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My mom and dad recently took a quick summer trip to Colorado and Estes Park. Along with some of the regular stories that Grandpa Points shares about the natural beauty they experience along their journey, I begged my dad to also share this story that he offhandedly mentioned about what happened when he went to take a shower in the hotel after a long day enjoying the great outdoors. I know I have had my fair share of moments in hotel rooms where for the life of me I cannot figure out how to work something that should be simple like the TV, that air conditioner, the lights, or even the shower. Here’s his version of man vs. shower.
It all looked and seemed so simple and straightforward. It was a simple daily task that I have done thousands of times and is so routine that thoughts are not necessary. Just muscle memory and feel. It was to be, as it usually is, a refreshing reward to the end of a pleasant day. An invigorating, yet relaxing, warm shower in our Estes Park hotel room after a day of travel and a late afternoon hike was just the ticket I was looking for.
My clothes were in a little pile and I was wearing only the dust from the mountain trail as I reached down to turn on the water and to adjust the temperature to the “just right” position. The water was freely flowing from the spigot into the tub and it reminded of the waterfall that we had just hiked to.
I reached to the shiny new fixture to divert the flow up to the shower head above. I pulled the handle, I pushed the handle, I twisted the handle, I turned it right and I turned it left. I repeated all the above steps. The water continued flowing down from the spigot into the tub like the spring thaw. I stood there naked and confused. I looked at the fixture. I touched the fixture. It looked like just any other bathtub/shower fixture. There was no knob, just a handle. I studied and prodded the simple looking instrument like my life depended on it.
Now, I must admit that my family knows better than to ask me to fix anything as there is no DIY in my DNA. I have a natural fear and loathing of instructions and manuals. I think I am allergic. I am simply not mechanically inclined. And don’t ever hand me any glue. But, for Price Pfister’s sake, this was not a super collider. It was just a faucet. I took a deep breath and went back in. I am college educated. I am 67 years old and I have spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express. I can do this. I stared at the fixture and it seemed to be defiantly looking back.
I now felt naked and afraid. Was this going to end up as a story on the national news of a citizen getting into trouble for calling 9-1-1 because he couldn’t get the shower to work? I went to work again on that Rubik’s cube of a faucet. This time I used more force. I twisted harder, I pulled and pushed harder. I probed that devil in places I can’t talk about and in ways I certainly wouldn’t want my mother to know about. I even considered lighting a candle and saying a prayer to get help from above, but I figured the Master Plumber in the Sky must surely have more pressing matters.
I was now naked and helpless. And still dirty. I did what all soldiers have to do on occasion, I called in the cavalry, my wife. I am now naked and embarrassed. I have seen all my masculine pride go down that tub’s drain and I am waving the white flag of surrender. It was the white towel that I seemed to now have no use for. My wife came in and……….couldn’t figure the thing out either. And she is much smarter than me.
It was now becoming apparent that I would either have to go to bed dirty or, GULP, take a, I can barely say it even now, a bath. I am not a bath person. I do not even understand baths. I get dirty and sweaty during the day and I don’t want to sit in the dirty water that I am trying to get rid of. But, a man has to do what a man has to do so I climbed into the tub like a fighter climbing into the ring.
I turned the water on. Do I squat or sit? I hoped I was not on Candid Camera. I certainly should have been on America’s Funniest Videos. I must have looked like a fish out of water, except I was a Grandpa in the water. The lathering went fine, the rinsing, not so much. I splashed water, I cupped water, I tried to squeeze under the spout. I used a wash rag but I needed a hose. I laughed and I cried. The tears washed a little of the soap off. I came up with a title for Bill O’Reilly’s next book, KILLING FAUCET. I climbed out of the tub. The referee called it a TKO as I threw in the towel. To make matters worse, my wife made me sleep in the extra bed because she knew I still had dirt on me. Only now it was soapy dirt, the kind of residue bad carpet shampooers leave behind. Yipes.
The next morning finally came and I did what any similar guest would do, I headed to the free breakfast buffet and bathroom faucet seminar. The hotel employee seemed to sense my dilemma as she nodded her head in acknowledgement before I hardly had a chance to relay my story. Apparently the new fixtures posed perplexing plumbing problems for many a guest. I was advised as to how to make the shower work and was told the hotel was thinking of posting a memo in the rooms or having a fixture display at the front desk for tutorial purposes. I looked around for a suggestion box to second that motion. I certainly think the hotel should give you maybe 5000 extra reward points if you solved the puzzle yourself and 10,000 if you didn’t. Or couldn’t.
I went back to the room and headed straight for the bathroom. I turned on the water, reached under the spout, grabbed a ring ( obviously the secret decoder ring ) and pulled it down about an inch till it locked into place and Holy, Holy Water, the shower started to work. I was able to retain this newly acquired knowledge throughout the day and took a long, slow, soaking shower that night. And my wife let me sleep with her again. Ahhhhh, sweet rewards. Sweet and clean rewards.