"Oh," she said as she reached the bottom, "it's raining."
"No it's not," I replied. "I just took the dog out, and it's dry." There was a pause, and then in a voice stricken with panic, she shouted "RICHARD! IT'S NOT RAINING!"
I hardly thought that was anything to be bellowing about. Here in southern California, we often go for long periods of time without rain. Regularly it does not rain from April to October and some years we supplement that lack of precipitation by having extravagant droughts, during which we are forbidden to wash our cars or even our dogs by the Water Police. Screeching in naked fear every time rain fails to fall from our sunny skies would be a nearly full time occupation. A downtown schizophrenic might have that kind of time on his hands, but my S.O. does not.
I nonetheless immediately knew, by timbre of her voice, that my day was about to be rescheduled. It developed that the only significant precipitation in the area was under the vanity in her powder room, where one of the valves underneath her sink had randomly malfunctioned, spraying water over everything in the cabinet and threatening to flood the hall and beyond. The pitter-patter of the water squirting from the broken valve really did sound like rain falling on the roof. It was the hot water valve, so it was a warm rain, about a hundred fifteen degrees.
After shutting off the water, my next step was to remove all the drenched sundries from the vanity so I could access the piping. Like any unimaginative person, the stuff underneath my sink mostly consists of stuff that doesn't belong on top of the sink, like packs of toilet paper and bottles of Drano. For her, however, the space beneath the vanity functions as a gigantic stationary purse, crammed full of neglected toiletries. I cleared out enough curlers, clips, scrunchies, brushes, curling irons and other hair machinery to keep our entire zip code all brushed up and coiffed down for a year. They were accompanied by a solid phalanx of damp hair care products in tubes, bottles, compacts and boxes, piled in with oils, creams, foams, pastes and powders that promised some skin or dental benefit too numerous to count, along with a cheerful selection of random souvenirs from local amusement parks and what to my hurried eye appeared to be leopard skin tampons.
I found a jar marked "Daily Resurfacer." Thus I became aware of the secret of her beauty, dark as Dorian Gray's--she gets re-surfaced every day.
After piling all the salvageable goodies on the sidewalk to dry, I spent the next hours in the company of pipes and wrenches. The man who would be my brother-in-law if I was married came by to lend me some tools, waited until I was finished with them and took them back, carefully avoiding volunteering to assist me in any other way.
After barking up my knees and elbows and cutting myself only twice and Googling up a video by a helpful plumber who calls himself VideoJoe, I managed to replace the dead valve and turn the water back on, taking only about five or six hours longer than a trained professional would have, were I willing to risk getting sucked into the fiscal abyss of calling a plumber on a Saturday. I popped the cap off a beer and sat next to the pile of soggy dreck on the stoop.
Wasn't a cloud in the sky.