures or other humorous happenings in the lives of my readers. If you’d like to contact me, my email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
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