According to San Diego County, an estimated one in four Latino adults suffers from a mental disorder, but we Latinos often don't seek help due to cultural stigmas. In my family, obsessive-compulsive disorder is the crazy skeleton in the closet (though a different term is probably needed, since our closets are jam-packed, Hoarders-style).
Out of the OCD piñata, procrastination is my candy of choice. Give me the most complicated task or seemingly impossible feat and I'll ace it with one hand tied behind my back. Programming my week to wash three loads of clothes—one white, one black and one multicolored, as I'm a regular George Wallace when it comes to laundry: Now that's another story.
It's only when I feel that my room is starting to eat me alive and when I'm hopped up on Wal-Mart brand instant coffee (which I theorize is laced with crank) that I do something about it. Case in point: About 10 months ago, my toilet's handle broke. I did my business and flushed, and it broke off in my hand, forcing me to take the lid off and manually irrigate it by pulling the chain.
“I'll fix it later,” I said.
Six months went by and later still hadn't come. Yes, there was something refreshing in dipping my hand inside the john's water-filled tank every time I went—I saw it half-full, if you will. I even started thinking about the ritual as a pre-handwashing technique, but I knew it wasn't normal.
It's the same way that compulsively collecting every single gas receipt but not doing anything with them isn't normal, or keeping old packages of Crest White Strips because I know one of these days the sturdy plastic case with the inside mirror will come in handy for something, or being all 1960s Alabama on my dirty socks till there aren't any more clean ones left, forcing me to go out and buy more.
This has to end, I thought.
Normally, I'd leave daunting DIY projects like the toilet flusher in the capable hands of a day laborer or, better yet, a lesbian. But this was a matter of principal.
Like a determined wino who wakes up one day, stares at an empty bottle and says “Today I beat this,” I picked myself up, made an extra strong cup of Premium Arabica, put on some flip-flops because I didn't have any clean socks and headed to my neighborhood Lowe's.
Mesmerized, I walked by what appeared to be a never-ending selection of tile grout. Who the fuck buys this? I've been to some gay-ass housewarming parties and not once have I ever heard a guest tell the host: “Gurrl, you really outdid yourself with that Sahara beige sanded powder grout. Class—sheer class!”
Avoiding further distraction, I made a beeline toward my destination and waltzed down Aisle 16.
Kohler polished nickel lever for $55.31? Damn! “Danze Opulence Sheridan” bronze model for $66.71?I'm surprised I didn't opulence my pants right then and there. I know it's referred to as the porcelain throne and all, but Kate Middleton I'm not. Poor man's Pippa maybe—and that's on a good day.
I settled for a sensible universal front-mount in sassy chrome.
As for instructions, the illustration on the back of the packet made IKEA's cryptic booklets seem downright academic.
For the life of me, I couldn't figure it out. Like a plumbing Goldilocks, I tried inserting it lever first, but it ended up not going all the way in. Leading lift rod first was also fruitless.
This is what I get for being all take-charge, I thought as I set the kit aside and went back to my rudimentary ways—every wiz a reminder of my inefficacy, every dump a hurtful, smelly taunt.
Shamefully, I considered anonymously hiring someone from the Penny Saver to finish the job, much like a businessman from out of town might hire a craigslist hooker. “Money's on top of the vanity, Carlos,” I would say.
But I snapped out of it, pulled my jeans down to half-ass for added effect and took a YouTube tutorial on installing flushers.
“Go ahead and put your new handle in the same way as the old handle came out,” VideoJoeKnows instructed in his southern monotone. “Now remember, when you put the nut on, that it's gonna be reverse threads.”
Hold up. “Nut”? You mean that thing that appeared to be fused with the lift rod, acting as a frustrating speed bump? That thing that only seemed to budge less and less every time I tried to unscrew it by using the ol' lefty-loosie rule?
You had me at reverse threads, bud. “Here it goes,” I said in unison with Joe, and, in one fell swoop, I reclaimed my manhood.
Yes, Joe, I will find that sweet spot “where you can snug down the nut,” as you sagely advise, so it doesn't push on the lid once it's on. Damn straight I'll flush it five or six times, as you suggest, before I can “walk away and call this toilet ‘good.'”
Step aside, Jesus—VideoJoeKnows is my god now.
At around the four-minute mark, the words “bonus material” popped up as if it were the Transformers two-disc-edition DVD. “This is something really cool,” my new messiah said. It was a “neat tip” to tell how old your can is by flipping its lid over and seeing an etched industry-standard date stamp.
Still on a high, I gave it a go, but a thin layer of paint and what appeared to be smeared grout across it had acted as plumbing Botox and effectively covered any signs of aging.
Sahara beige, perhaps?