Laura on Life

The toilet whisperer

By Laura Snyder

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[January 20, 2010]  My husband is a toilet whisperer. Now before you have visions of crazy people talking to themselves while sitting on the john, let me explain.

Have you ever heard of a horse whisperer? This is a person who can "talk" to horses and make it understand. He also understands the horse because they share a natural affinity with one another.

My husband has this wonderful affinity with our toilets and... well, any electronic equipment. The affinity for electronic equipment is almost understandable because I am certain that they are only one tiny zap away from humanity. This is evidenced by the fact that my all-powerful, ever-knowing computer hates me and shuts down at the exact moment I need it the most.

No, we are talking about toilets here: the porcelain behemoth conspicuously taking up space in our bathroom. It sputters and gulps and sometimes spits up. You can't reason with it when it spits up. All you can do is react. Unfortunately, you can't react fast enough to prevent it from spewing its contents all over the bathroom floor.

That is when I call the toilet whisperer. As soon as he walks into the bathroom, the water starts receding back into the hole from whence it came.

You would think that the toilet whisperer would be a calm soul with a Zen-like mien, but my husband always looks at me as if I was mean to the toilet and caused it to explode. Then he turns the air blue with words even the toilet should not be exposed to.

On the other hand, have you ever had a toilet that is extra generous with your water? It runs continuously, cleaning the bowl with fresh water and, in the process, running up the water bill. Well, my husband can lay hands on it and it will stop doing that... at least until the next time I flush it. My toilet loves him.

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We have one particular toilet that I think is gravely ill. It is not subtle with its complaints either. Mostly it complains when someone flushes. Its whining sounds exactly like the last three measures of an aria sung by a Canada goose. To the untrained ear, it may sound like a cross between a moose mating call and a tractor-trailer honk, only longer and more obnoxious.

My toilet whisperer obviously knows it's dying, but he is apparently unwilling to even treat the symptoms.

"Can't you give it something for the pain?" I beg.

He is surprisingly content to let it live out its last days in obvious torture and acute anguish (which reminds me: I need to start working on my living will).

The soul-wrenching cry of my dying toilet especially bothers me when we have company. Our guests typically walk out of our bathroom traumatized. I feel somewhat responsible for my toilet's behavior and my guests' mental health.

Mostly, though, it bothers me when it happens even when nobody is in the bathroom. Have you ever seen what a person looks like after having been startled at 3 in the morning by the unexpected blast of an air horn?

...It's not pretty when sanity slips.


Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and speaker. You can reach her at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com or visit www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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