Ms. Humor vs. The Virus, Round One
During this pandemic, my friend, Ms. Humor, keeps trying to show up, like an unwanted solicitor at my door. But I am in no mood. The virus is invisible like she is, but I don't feel like opening my home for either one of them. I'm just trying to make it through the day.
I prefer to hike, though apparently some Denverites are learning-impaired and can't estimate six feet accurately. I partially solved this problem by bringing bones along and throwing them off the trail for their leased dogs. Pissed off, and after the hike, I needed a soothing shower. Steve headed for the gardens to hoe. "Angel," he said, 'just so you know, there's a bunch of paper piled up back by the coreopsis gardens."
I ignored it. "I'll shower first, Steve, then you can." In the foothills here, the wind howls and catches the copy paper from inside our recycle bin (we're both writers). Occasionally, our split rail fence acts like a Colorado snow barrier that forces snow to drift into accumulated, desired places. And with snow on the ground since November, the paper mound had probably been buried underneath for months--until Steve noticed its soggy remnants. And the pandemic had left me with no energy to deal with it. Besides, paper is biodegradable.
A half hour later, I found Steve munching in the kitchen. "Hey ..." he began, "while I was hoeing, I saw some sudsy bubbles foam up by the coreopsis. And," he grinned, "it kinda smells down there, too. No shortage of toilet paper in this household."
It occurred to me why he was munching, not showering."This isn't funny!" I shrieked, and rushed outside. I watched that mound of toilet paper in the coreopsis garden creep, a moving glacier, toward our neighbor's bazillion-dollar house. The glacier of crystalline toilet paper glittered in the sun's setting beams and had split into three arms, between the fjords of budding honeysuckle shrubs below. And, as of yesterday, Mr. Murphy Law had moved into Denver with a shelter in place law.
A magpie, perhaps a door-knocking, incognito Ms. Humor, landed on the glacier and pecked for dinner. Normally, my front door was like a farmhouse screen door that never completely shut -- open always for her visits. Not today. I returned to the house and slammed the breezeway door behind me. A ping of wetness dropped on my cheek. I looked up, way up. Two stories high up. Up to a wet ceiling beneath the shower.
For five days, we waited for help. No luck. But luckily, we have extra bedrooms, because sleeping with a vibrant man who hikes daily and hasn't showered in five days, all while under house arrest, was not part of our marriage pact.
Steve opened the guest bedroom on Day 6 of Living With A Backed Up Sewer During A Pandemic. I lay in bed with our dog, Button, who was compulsively scratching her leg from the aforementioned hike five days earlier. Steve wrinkled his nose. "It smells gamey in here," he announced to his wife who was no longer going to make him an egg breakfast.
Hungry, he tried to make amends a couple hours later. He lay his head on my shoulder in the kitchen, near my armpit, for a loving moment. "You smell just a little bit," he said tenderly. "Not gamey though. That was Button."
As Steve made himself a PBJ sandwich for lunch, my sister-in-law called from Arizona. "What are you going to do now, Barb?"
Duh! Wasn't it obvious? I checked the weather forecast. We waited until it snowed two days later. In the cover of night, we did what any self-respecting homeowner would do: we flushed all the toilets and took quick showers as sprinkles of virgin snow intermingled with, well, you get the point.
And with a $3200 sewer bill -- not to mention the $4200 roofing bill the same week due to shoddy workmanship from a contractor now out of business -- I still cannot find one reason to laugh. I'm beginning to wonder which invisible visitor is more tenacious -- humor, or the virus.
Barbara Lynn-Vannoy is the author of The 10 Greatest Gifts We Give Each Other: A Memoir on the Magic of Marriage Vows and upcoming children's book, Read Me To Sleep Tonight.