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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gas Leak

One of my worst fears came true last night.

(No, the Monkees are all still alive and I don't have AIDS. Try again, please.)

We had a gas leak in the house.

Mrs. Apron called me at work at around 5:50pm, her voice quiet and shaking:

"When are you coming home?"

As soon as I walked in the front door, the odor almost knocked me down. I could taste it.

I called the PECO emergency number, and they were knocking on our door eight minutes later.

Sidebar: I find it amazing/appalling that PECO can have a truck to a residence in eight minutes for a gas smell, and the Philadelphia Fire Department has problems getting an ambulance to a residence in under forty minutes for a cardiac arrest. End of soapbox.

The PECO guy carried a device that looked like a game-boy attached to a dildo and he stuck it inside our stove, oven and all around our boiler, our hot water heater, and all along the pipes leading to the washer and dryer. Mrs. Apron and I stood in the basement and I held her close as the dil-boy contraption made ticking and clicking noises and then, when he would put it by one of the pipes leading to the dryer, it made a noise that sounded like an air-raid siren mated to a freshly-raped cat.

"I guess that's the bad noise, huh?" I said to the guy.

"Yeah, that's what all the customers say."

Oh. Pardon my lack of originality, the house we just bought is seconds away from becoming the next Hindenburg.

Of course, I shouldn't be giving the guy such a hard time. He did, after all, prevent us from dying in a way that would have made Hitler smile had such a tragic demise occured. After identifying the source of the gas leak, he isolated it and shut off the pipe leading to the dryer, and so our avacado-green Lady Kenmore had the night off.

I then made the mistake of contacting my parents for help. All I wanted was the phone number of a general contractor to replace the pipe fitting. My mother answered the phone.

"Hi. Everything's fine, okay? (pause.) We've had a gas leak in the house."

Fortunately, I didn't hear the dreaded thud on the other end of the phone signaling that my mother had just collapsed like a bulldozed tree in the rainforest. After I explained everything and asked for the phone number of a general contractor she says,

"Talk to your father."

"But, I don't want to," I whined. Ah, how quickly we regress. Twenty-eight years old to five-and-a-half in under 3 seconds.

I told him what happened.

"Well, mummy, you know, this is not something you could have predicted. It's okay. These things happen-- I mean, shit-- if you'd bought our house, you would have had some big problems, too. So, you know-- don't feel bad--"

"Dad?" I interrupted, seeking instant clarification, "I didn't call you because I need a pep-talk. I called you because I need the phone number of a general contractor who can fix our fucking pipes."

My father decided that you do not call general contractors for this kind of job, you call a plumber.

"But the PECO guy said--"

"FUCK HIM, OKAY?! Let me tell you what a general contractor does, you idiot! He comes, looks, and he says, 'Oh, well, fuck! I can't do all this.' And he hires a schvartze plumber who comes and does it, and then you get TWO fucking bills!"

He told me he would find the name of a plumber, and then he hung up on me.

Four minutes later, I get a text message from my father:

"Call us thanks dad c"

We were just on the phone together-- why is he texting me? And what is "c?" My father's text messages always contain at least one extraneous character, usually a full word, that has absolutely no relevance to the preceeding text message. It's a mystery, just like everything else about him.

I called him back.

"Do you have a phone number for me or a pep-talk?"

He had the number of a plumber. He charged $39.00 for a house visit, but then he applies that cost to whatever work he does.

Sure you do.

"Old pipes leak, the way old people do," my old landlady once told me, while thoroughly intoxicated. She was undoubtedly speaking from experience, on both counts, being the owner of a 122-year-old house and the owner of 67-year-old internal waterworks. The plumber who came to our home this morning showed me some very old pipes, corroded like a Chrysler product from the 1970s. Four pipes and their connectors had to be replaced, as did the antiquated and now illegal plastic connector for our clothes dryer. He was there from 9am-1pm, and the bill was painful, but now my wife and dog and I aren't all going to die together in the home in which we plan to live together for a long, long time.

While the plumber was hard at work, infiltrating our pipes and bank accounts, my phone buzzed. It was you-know-who.

"Hi r the gas pipe
fixed? Love dad mcnab"

I think I'm going to start calling him that from now on. I kind of like it.


  1. Hilarious! And, I would have put you on the list, but was afraid you'd trash this blog and start all over again....... isn't that why you trashed the last one? Cause I found you on the FB? ;)

  2. Look, all I figured was, upon arriving home, the dog wasn't dead yet, so the leak couldn't be that bad. I waited two hours, we weren't dead yet, so I called you. I think that's all logical. Except for the part where I didn't open a window. Hmmm...

  3. Your dad has a cell phone. Damn it.

  4. "dad mcnab" is a fantastic name. He should run with it.

  5. I think the best part of this entire thing, is Mrs. Apron's
    We're saving for a house right now....believe me when I say I'm bookmarking all of this for future reference.
    ps - dad mcnab=amazing

  6. so glad you are all's a scary thing to have a gas leak!

  7. game boy w/ dildo attached= best imagery ever


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