Another 500 words from Honest And For True. You know you want this book.
Friday night I spend exactly as a woman of my stature should: on her knees in front of her mother’s toilet.
And I have my niece with me. Won’t my brother be proud?
Actually, Randy will be proud. After Avery phoned from school five times, I agreed to get her early. Then as I was about to leave, I got a call from my mom because the toilet was busted.
It says something about Avery’s current social situation that repairing a toilet with her maiden aunt is the best game in town. She perches on the bathtub’s edge, churning out one unending sentence about girls with nothing better to do than remind her of the ways she is their inferior.
“Hand me the wrench.” Avery watches me tighten the shutoff valve and then flush to release as much water as possible. An inch remains, so I soak it up with a ratty Mickey Mouse towel.
Avery stops her monologue. “Where’d you learn to do this?”
“One of the best things a woman can do for herself is learn to fix a toilet.” I smirk as I rummage in the tool box for the WD-40. “For your sixteenth birthday, ask for a set of Craftsman tools and learn to use them.”
My mother huffs. “She’d be better off learning to apply makeup.”
“You need the makeup to bat your eyes at a guy so he’ll fix your toilet. Skip a step.” The inside of the tank is dry, and everything is lubricated. “This is the inlet supply for the tank. You’ll remember to turn off the shutoff valve, right? Because that’s important. Otherwise we’d all get sprayed when I do this.” I disconnect the inlet supply and am rewarded with no gush of water. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing?
Mom says, “A husband isn’t good only for fixing toilets,” and she walks out.
My mother was a single mom all those years. When she got my uncle to do maintenance or install a ceiling fan, I used sit by the wall listening to Uncle Mickey. “This is a circuit breaker,” “You spread on the joint compound thin,” “Let me tell you about the time I forgot to test to see if the wire was live,” and all for an audience of one. He didn’t realize I was deciphering how the world got put together, and that I could put together a world by myself when I rejected the one my mother had ready-made for me.
Avery says, “Did you study engineering?”
I laugh. “Most engineers can design a bridge but can’t change their own oil.” I know–I listen to their phone conversations while they’re paying me to change it. “I squeaked through college with a degree in Family Studies. I hadn’t thought beyond graduation.”
Shocked, Avery says, “They tell us to have a plan.”
“No one told me that.” Well, no one but Bucky, who spouted enigmatic speeches like “You’re graduating in a month. Have you thought about getting a job?”
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