April, said Eliot, is the cruelest month. I don't know about that. I mean, I wrote that absurdly large check to the Internal Revenue Service in March. (Yeah, I suppose I could have postponed it a couple of weeks, but what would have been the point? It's not like I'm earning some ginormous interest rate on my bank account.) Then again, March, which has the reputation of coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, mostly hung around like a three-toed sloth: there was the expected absurd temperature range — it was 28 on the morning of the 21st and 81 in the afternoon on the 23rd — but storms were mostly quiet, and rainfall was one-third of normal. I should not have been surprised that April, particularly late April, brought big storms and literally seven times as much rain as there was in March, and while none of the horrible stuff came my way, there were some anxious moments. In fact, April was a pretty anxious sort of month, and I figure this is a good time to take note of one of the weirder things that happened during those thirty days.

During the post-Thanksgiving ice storm, before the power went off and I started getting panicky, I'd had a bathroom accident, and not the sort of thing one usually describes as a bathroom accident. As I characterized it then:

There are two towel bars in the bathroom, each suspended by a pair of ceramic holders; the smaller one has a spring-loaded ceramic bar, the larger one a similar-looking bar, but plastic. I found this out when I went scooting across the floor on a not-yet-wet bath mat, grabbed the bar with my left hand, and watched as it broke almost exactly in half.

I patched up that plastic bar with strapping tape and set an Amazon-sourced replacement aside. Eventually, wet towels caused that tape to loosen, and one morning I came into the bathroom to discover a towel on the floor and the bar at an undesirable angle. Okay, I thought. I can take a hint. Now where's that replacement bar?

It took me an hour to find the thing, which had apparently migrated a distance of four feet across the top of a closet, from an obvious location to a location less obvious. The bar itself was fairly nondescript, rectangular plastic, 24 inches long, with a spring-loaded insert at each end. Once I got my hands on it, I dashed, to the extent I can dash at all, into the bathroom, and discovered that the ceramic pieces intended to hold up the bar were 23 inches apart.

I summoned a curse or three from the stock I maintain for just such occasions, and forced myself to think this thing through. The springs at each end, I discovered, were detachable; obviously I need to cut one inch off one end, which would make more sense than cutting half an inch off both ends. (This is a variation on Arlo Guthrie's garbage rule: "One big pile was better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up, we decided to throw ours down.") There was never a better time to have a hacksaw handy. In about an hour, I turned up a spare blade, but no actual hacksaw. Fortunately, I had curses remaining.

The solution then became "Cut it with the first item in the junk drawer that looks even slightly serrated." I found some weird wooden-handled knife that was made in Japan back in the days that "Made in Japan" meant what "Made in China" means today, no better than mealtime flatware, but it would have to do. And eventually, it did.

You may be absolutely certain, however, that the damaged old bar is still in the house somewhere, just in case I need it. This does not, of course, mean that I will be able to find it.

The Vent

  1 May 2016

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