So I fixed the shower drain today.
After weeks I finally got it to drain.
Every time we took a shower
my roommate and I—not at the same time—
would have to wade in standing water
that barely had time to drain before
the next person’s turn that day,
standing up to our ankles in greasy murk
and loose hair and whatever else pooled,
mildew and limescale we should’ve cleaned
long before this started happening—
don’t ask us why we didn’t, even while
this was going on—that kind of talk
will get you nowhere with us—
Not even Drano Max seemed to work.
I used an entire handle and it says
you’re only supposed to use half,
was hypnotized by its yellow gel
digesting the tarry innards of the drain
like a seastar everting its stomach.
It seemed to help, but only a little,
only enough to lower the waterline,
making this ring of scum around the tub
like the bleached walls of an empty dam.
I had to wash my feet off in the sink,
which was not in great shape itself.
The hell was going on, I thought,
meanwhile secretly hating my roommate
because I knew it must’ve been
his thick Italian hair clogging the pipe
that wasn’t really Italian, only 4%
it turned out—thanks 23andMe—
but try telling that to his mother
who hugged me more growing up
than my own Saxon mom ever did.
But I never put much stock in stock
never cared where I came from
which I guess makes me American.
I’ve got about as much French in me
as this drain’s got Drano in it,
and look what good that’s done.
All that matters is what you buy.
Do you use Drano or the other kind?
(is there even another kind of Drano?)
I wonder these things while ankle-deep
in water I can’t make out my feet in
which makes me hate my roommate
even more, because he’s compelled me
to hate his Italianness, but I don’t care
about those things except for when
there’s black strands like water snakes
navigating my shins. Besides it has
less to do with who you are than it does
getting everyone else to buy into it.
The Byzantines called themselves Romans,
the Romans thought they were Trojans.
It’s all marketing and I don’t buy it
because even this fucking Drano doesn’t
work, and it’s supposed to be the best.
People say Rome wasn’t built in a day;
what they really mean is it took Rome
a long time to convince everyone they were Roman.
But I don’t buy it because I’m an American.
Then today I turn on the shower and look
at the faucet handles just long enough
to notice the switch that changes the water
from the showerhead to the bathtub spout.
I study it, curiously, like an archaeologist,
flick it and the water goes glug glug glug.
The switch had been up the whole time.
It must’ve been at least a month—
Christ! I remember digging into it
with a screwdriver—pouring a pot of
boiling water into its choking mouth,
my roommate emptying his own Drano,
the other brand whose name I can’t recall.
I find him in the kitchen and tell him
I’ve fixed the drain. We have a good laugh—
I bet the idiot left the switch up, too.