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Slices of Life: A Sunday afternoon bathroom emergency
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We had an urgent issue in the bathroom - as bathroom issues can sometimes be.

An annoying drip from the tub's faucet had grown into an exasperating trickle that could no longer be ignored. This occurred on a Sunday (of course it did) when any plumber worth his plunger had the day off. Hence we were left to our own resources.

I took this as a challenge. I like challenges. My husband is okay with challenges, but he prefers spending Sunday afternoons on the couch watching whatever sporting event is on TV. This weekend it was golf. And despite the phenomenal edge-of-your-seat sporting frenzy that TV golf provides, the bathroom was calling.

At least I heard it calling. I fully understood what this Niagara Falls of a leak might do to our water bill. So I set out to educate myself on bathroom faucets. After viewing a few online tutorials (which can make anyone an expert), I prepared to take action. I turned off the house's water supply and grabbed a variety of tools, most of which were featured in the tutorials.

My husband remained on the couch. He hadn't yet caught my passion for plumbing, which didn't matter because I was feeling plumber-strong and ready to take a crack at the job. I grabbed a hammer and headed for the biffy.

I took to pounding on parts that needed loosening. My husband, hearing the ruckus and undoubtedly fearing the damage I could do with a hammer, soon joined me and we proceeded to dismantle the faucet.

According to the tutorials, we were in search of old O-rings, which are rubberish gaskets that create a tight seal and prevent leaks. After much prodding and pushing of various parts we found ourselves some O-rings. One was in clear need of replacement and we headed to the hardware store, full of hope.

The new O-ring cost 29 cents (31 with tax). We made the purchase and felt giddy at the overall ease of our project.

We returned home and replaced the O-ring. Our collective confidence filled the tiny bathroom. My husband went to turn on the water and soon thereafter it became crystal clear: our work was far from complete. The trickle of a leak had become a full-fledged stream.

We may be plumbingly-challenged, but we aren't quitters, so we shut the water off, re-dismantled the faucet and saw that our brand new O-ring was no longer brand new. It was mangled. We removed it from the faucet doo-hickey and returned to the hardware store to spend another 31 cents. We figured the first O-ring was faulty - an anomaly.

The second O-ring gave us a renewed sense of confidence. Temporary confidence; because it too showed up mangled. The water flow in the bathroom continued. We returned to the hardware store - again. And again. On the final trip we bought 62 cents worth of O-rings, to trigger good mojo and to save on gas for future trips.

Of course in the midst of all this each one of the kids had an immediate and paramount need to take a shower. At 2:00 in the afternoon. Because that is a common time to shower, apparently.

We managed to accommodate them - between trips to the hardware store, where we spent a grand total of $1.55. And, even though I increased my proficiency with a pipe wrench, the faucet won in the end. It's still broken and we're in search of a plumber. A real professional - not just some guy on YouTube, or worse yet an amateur like me who's watched a couple of his videos.

- Jill Pertler's column appears Thursdays in the Times. She can be reached at