3:00. Do not ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolled for me.
Will donned work boots and commanded me to leave the leak to him and to go about my day. And I would gladly have done just that. But I knew from grim experience the quickest route to the leak. I knew he would need a gofer to run back and forth to the street to turn on and off the water and then into the kitchen to run the water through the fridge to take the pressure off the line every time we turned the water off. He needed to take a towel, tape, scissors, his cell phone, kneepads, flashlight. But mothers need to back off sometimes. So in he went. Cold turkey.
Could I please turn the water off?
Indeed. I was poised and ready, but I discovered a hitch. The city had replaced the valve at the street and our convenient re-bar tool, a giant reverse screwdriver, no longer fit the valve head. OK. Vice grips. From under the house, Will told me where they were and I trotted there. Yes. You are dead right. I am stove-up now from all this trotting and squatting.
Vice grips in hand, I approached the valve. Had the valve been level and flat this story would lack a certain Facing-the-Giants element. But the valve was a little tilted and at the bottom of a 6 inch deep hole. So the vice grip handles couldn’t turn 1/16th of a revolution without hitting the sides of the hole, repeatedly knocking the pinchers off the valve, dinging my knuckles, and ruining the manicure I had gotten for Adrienne’s graduation. It was a physics problem I couldn’t solve, and could have been the proverbial straw. But here is where being a Category 2 came in handy and downright saved the day.
Remember, we 2ers weep over novels. The novel I am weeping over right now is The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. When you finish reading this, go get a copy. It is a glorious recounting of the battle of Gettysburg from both sides’ perspective. And though I am a proud southerner and my gut twisted to know we were going to lose this particular battle, my admiration for Union General Lawrence Chamberlain literally knew no bounds. The God-given idea to fix bayonets and charge down Little Round Top against all odds was breathtaking.
And so, when I managed to get the valve turned and the water off and to trot back and resume my prone position holding the flashlight and Will said, “Now I can’t tell exactly where the leak is anymore. Could you turn the water back on?” I was able to summon my inner Chamberlain and say, “Fix bayonets! Charge!”
I would do this 10 more times for various reasons until my trotting became walking, then listing, then limping, then staggering. “Fix bayonets. Charge,” I whispered on the tenth wrestle with the vice grips on the valve, knowing too that the grips were stripping the valve head down to the shiny metal and giving evidence of my bumblings. I rubbed a little mud on it to cover mein kampf.
I found out later that my neighbor, watching my mud-covered, repetitious trips to the valve hole, thought I was planting a tree.
In the end Will patched the leak sufficiently that the duct tape is still in place and the hose hasn’t been replaced.
And Chamberlain and his Maine regiment have just been moved to the center of the Union line, right where the Rebel George Pickett is about to aim his noble charge uphill and exposed and utterly magnificent.
I am Chamberlain and Pickett.
And I am a Category 2!