The Temperature, The Toilet and The Test

Here’s how hot it is.

I left a baseball in the back seat of my car. I left my car parked out in the sun.

The ball turned brown on one side.

It is at least 100 degrees right now. We tied an all-time record of 104 in Charlotte over the last three days. We could have it worse. In Columbia, the city where God focuses His magnifying glass and tries to burn people like ants, it hit 113.

I just went to the store and bought a box fan. It’s on a chair at the end of the couch, blowing luke warm air over Wife and me. Every blind in our condo is closed to repel the sun. The air conditioner, fresh off a¬†Freon¬†recharge, is working as hard as a 1985 Trane still can, coughing and wheezing and somehow able to keep the temperature in here down to 86. That’s impressive. It’s like a 90-year-old trying to run a 5K. The results aren’t great, but you have to admire the effort.

This, I think, was part of my Annual Fortitude Test. At some point during the year, something happens that tests my tolerance. I always pass. Somehow I am able to slog my way through just about anything. A few years back, I passed The Test by spending an entire weekend in Gatlinburg. Another year, The Test took the form of an apartment in West Virginia without a dishwasher. In college, I was able to survive for a week without a functioning commode in my house. The landlord wouldn’t fix it right away. I passed The Test by timing my bowel movements around trips to Burger King.

This year’s Test began yesterday. Wife and I bought a new Kohler toilet. It’s a magnificent thing. The seat is an extra two inches higher than most seats, which the box breathlessly describes as being good for your back. It is low flow. And it has an elongated bowl. Bigger target. The old one had to go, because even though I somehow had been able to tolerate it for six years, it flushed with the sheer velocity of a tree sloth. Instead at whooshing, the water in the bowl would gently ripple while the sound of a crying baby goat came from the tank.

Wife and I had already decided days ago that Saturday had to be Toilet Day. So we dragged it into the condo in the triple-digit heat, dripping with sweat and stopping for breaks every five steps. Then we carried the old one out. She got the tank. I got the bowl. The water that I hadn’t been able to ShopVac out looked horrifyingly refreshing.

After that, I hunched over an open sewer pipe in the stagnant air of the bathroom. I lifted up the porcelain and scraped off the wax and looked into the opening in which every bit of poo had exited the condo for the last 27 years. It was like staring Lucifer in the face. I bolted the new toilet down as quickly as I could to keep any more methane demons from escaping.

I worked quickly. My hair matted into a wet mess, and my face turned red. I put the tank on the top. I had to run back out into the heat to buy a new water hose. Then the tank leaked. Then I couldn’t level it.

The DIY book said I’d finish in an hour. It took five.

I put the seat on. I pushed the button. It flushed. I didn’t sit down on my new throne. That’s no fun when it’s hot.

I don’t think The Test is over. The box fan is moving the air, but we’re still not cooling down. I don’t know the code to get into my complex’s pool. And after showing some initial promise, the excitement of the new toilet has worn off. It is, after all, a toilet.

The only solace I have is that the sun is going down, and that may help us get down to a merciful 80 degrees in here. Hopefully, the air conditioning guys can get back out here tomorrow. Maybe if I can stop sweating before the end of the day, I’ll pass The Test. If not, you have to admire the effort.

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