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Singing in the drain

Ordinarily I would rather troll for green beans in the drain trap in the kitchen sink than clean the bathroom, but today the plumber’s coming and at $60 an hour, I don’t want him slogging through three weeks’ worth of soggy bath towels to get to the pipes. The culprit is the toilet. The thing swallowed a jelly glass from my prized Flintstones collection and now it’s weak on Yabba Dabba and noticeably heavy on Doo.

So my manuscript and three half-finished blog posts while away the time getting to know Words With Friends and I’m here in sweat pants and tube socks, business end of a toilet brush poised before me like a magic wand.  If you believe what you see in television commercials, glossing the porcelain is two flushes away from a career in the entertainment industry.  Therefore, the only difference between me and Elizabeth Taylor is 40 million in diamonds and a date with the Tidy Bowl Man.

Contagion, our middle school Rare Disease Specialist, is home sick with something even Google can’t identify, and music filters in from the TV.  I flip the toilet brush into microphone position and sing passionately into the bristles.  It’s not a bad day when you look like Elizabeth Taylor and sing like Celine Dion. Bathroom acoustics could make stars of us all.

Behind toothpaste spatters, Celine beckons from the mirror and we launch into the Titanic theme, “Near, far wherever we are. . .”  As the music on the television swells, I throw my arms out wide.  I’m on the bow of the Titanic with the wind in my potscrubber.  The ocean breezes billow around my bathrobe and I sail away on pine-scented dreams.  “My heart will go on and on.”

Suddenly an anxious voice comes from the doorway. “Mom! There’s a woman commercial on, and I have to go to the bathroom.”

Why are kids never too sick to wait until the show is over?  And am I living my dreams to the tune of a feminine hygiene commercial?

I refuse to give up the moment.  My hands reach out to the future. “My heart will go on and OOOOOON!”

The door swings open to reveal an amazingly healthy preteen with an urgent look and a perplexed plumber clutching a drain snake. The preteen rolls his eyes. The plumber blinks and clears his throat with a sound like he’s swallowed half a jelly glass.

“Lady, if it means that much to you, I’ll get the thing out whole.”

In the mirror Liz and Celine sink with the Titanic.  But I can call them back anytime.  All I need is three minutes alone in the bathroom with a toilet brush, a feminine hygiene commercial and a cruise ship bigger than the whole town of Bedrock.

— Amy Mullis

Amy Mullis sings off key from her acoustically excellent bathroom in small-town South Carolina.  She earned an honorable mention in the 2010 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition and has served up essays in The Christian Science Monitor and a buffet of anthologies.  For more “Don’t Let This Happen To Me” moments, visit her blog.

Reflections of Erma