As the final pages of the first draft of my next novel fell out of the printer and were punch-holed into submission, it became time for me to tackle the next challenge: the recalcitrant toilet paper holder problem.
Its downward slant seemed designed on purpose to send the roll of toilet paper off itself and onto the floor, out of the reach of the seated roll-ee. Dangerous. I found an Allen wrench, the place where a tiny screw was not screwing well, and I crawled along the foot of the toilet bowl towards the culprit .
After few minutes of fiddling with the wrench, I got good at “righty tighty, lefty loosie,” and I worked the screw loose. About the size of a comma, it, now liberated, dropped to the floor behind the toilet, not once but thrice, and I was forced, on my knees, to feel my way to its resting places. Each time, the wrench slid under the rug or the counter or under an aching knee. I gave up, limped away.
So, that evening, over a glass of wine and his latest manuscript, I coerced my carpenter/writer buddy to help me. It would be an Even Steven deal. I was willing to assist him in placing his commas. He would get my toilet paper thingy level. He agreed.
I noted that he straddled the toilet, rather than crawling behind it as I did. His approach, aggressive, male, however, led to him dropping the screw, the wrench, and then, with a deep inhale, a mutter of the same words I’d used. The bar went on slumping. My friend wondered out loud if commas were worth the effort.
“Would super glue work?”
“Haven’t a clue. Any Malbec left?” he asked and we went on to commas.
This evening, undaunted, I discovered a tube of super glue in our weird-tubes cabinet. I can do this, I told myself. I straddled the toilet, loosened the screw, dropped it but didn’t swear, squeezed the glue into the hole and when I found it, onto the screw, wrenched it one more time, and wiped the overflow off with my fingers.
Within minutes the holder was solidly parallel to the floor, no longer a threat to the rolls that trusted it. And within the same minutes my fingers had become a mass of bone and flesh, no longer fingers. No longer possible were attempts to poke at keys on my computer. No longer did the corkscrew fit into my paw. No longer could I avoid noticing the irony of believing that one can be good at anything she tries, when her fingers are glued together.
I still believe. But sometimes it takes time, a very hot shower and a bottle-opening husband to affirm that belief.