Friday, April 06, 2007

Bad Friday

Some Like It Wet

If bad means something's really good, then I guess Good Friday really means Bad Friday. At least that's the way it worked out for me. Bad in a particularly wet way.

I had the day off, but thanks to Pacific Life Intl., I was awakened at 10 a.m. for an unsolicited telemarketer call. Someone called hours earlier and I suspect it was them, but I managed to ignore it and fall back asleep. "Look," I said, assuming this was yet another home mortgage lender, "You guys are the first call I get every morning and the last call I get at night. I never pick up because I'm tired of the solicitations. two years ago I made the mistake of answering an online survey about refinanced home mortgage rates and it's the bane of my existence now because I get non-stop calls from people like you."

"Well sir," the woman on the other end replied, "That's not what we're calling about. We're calling in response to a request you or someone in your family made about assistance with a bed wetting problem." What? A bed wetting problem?

Put It To Bed

"That's bullshit," I replied angrily. "I never called about anything like that. I've probably been pranked by someone. I'm a 50-year-old man with a strong bladder and I do not wet my bed! And why would I call the West Coast for bed wetting assistance if I live in Baltimore? Don't you think we have bed wetters out here on the East Coast and people to help them [The area code indicated this was a West Coast call] Please take me off your list forever and stop calling me!"

Geesh! I mean, yes, I have some stains on my bedsheets, but they're from eating chocolate in bed (thank God I have brown bedsheets to masque some snack residue!). years earlier someone pranked me by mailing me a free Depend Adult Diaper. I remember opening my mail on the front porch while my then-neighbor Pam, a single nurse, asked, "Anything good?" As I ripped the package open, I embarrassingly muttered, "Um, it's a free sample of..."

"Is that a diaper?" Pam asked.

"Uh, yes," I muttered, knowing she knew I was a single male with no offspring (that I know of).

Apres Les Deluge

But wait, there's more moisture in the air than just bed pee innuendos. Two days earlier I went down to do my wash and noticed that there was water all over the back of my basement. I called my friend Chris the Plumber, but couldn't get through to him for a couple of days. I assumed it was just more water seeping down my back wall into the basement from clogged gutters, a problem I had had before. It didn't rain in the two-day interim, so I thought I could wait until Friday before getting the Wetvac out to clean up. Only then did I discover that the water damage had extended to my HVAC room, where I clearly saw a steady stream of water pouring out of my hot water heater like a keg-killing frat boy taking a endless beer piss.

I then proceeded to make as many bad, rash decisions as a certain recent President of the United States trying to run a country. I called every plumber I could get a hold of after a frantic Google search, but being a Holiday weekend, was only able to get Acme Plumbing to make a service call.

The stereotypical Howard Stern-worshipping, 98 Rock-listening, strip club-frequenting plumber arrived at my house, a young dude with a backward baseball cap and blue collar bling in the form of gold chains around his neck and wrist. He immediately starting laughing when he spotted a photo of The Penis Tree - a notorious piece of topiary off Woodbine Avenue in Baltimore City that is shaped like a male member - on my fridge. Somehow we got on the subject, as plumbers invariably will, of porn. Maybe he spotted some of the other photos on my fridge of me posing with adult film stars years ago when I interviewed many of them as part of my public (and sometimes pubic) access TV show, Atomic TV.

"You ever bang any of those porno stars?" the plumber asked. I answered in the negative, explaining I was strictly a video voyeur who liked to interview them. He then told me about his night out at the Gold Club and at Fantasies and how he dropped over $200 giving props to the dancers there. A plumber can drop that kind of change like you or I would drop a dime. It's about what I got charged that day for the service call. All in a day' work!

This guy must have been loaded. He said that in addition to having dated several strippers (Wait - plumbers dating strippers? Stop the presses! Next you'll tell me construction workers frequent gentlemen's clubs!), he used to sell drugs at the strip clubs. "All the dancers are drug addicts," he assured me. I told him about La Hacienda in Manchester, England, the music club run by the Joy Division/Factory Records guy and how it never made any money despite having capacity crowds to see bands there because the ravers didn't drink booze - which would have sustained the bar's operating costs - instead shelling out all their money for coke, X and Special K from the plentiful drug dealers plying their trade there.

I actually went on a date with a stripper once, this girl Brandy (yes, yes, she was "such a fine girl," just like the Looking Glass song) because I met her in an after hours club and she had really good taste in movies. We went and saw The English Patient, but after that night I realised but I couldn't afford to date a stripper. They expect you to pay for everything and their taste in music is horrible! All that hip hop shit. And yes, she was stoned out of her mind, so no fighting against typecasting there.

