What images does the phrase “home ownership” bring to mind?

If you are an aspiring homeowner, it is probably something like this: A grinning husband with perfect teeth strides toward the “For Sale” sign in his new front yard and self-assuredly affixes across it a bold, red “SOLD” sticker. Later, in the enclosed back yard, he lounges contentedly in a lawn chair of some variety, while his adoring wife serves him a glistening glass of fresh lemonade, their children frolic around them on grass so green it might inspire Kermit the Frog to pen another verse of his signature song.

If you are an actual homeowner, then you — like me — understand what a bunch of hokum that visual is.

Home ownership, as I am quickly learning, is not a finish-line destination, as the indefatigable purveyors of the American Dream would have you believe.

Rather, it is the beginning of a long, very long, seemingly never-ending journey, with the equivalent of a 5-year-old child, who can’t walk more 10 steps without complaining that his feet/legs/eyes/ears/toes/toe/finger/lips/face/tongue/rear-end hurt, and has to stop every five minutes to use the bathroom.

Reason doesn’t matter to whiny 5-year-olds, and it doesn’t matter to your home either. You can tell the kid that, really, there’s nothing wrong with his hand, or that it is impossible — according to all the principles of biology ever discovered by science — for him to have to use the bathroom again so soon, but it won’t make any difference.

In the same way, it doesn’t make sense for you to argue to your home that the laws of probabilities and averages absolutely forbade the failure of the same fuse that you just replaced two days ago.

Apparently, houses — like children — obey different laws of physics than the ones that govern you and me.

This weekend, I decided to get serious with the kitchen faucet — one of those deals with the handy pull-out sprayer. It’s old, and it’s been leaking for some time. It started as a drip — annoying, but easy to ignore as long as the fixture wasn’t positioned directly over a bowl of water.

Eventually, I went to Home Depot (or “Homey Dee,” as it is affectionately known at our house) and bought a new aerator. This did absolutely nothing for the drip-drip-drip, but it did give the faucet a much crisper “ksshh” sound when you turned the water on.

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The next weekend, I bought some new O-rings for the sprayer handle. I installed the new rings and gave the whole sprayer a thorough cleaning. This is what one of the good employees at Homey Dee was fairly certain would fix our little hydrological problem.

It did not. At that point, I became very ambitious. I disassembled the entire faucet, soaked the parts in rather foul-smelling chemicals — guaranteed to both remove mineral deposits and secure my name permanently on Greenpeace’s blacklist —and carefully reassembled the thing.

Not only did all this work increase the leak from what had become a steady trickle to a veritable stream, but it also inexplicably reversed the direction of the hot and cold water handle.

By last weekend, The Leak (which I feel I must capitalize now just as I would the names of any other of my worst nemeses) was having a noticeable impact on household morale. The grass seemed less green. Birdsong seemed less sweet. Sunshine seemed less warm and soothing.

So, I did what any self-respecting and completely deluded man of the house would do, and swung into action. Specifically, I bit the bullet and bought a new faucet at Homey Dee (which I really wish I had bought stock in, as I’m fairly certain 2014 is going to be a banner year for them, thanks primarily to me).

I would love to tell you about the process of removing the old faucet. Unfortunately, I am incapable of describing that ordeal in language suitable for a family publication like the Woodburn Independent.

Suffice to say, I finally did free the kitchen sink from its rusty claws, and smote its ruin in the trash bin outside.

The installation of the new faucet was uncharacteristically smooth and straightforward. I should have known better, but I was naïve. When the last bolt was bolted and the last screw was screwed, I un-cut-off the cut-off valves, only to discover — what else? It was leaking again.

Not out of the faucet. No, this time, the leaks were in the hot- and cold-water supply lines, which attach to the new faucet and which — I cannot stress this enough — had not been leaking when they were attached to the old faucet.

I now know from research that the supply lines usually need to be replaced with the faucet, because the gaskets wear out and the threads don’t line up with the new faucet.

My problem on Sunday night was that it was 7:49 p.m., and Homey Dee — approximately a 10-minute drive away — closed at 8.

I arrived at 8:01 p.m. The “Enter” doors refused to open to me automatically as they always had before. On the other side of the store, however, the “Exit” doors were propped open.

Feeling like a total law-breaker, but also a little bit like a super-spy, I dashed through the completely wrong set of doors, sneaked by the clerks — whose backs were turned toward other customers — found what I needed in a miraculously short span of time (probably due to adrenaline-fueled mental clarity) and completed my purchase as the lights were literally being shut off overhead. I left Homey Dee just in time to hear Sarah McLachlan silenced in mid-croon.

The kitchen faucet, I’m proud to say, no longer dispenses unwanted H2O — neither above nor below the sink.

Only, now, the other downstairs faucet is leaking.


Cross-posted with The Woodburn Independent.

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