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.


R. Charboneau

6 thoughts on “Apologies to the Drain

  1. Hahah, this made me laugh. Nice writing. 🙂
    “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.”

    “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.”

    Verses that I liked the most. (y)

    Liked by 1 person

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