I was out back with our dog Booker the other night performing a ritual we know as “high catch" "” throwing a baseball in the air and catching it myself while he walks around looking in bushes. It’s not productive, it’s just something we do.
On my last heave I gave the ball a little extra, and it went up and back, behind me, coming down near the house. I’d done that once before, and that ball had landed in the second-story gutter. This one looked like that one.
I didn’t want to run into the wall, so I let it drop. My old coach would have disapproved. I just stood and waited for it to land in the gutter.
Instead, it missed the gutter by inches and landed right bang on a PVC water pipe coming out of the house. I probably couldn’t do it again in 30 tries. The pipe broke, and water began flooding onto the ground in about the quantity you get when you run your bath.
Booker came over to observe. Although it was dark I could see that the break occurred where two pipes met. I thought maybe I could fit them back together. I squatted down to try it.
When I put the pipes together the water exploded into my face and onto my clothes with that “Ffffsssssss!" sound you get when you spike a hose with your finger. The pipes didn’t join.
To show I wasn’t soft, I tried again to reattach them. Again I got the “Ffffssssssss!" in the face and all over my clothes, but the pipes still wouldn’t fit. Nor could I see why they wouldn’t, because whenever I joined them I was blinded by the spray.
I was pretty wet by now, and I felt Booker was losing confidence in me. I decided to give it one last long serious try "” after all, there’s not much difference between wet and super-wet "” so I jammed the two pipes together again and held them there, working to thread them. The result was a much more sustained, longer-lasting “Fffffffssssssssss!" Those of you who enjoy physical comedy would have liked it.
Having established that the pipes wouldn’t reattach, I went into the house to tell Patti Jo what was new.
I was reluctant to do this. Every husband does a dumb thing now and then, but I’d been pushing my quota lately. I couldn’t keep it from her, though; the backyard was flooding, after all, and I looked as if I’d fallen off a yacht.
Her overall reaction when she saw me was amusement. I could understand it. I mean, I didn’t have to ask, “What are you laughing at?"
We turned the water off and the plumber came the next day. Telling him what happened, I felt a sense of grievance. The plumber never gets called in to see any of the smart things I do, and I think it gives him a false picture of what goes on around here.
Or maybe not.
SHERWOOD KIRALY is a Laguna Beach resident. He has written four novels, three of which were critically acclaimed.