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It’s 3:00 AM and I’m going to bed after working on the cabinet doors for the kitchen. I run the water in the bathroom (takes a while for it to get warm) so I can wash my face and go to bed. Hmm, usually the water goes down the drain instead of filling up the sink, so I turn it off. There it goes, but slowly. Wait, what’s that sound? Well, of course, it’s the water from the sink coming out of the pipe that goes into the wall. All over the inside of the cabinet, where the extra rolls of toilet paper and the towels and the paper towels can soak up what doesn’t go down to the lower shelf, where some cleaning supplies and feminine hygiene products, and, I don’t know why, a bottle of Rain-X can swim around in the water that is no longer in the pipe. Which reminds me of the time my friend and I were walking up the hill to our houses when we noticed a bunch of small white things on the railing surrounding her house. What could her mom possibly be doing? Not until we got next to the house did we realize that the contents of a family-sized box of Kotex were drying in the sun. The bathroom sink had leaked, and her mom was drying them out because, “What? It was clean water! They’ll be fine. We don’t want to waste them.” It wasn’t the condition of the pads we were concerned with at the moment. You’ve never seen two junior-high girls move so fast, both of us gathering the soggy items while trying to think of how best to lie about what we were doing to anyone who might notice.

It doesn’t take a plumber to figure out what to do when water is pouring out of a pipe instead of flowing through it. There is a pipe that is joined to another pipe, and there is water coming out of that joint. Simple observation suggests that, after soaking up the rest of the water, it would be a good idea to take the pipe apart and check for a blockage. But it’s 3:00 AM and I don’t want to empty the cabinet, slop water everywhere, find more towels to mop up the mess, find the pipe wrench, realize that I can barely lift the only pipe wrench I can find, decide that channel locks will have to do, struggle with them and the pipe to disconnect it, hope there’s not more water standing in the pipe to gush out because I’m just about out of towels, clean out the disgusting compost of decades of unidentifiable biological material, gag, fish around for a blockage, gag, fix it, reassemble the bastard pipe, and put all the stuff back in the cabinet. No, I want to wake up Captain OCD and claim girlishness so my husband with the big, strong arms can fix the sink for me. Plumbing is a man’s job. But he has to get up at 4:30 and I don’t. There is no reason I can’t fix the problem and, despite my best efforts, I can’t come up with even a semi-rational reason why he, who is asleep, should fix it and why I, already awake, shouldn’t. Don’t think I didn’t consider leaving all the water there, to be dealt with later. Preferably by the first person to get up in the morning.

A while ago I was trying to figure out how to hardwire my new navigation unit in my car. After some research (this is not the kind of thing I just know) I’d figured out that the best option was to tap into the back of the cigarette lighter in the dash. But something wasn’t making sense, because I don’t really know what I’m doing. So I called my son to see if he had any suggestions. After doing a bad job of explaining what was there and what I wanted to accomplish, and perhaps a bit of whining, he finally answered, “I don’t know because I can’t see it; just figure it out!” At this point, I want to cry, “Figure it out?! I’m just a girl! Don’t I get extra credit? How many moms do you know who hardwire their navigation units into their cars? Or add extra brake-light sockets to their tail-light assemblies? Or fix the clutch cable so the hill-holder on their daughter’s car works again? Or build a new kitchen?” And, if I’m honest, who cares?

But I can’t say any of this out loud because that would expose my hypocritical feminism. I can’t insist that you not tell me that I can’t do something because I’m a girl, and then get upset that you don’t give me an award for doing something because I’m a girl. I don’t do these things because I particularly enjoy them, and definitely not to prove that girls can, too, stay up until 4:00 AM failing to unclog a drain. In fact, I’m often less-than-pleasant while I’m doing these things because when working on old cars and old houses nothing ever goes according to plan and I don’t know enough about what needs to be done to make things easy. Let’s just say that several deities’ names are frequently taken in vain, and are often accused of participating in unholy-like acts. With each other. People often say that it must be so satisfying to know that you did this or that with your own hands, that you must feel such a sense of accomplishment. Honestly, I don’t think of that so much as that I’m just glad that project is done. I would be happy to know the sense of accomplishment one would feel after writing a check to someone else to do the work.

I didn’t wake up Captain OCD, but I didn’t fix the drain, either. It took both of us a couple of days and more supplies to finally get the pipe to drain properly. If that had failed, the next step was to abandon the jumble of old pipe and re-plumb that section of the house (which has been on the to-do list for years) and you can bet that I wouldn’t have been doing that because it’s under the house and I’m a girl.

Just so you know, not a good idea to measure out weapons-grade Drano crystals into a disposable plastic cup that you are holding in your hand, and an even worse idea to stick the compressor hose with the air-jet nozzle into the drain while there is still Drano residue in the pipe, at least not without long sleeves and eye protection.