My son is going through puberty, either that, or its some kind of neuro-toxic brain frenzy that can only be communicated via decimating household fixtures. He is a raging tempest of mass destruction. Not to mock anyone in Texas or Puerto Rico going through their own recovery efforts, but, I swear my son is a force 5 hurricane leaving ruin in his wake. I am suffering my own tropical depression as a result.
In the past few weeks, my son ripped the hand towel loop from the wall, broke the stairwell banister rail by kicking it senseless and lastly, this weekend, tore the shower curtain rod from the bathroom.
My hulking teen has declared war and there is no Geneva Convention to protect me from his intermittent rages. The house is the ultimate casualty. Due to financial constraints, I can no longer throw good money away hiring someone to undo the damage on the home front. So, instead, I try to tackle repairs myself.
Cue Maniacal Laughter…
As a result, I swear, my house is laughing at me. It’s a soundtrack that erupts in evil snickering whenever I hunt for elusive tools.*
I managed to get through reinstalling the towel rack—placing it just far enough away from the patch to expose my inept sanding job—I have blindingly bright towels to keep people from noticing.**
The bannister was actually the easiest fix of all. Though, dragging a reluctant teenager on a Dora Explorer hunt for the replacement part wasn’t fun. We wandered the lonely, orange-bedecked Home Depot aisles hunting the rare and mysterious hook thingy that connects the bannister to the wall. I really wished a talking map would pop out of nowhere to sing me some directions.
Wisely, I took the broken parts with me when I went to replace it. My ability to identify obscure fixtures by name is not a key skill set. Hell, I can’t even remember most people’s names, none less the crazy vernacular home repair people give to their doohickies and whatnots!
Me at a hardware store: “I need a thingamajiggy for the whosie-whatsit that holds the toilet floaty ball rooster in place!”
After tackling these minor household projects, I had unrealistic expectations that I could fix whatever came next.
When the shower curtain came crashing down, leaving the bent remains of the bracket drunkenly stuck to the side of the wall, I was given an opportunity—to fail. It was a most ego-mashing, hubris-drenched experience. I would like to point out, my ultimate goal in this project was to do the replacement as easily as possible—to reduce my stress.
If you would like to take a moment and let that sink in…my goal was “Easy” and “No Stress.”
Okay, you may continue reading…
The War of the Shower Curtain Reenacted In Agonizing Detail.
I highly recommend you turn this into a drinking game and do shots whenever I do something boneheaded or death-defying that makes you laugh snot bubbles.
Dear Diary: It’s been five days I haven’t had a shower; things are beginning to smell.
I have purchased no less than four…COUNT THEM…FOUR shower curtain rods—two on the same day. Goldilocks wasn’t this frickin indecisive.
The first one had the wrong holes—they wouldn’t line up with the ones originally drilled into the wall. The second one (see above) had the right holes…but to hang it, they had to be drilled vertically, not horizontally. Did not figure this out until I got it home though. Back to the store I went.
On my third trip to Home Depot, I found the exact same pole as the original one my son wrecked. Brace yourself for the victory song of the misguided:
“Ah ha.” I said to myself, “This will be easy. This will take seconds and it costs next to nothing compared to the more elaborate options. Bingo, Bango, Bongo. Kiri for the Win!”
Then I got it home and this happened:
I could have tackled this using my hack saw. I could have measured and asked the store to cut it down. I could have listened to several wise friends who point-blank told me, “Get a tension sprung rod and stop b*tching about this.”
I could have saved myself…but I didn’t.
Faced with the unconquered space of drilling and hanging something that absolutely required precise measurement—on opposite walls, no less—with an uncertain hand-and-myopic-eye coordination, I feared installing a curtain rod the way some untrained people might have qualms about performing open-heart surgery or tackling Mount Everest in a blizzard.
But I was on a suicide mission and no amount of reason or serendipity was going to save me. I was going to tackle this monster project if it killed me. It almost did.
I gave myself a home improvement pep talk:
“You are a curtain coward. You have hated that poorly hung rod for over a year. That awkward draping fabric that clings, molding to your naked torso in a taunting embrace, whenever you shower. F*ck that clammy liner sideways! You can drill that bastard a new one! You will level that line. Your plumbs will hang straight down!”
[I have mentioned I don’t have a clue what I am doing in this arena, right?]
So, unwarranted optimism in tow, I purchase a fourth curtain rod in three days and drag it home, like a dead, brushed-nickel deer, an impending trophy to be hung.
FOUR HOURS LATER…
Of my talents as a home project installer, the less said, probably the better. However, I shall impart some things I learned from my major effort of that fateful Tuesday:
- 1. Before leaving the parking lot, check to make sure you already own all the tools you will need to install said product. When in doubt, buy that 3/16th drill bit just in case.
- 2. After a second run to Home Depot to buy the missing bit, you will then discover that the reason your previous curtain rod hung funny is because it was installed crookedly. One of your shower walls is ½ an inch shallower than the other. It will take you 2 hours of repeat measuring to figure this out however.
- 3. No online video will warn you of the ‘exceptions’ to installation. I at least did not attempt to videotape myself while drilling the walls. I’m not a complete moron. (I.E.–There is no proof that can be held against me in a lawsuit—or to undermine one if I decided to seek damages.)
- 4. However, I was dumb enough to balance a hammer on a towel rack, set a tape measure, dry erase marker, and several other miscellaneous items on various soap-covered surfaces in the tub while I danced drunkenly along the ceramic balance beam twirling this way and that trying to find the center point where I would start drilling. I’m lucky I didn’t break my neck. No, I am not exaggerating
- 5. If you get the bright idea to:
a.) use left-over window cling film to try and create a drilling template, be warned that,
b.) the blue hairspray you were saving for your Halloween Costume will bleed through said holes, leaving an indistinct mess on the film, and it will strip the color from the hardware that it touches, so, please, for the love of all that is holy. DON’T!
c.) don’t try this because it will turn out that, while ‘fake frosted window film’ does cling to surfaces, no amount of static electricity will keep that rubber disk from spinning out of alignment when the drill bit whirrs to life. (I am totally not making this up. This was my genius solution to the problems of installing level holes.)
6. If you leave the extension cord draped from the wall socket over to the bathtub and back, you will trip over the orange rip cord and bring the drill crashing down perilously close to impaling your foot and/or knocking a chunk of ceramic out of said tub. Flailing to avoid said impalement, you will knock the hammer off the precarious perch as homage to your Rube Goldberg reasoning skills.
7. If, against all odds, you do manage to get the mother-fracking $&@*! holes drilled correctly, you will discover upon mashing the screw anchors, and taking yet another trip to Home Depot, that they don’t sell the exact same size, frickin, anchors.
8. Once the entire ensemble is installed, and you are crowing that you managed to defy expectations and get it done right, you will find the last step—the simplest step–of snapping the mount cover in place does this instead:
I wonder what the recycling guy will make of the empty vodka and wine bottles in the trash?
Oh well…I can always buy more wine when I take the THRESHOLD 2-WAY MOUNT CURVED SHOWER ROD BRUSHED NICKEL FINISH back to the bedamned store where I bought it.***
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*Let the Great Phillips Head Snipe Hunt commence! Is there some rule of home repair that says whatever drill bit you need, that’s the one that is missing? ‘Cause sure as shinola stinks, even if you do own one, it won’t be in your tool box when you need it.
**Leading people to say, “That is one well-hung towel!”
***I’m thinking the ‘Bull’s Eye’ logo on the building is a clue that someone is about to get hurt shopping there.