My friend Curtis asks how my place in St. Clair Shores is, knowing I’m maintaining it from a distance now that I moved closer to work. No more hour-long commutes on I-94 to travel 14.3 miles.
“Fine,” I say.
I go up there a couple of times a week, check things out, throw out junk mail crammed into the mail box. Not much to tell. He knows the crazy neighbors who were causing me grief were evicted for non-payment of taxes. No more drama there. The condo across the way with the red door–where the mother killed and chopped up her son–that door’s been painted white, but the new coat of paint is not something that would interest him.
I’m trying to work at being more conversant. As I respond I think of something more I can say.
“There are plumbing leaks.” Really!? Plumbing leaks? That’s all I can talk about? Not a “sexy” topic of conversation over a martini and a Manhattan.
He looks at me like there’s suppose to be more to it.
My skin flushes. A welted rash forms on my chest. Why can’t I think of something more interesting? Why can’t I retain compelling bits of news to share? Why can’t I have—let alone articulate—an interesting, observant, analytical opinion on some worth-while matter?
On the other hand, I am a little proud that I followed-up my one-syllable response with something.
“What kind of leaks,” he asks to keep the conversation going.
“The sink. Where the flexible tubing comes down from the hot water knob and attaches to the galvanized pipe that’s sticking out of the wall. That bolt. Water is dripping from the joint at the bolt. There’s no way to tighten that I can see except if I had a wrench. But I don’t know if that would do it because it looks tight, feels tight; just that it’s leaking water. I turned the heat back up to above 50. Maybe the cold made the metal pipe contract, compromising the integrity of the seal. But then, why wouldn’t the cold faucet line have the same issue?” I sip my Manhattan.
He focuses on the plate in front of him, pressing on a knife cutting through bruschetta piled high with vegetables and mozzarella while keeping it from sliding off the plate.
“The space between the wall and the sink pedestal is too tight to put a bucket so I tied a plastic grocery bag around the tubing just above the leak to catch the drips. I was afraid as the bag got heavy, it would pull out of position and the drips would run down the outside of the bag and onto the floor. So I put a metal lid—the size of a shoebox— inside the bag, touching the place where drips form so that they would run along the lid, like a trough, directing the water solidly into the bag. Pretty clever, right?”
He takes a sip of martini.
“Why didn’t you just shut the water off?’