Pipes & Gravity
by Flynn Washburne, October 12, 2016
You might find this a little difficult to believe, but every now and then I find myself in a condition of violent disagreement with some absurdly inappropriate, misinformed, cack-brained, puerile, or otherwise just plain wrong opinion that some jamoke has had the regrettable lapse in judgment to air in my hearing. It's true. I find a lot of the things other people say to be in need of correction and consider myself just the man for the job. Not only that, but my antagonistic impulse is so finely calibrated that sometimes, if I find something particularly objectionable about someone, I may just alter my position enough to orient myself in direct opposition to them where once I was in concordance. In other words, I will argue, as the colloquialism goes, with a stump. It's just part of my charm.
There is a particular individual with whose opinions I find myself clashing on a regular (weekly) basis, a vocal and outspoken gentleman with a lot of opinions and a platform on which to air and disseminate them which finds its way into my hands every week. I speak, of course, of The Editor—my editor, our editor, the HMFWIC of the AVA. It's a rare Monday that doesn't find me rattling pages and sputtering like a neglected teakettle in indignation at something he's said. Here's the thing, though.
Whatever egregious claim he's made or outrageous belief he's asserted, he follows it with a reasoned and sensible explanation of why he feels that way. He doesn't just throw out provocative statements for their immediate and visceral impact and have done with it. He takes a position, and he defends it, logically, reasonably, and intelligently. So much so that even I generally find myself thinking Huh, I never thought of it that way, or That's another way of looking at it, or at the very least, Okay, I get how he feels that way. I don't know that I'd go so far as to say he's changed my mind about anything, but I am respectful of his opinions and feel that we are participants in an exchange of ideas and part of a system wherein people can disagree and still coexist. The opposite of the current political discourse.
Much has been made lately of the widening gulf between Left and Right and the inflexibility of either side. Neither will listen to the other and no one is willing to compromise. Not wanting to be thought of as another rigid liberal unreceptive to different ideas, I made a point of paying a little more attention to what the Republicans are saying, and I was treated to the information that they are quite pessimistically inclined toward Hillary Clinton and the possibility of her ascension to the office, and in fact consider her the human and political equivalent of the crusty residue that gathers in the Antichrist's foreskin. Trump, in turn, is envisioned by the opposition as a crypto-fascist blowhard who eats children and expels dangerous greenhouse gases. As far as any reasoned, sensible explication of the problems currently facing our country and a detailed plan of attack for addressing them—the purpose, it would seem, of a political platform—that appears to have been abandoned in favor of a "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" style of squabble.
Trump keeps blathering about a wall. In regard to that, one of the great things about living in this modern age and having access to so much computing power is that real-world engineering problems can be accurately simulated prior to expending time, money and material on a doomed project, and 100% of experts agree: there will be no wall. He may as well promise a force-field, like Reagan did. Of course, Ronnie may be forgiven his childlike belief in the magic of SDI, given his cognitive limitations; Trump has no such excuse.
If this election were a video game, I would hit "reset," choose the "play a different character" option, and then ask myself what I was doing playing such a stupid game, unplug the console, and go outside. Dang. I've been as vocal as anyone in pointing out how the media plays into Trump's tiny hands by providing him with free coverage, and here I am devoting precious column-inches to our Skeets L'Orange when I could be regaling you with tales from the twisted annals of my own misspent life, as per usual.
I'm not very handy around the house, though sometimes I will pretend to be to make a favorable impression on someone, generally by frowning worriedly at the problem and bemoaning the lack of proper tools and/or materials to complete the job. Occasionally, though, the over-falsity of confidence engendered by that storied stimulant which used to animate my form would convince me that I was a home-improvement wizard, with predictably messy results.
My friend Michael's house generally had a project or three underway, with various tweakers taking stabs at them, with varying degrees of success. In his bedroom was an unplumbed vanity sink doing duty as a catchall for broken pipes and cigarette butts. Michael had decided to call in a professional to reconnect it to the water system, a course I deemed wasteful and unnecessary. "Ridiculous," I said. "I'll do it."
"Oh, you know plumbing?" Michael asked, doubtfully.
"Feh. How hard could it be? It's all pipes and gravity, right? Piece o' cake."
What remained of the former connection between the sink and the outflow was a short straight length of drain coming out of the bottom of the sink, and a pipe of similar length coming up out of the floor about 5 feet to the right and one back of the sink. All I needed to do was determine the necessary configuration, procure the proper lengths and joints of pipe, screw them together et voila! The miracle of running water.
I examined the situation carefully from all angles and drew up a diagram that I thought illustrated the most elegant and efficient path from the sink to the pipe. I didn't have any tools for measuring, but I estimated the size of the sink pipe to be roughly the diameter of a slice of pepperoni, and the outflow to be more the dimensions of a silver dollar. With those images fresh in my mind I headed down to Mendo Mill with my diagram for supplies.
There was a bewildering array of plumbing implements there, hundreds of bins with pipes and joints of all gauges and materials, T's and U's and copper and PVC and all manner of unidentifiable chingaderas. My head started to swim and I felt the first stirrings of panic. Relax, boy, I told myself. Look at your diagram. Start from the beginning.
I pulled out the plan I'd devised and knew I was in trouble when I couldn't determine which way was right side up. It looked like a map of the circulatory system of any higher mammal, drawn on a snooker table. Clearly, I'd have to rely on my memory. I grabbed a piece of pipe that looked about the right size and screwed a right angle on it. I knew that sinks had to have one of those curvy things in case you drop your ring down the drain, so I slapped one of those on. Now the thing was pointing up, and I was pretty sure water only goes down, so I found another L-shaped connector and reversed direction. Now I needed to go to the right a little bit, and after that 90 degrees to the left, and then down some more.
After quite a bit of experimentation and much rummaging about in the bins, I had a configuration I felt comfortable with. It was about 30 feet long and had more twists and turns than Highway 20 between Fort Bragg and Willits, but I felt sure that it would convey water from the sink to the ocean or wherever it goes. I disassembled the monstrosity and took it to the counter. "Find everything you need?" asked the clerk.
"If I haven't, I'll know the reason why," I said, inscrutably.
When I got back to the house I dumped out two big bags of plumbing parts, which Michael began to pick through and inspect skeptically. "Flynn, these aren't even for water. This here is electrical conduit, this is a tuba mouthpiece, I don't know what the hell this is—a section of Habitrail? — and this is a curtain rod. Were you even in the plumbing section?"
"I thought I was. I think I started out there and must have wandered a little far afield." "Alright, take it all back. I'm going to call a plumber."
I learned a valuable lesson that day, which is that even though it may seem that any idiot can do plumbing, this particular idiot was definitely not up to the task. And even though this little cautionary tale actually happened, I have in this instance put it into service as an allegory, in the sneaky, underhanded way of the liberal media. We're good like that—pretending to entertain or inform you when we're actually imposing our liberal agendas on you. You've probably already guessed that in this scenario, I am Donald Trump, the presidency is the vanity sink, Congress is the plumbing department at Mendo Mill, and you—the American people—are the ocean, or the water treatment plant, or wherever all the water goes. The detritus in the sink bowl is all the various social pathologies plaguing our nation. Bernie Sanders would, in a perfect world, be the amazingly competent and reasonably priced plumber come to fix the sink and save the day, but since he's hung up his plunger for the nonce it appears it'll be Hillary come to clean our pipes, and I believe I've already made clear I'm just fine with that scenario.
The message here is clear—you don't send a delusional tweaker to do a plumber's job, and you don't send a narcissistic huckster sociopath to do a statesman's job.