Anyway, the plumber was a nice guy and we negotiated a price to replace the hot water heater and the plumber dude headed off to the warehouse to get the equipment, but me, being an idiot, started to think I should get more estimates. When my Dad told me he had called BGE and that they could beat the price by $150, I panicked. I called back to cancel the installation. Then I called BGE but couldn't get through. Then I called back to make sure the original Acme quote included the house call. It did. I tried to cancel my cancellation, but couldn't. To make a long story short, I finagled and ended blowing it. The Acme guy stopped buy to charge me $200 for not installing a new hot water heater. meanwhile I had set up an appointment with BGE for a vague appointment sometime between 9 and 4 on Saturday.

To further complicate matters, Chris the Plumber finally called back, told me he could beat BGE's price by $100, but needed to know now so he could pick up the hot water heater at his warehouse and install it tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. having already cancelled one scheduled installation, I balked. I would of gone for it had I heard back sooner, but I was in a jam and realised I had spent the last six hours dealing with plumbing crap. I went for the sure thing, even though Chris the Plumber used to work for BGE and specialized in hot water heater installations. I guess I figured going with the big company meant I could count on more technicians being available for service calls the next time I had an emergency.

Talk about stress! All I wanted to do at this point was to take a shower.

A cold one, needless to say.

I probably should have skipped it, but I felt really grungy and, well, I guess I'm just a drama queen who must have constant trauma. I had a tennis match in less than 90 minutes, which logistically nixed any thoughts of heading over to my girlfriend's apartment for a hot shower.

The Big Chill

Ever take a cold shower on a day whose low temp was 30 degrees? It's probably routine down at Guantanamo, where water boarding is considered a sport. But for we mere mortals it's quite painful. Trying to wash shampoo out of my hair gave me a migraine headache effect, the kind of throbbing pain akin to snorting a pint of ice cream in one gulp.

Quickly dashing into my bedroom and turning on the room heater, I got dressed for tennis, gathered my bag and headed over to the Cross Keys Racquet Club. But while driving there I noticed my big left toe was numb and tingling, as if it was asleep. It was really numb! I had to pull over, take my shoe off and massage it. Then I got back on the road and headed to the club.

Toe-d Away

When I arrived, I went straight down to the shower facilities. There I pulled my sock off to look at my toe. It was completely white next to my otherwise fleshy brown foot. And still numb. I filled the sink with warm water and soaked it for several minutes, rubbing vigorously to restore some color to it.

I wanted to default, but my team talked me into playing and I figured running around for a couple of hours would get some blood circulating in my toe. After playing the requisite two sets over the next two hours, we were done, but my toes still didn't feel right, it still tingled like it had dead nerve endings. One of my tennis teammates said it sounded like an ailment she suffered from, Reynaud's Syndrome, a nervous system disorder in which toes and fingers go numb and turn dead white, as if all the blood has left them. Oh great, I thought. I had something similar to this years ago when my hands were exposed to sub-freezing temperatures for a prolonged period. As a result, the tip of my right hand pinky finger goes numb in cold weather.

Gnarly Marley

Then Evelyn, my losing opponent that night said, "I probably shouldn't mention this, but you know Bob Marley died right after he hurt his toe."

What the f***? I never heard that! Great, now I have to go home and Google "Bob Marley" and "toe"! I later found out that Marley injured a right toe while playing soccer in France in 1977. The injury refused to heal and instead quickly worsened - the entire nail came off and doctors recommended amputation. Citing religious beliefs, a limping Marley refused the surgery and gamely continued on tour. Later that summer, Marley finally allowed an orthopedic surgeon to perform a skin graft on the toe and the procedure was deemed a success. But in September of 1980, a weakened Marley almost fainted onstage while performing in New York. The next day, he collapsed while jogging in Central Park; he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the result of the untreated cancer in his toe! Oh boy!

I headed over to my girlfriend's place to take a hot bath and massage it some more. It was too late to make it to Patient First, but I went the next morning and it was pretty pointless. All they could do was advice me to see a specialist if I experienced further tingling in my Hallux (the anatomical term for the big toe) or if it extended to my foot. And possibly get blood work to rule out diabetes. Diabetes! Actually the doctor did hand me a left-footed compliment when she felt my footsie and commented, "You've got a great pulse there!" Hey, I do what I can.

So now, as I type this, the BGE plumber has just left with my check for over $770 dollars to install a new hot water heater and my toe is still numb. I don't know if the toe injury is related to the 2-minute duck-and-cover shower I took (and I was darting in and out of the shower for most of it!) or if I'm just lucky.

What a Good Friday it was! In the course of the last 24 hours I lost a grand and all feeling in my big toe. Easter Monday I'm praying blood will rise again from my dead toe, replacing my Reynaud's disorder with a most welcome Lazarus effect.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to go to to sign up for the national do not call registry. I barely get telemarketer calls!

3:13 PM  
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