The Scum and The Furry
Warning: the following account is not for the squeamish.
Two days ago, I pulled a slimy, hairy smelly rat by its tail, out of my shower drain.
Hooked? OK, it wasn't really a rat, but all of the other descriptors apply, and it had roughly the same proportions as one.
The water had been draining much too slowly in our shower for a few days, and Sunday was my first opportunity to do a little fishing.
Going after a clog with a drain-snake is a lot like fishing, actually: You get really drunk, keep casting a line into the water, and reel in too quickly a couple times thinking you have a nibble. And when you finally do catch something, you call your fishing partner (wife in this case) over to examine your catch and heap accolades upon you.
In this case, the praise I was given consisted of, "Oh, that's disgusting," "That makes me want to throw up," and "Why do you think I would want to see that?" Frankly, I am used to these phrases from other interactions with Mrs. Valentine.
Anyway, I tossed the mucky blob into the trash, and smugly thought that was the end. Surely that gray/black sac of rot was the cause of the slow drainage, and our shower will empty quickly for years to come. How wrong I was.
The shower was no better yesterday morning. Not worse, but not better. Another decaying tangle of follicles, perhaps? Tonight, I went back in to investigate.
For those of you still hanging in there and reading this at lunch time, put down you greasy pork sandwich for a moment. Its about to get really gross.
Several thorough attempts at snaking produced nothing, not even the sort of "nibble" or trace evidence suggesting I was on the right track.
Then I produced a plunger, with the thought I could blast down whatever it was I seemed incapable of dragging up. I ran the shower for a minute to let the drain back-up and given me a half-inch of standing water. Then I started plunging down vigorously.
Here's an interesting physics lesson I had forgotten since high school: while I increased the pressure in the pipe when I pushed down, I created a vacuum in the pipe when I pulled up. Specifically, the lesson is that nature abhors a vacuum, and when it spots one, it fills the vacuum with gray fetid water and brownish flakes of pure slime. All of which started to come out of the drain and into the shower stall.
I was initially taken aback by this development, but in a Malcom-Gladwellian "blink," quickly decided that a half-inch of putrescence must be a sign of progress.
Continuing my intense plunging action, I drew more of the flabby slices of goo out of the drain, occasionally pausing to scoop a few of the bigger ones out so they wouldn't go back down. In the bathroom, the other open lines to the sewer (bath tub drain, two sinks, and toilet), all gurgled a demonic chorus in response to the rite of the plumber-exorcist.
And like Linda Blair's pea soup vomit on Von Sydow's face, a little of the liquid evil I was attacking hit me in the kisser. It tasted like death and Clairol conditioner.
I needed a moment to regroup. Despite having pulled up a fair amount of the plaque, the water was not draining when I stopped plunging, not even slowly as it had before.
It was time for chemical warfare. While I have had mixed success with drain purging supplements, I thought a visit to the store was appropriate.
Spitting compulsively, as I would for the next 30 minutes, I drove to the store and perused the cleaning aisle. Concerned that a simple lye-based product would not work, because whatever this blockage was it was not simply hair that I could chemicially transform into soap, I was willing to try something more radical.
Then I saw it: Liquid Plumber Power Jet. A pressurized canister containing a weaponized grade of gook-fighting foam, that you place directly over the drain and allow the ENTIRE contents to expode out in a matter of seconds.
They might as well call it a Can of Whoop-Ass.
Returning home, I sealed the drain to the bath tub, and positioned the Can of W.A. over the shower drain and pushed down, as directed. The Can emptied immediately.
"Is that it?," Mrs. Valentine inquired from a safe distance (sadly also a phrase I am used to). I withdrew the can and peered into murky, chunky water over the drain. A few white bubbles rose to the surface, but otherwise nothing.
Despite a lack of evidence, I sensed victory was close and gave the pipe a tentative plunge. I didn't apply a lot of pressure, because having foul fluids fling in your face is one thing, having corrosive chemicals cling to your kisser is another.
Then the miracle happened. A deep gurgle could be heard from the pipes, a watery death-rattle, then it all just drained away.
Well, most of it. I ran the shower to help rinse away the stuff that had clung, then gave the whole area a good bleachy cleaning. Sometimes cleaning with bleach stings my nose, but tonight it smelled like Jesus.
So there you have it. Besides waves of nausea and a ringing product endorsement, I'm not sure you got anything out of this. I feel better, though.
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