The other day, well over several days because I procrastinate mightily over these things, I faced the ominous prospect of changing out a kitchen faucet. For most guys, no big deal. Uh, not me.

I shudder in fear of this for many reasons. Mechanical things and I somehow do not speak the same language. It is not fear of tackling the assignment that causes me the greatest trepidation, it’s that something will go wrong in the middle of the effort that I had not planned and we will be without water for a period of time. Ok, that’s just loads of words. Here’s the simple truth: fear of failure.

But in the spirit of personal growth and manly conquer, I moved forward. My attention to detail sharply increases when it comes to following instructions for efforts such as this. JD could interrupt me to say that he was getting me a brand new pair of boots and I merely smile. Patti could tell me we had won tickets to Disney World, deaf to my ears. Focus, my man! I turned off the water to the house out at the street.

As I pulled out all the parts of the faucet and laid them on the kitchen floor, the replacement parts did not say anything foreboding to me. You see, maybe it’s me and my psychotic nature, but I tend to give life to inanimate objects. For example, when the lawnmower doesn’t start after one or two pulls of the cord, I blasphemously (really?) cuss at the thing as if it is a truly disobedient child.  Patti gets quite a chuckle when I get angry at inanimate objects.

Well, the replacement parts just laid there. No warnings to me, no hint of pending doom, no intransigence in any of the pieces. Of course, the parts knew where they needed to go, they just needed some experienced hands to put them where they belong. Simple enough!

As I began to dismantle and remove the pieces of the old faucet, I began to hear slight rumblings from below, in the cabinet that housed the sink. They weren’t evil Stephen King-like rumblings that keep you up all night. Just slight rumblings.

Should have recognized the faint sounds of impending doom. After squirming around below the sink in the constrained spaces that hid the underside of the sink and the workings of the faucet, I managed to get the new faucet pieces installed.

Great! Maybe this is an end to my bad relationship with mechanical things. All that remained was to hook up the hot and cold water lines from the faucet to the leads coming into the house below the sink in that tight cabinet. Well, the fittings that are supposed to accept the leads from the faucet and connect pleasantly began viciously barking like two German shepherds fighting over a hunk of meat after not eating for two weeks.

Something was up. The leads were not fitting and the barking was getting much louder. I realized that I needed to cut off the hot and cold copper fittings and replace them. They were rusted beyond repair. After a trip to Lowe’s and the purchase of a cheap copper cutter and two new fittings, the barking began to subside a bit. I cut off the two leads and with channel locks and monkey wrench managed to install new fittings that looked beautiful. Nice and shiny silver. All of a sudden the barking stopped and the sound of preening dogs licking their glistening coat replaced the sounds of violent barking.

Maybe we were getting near the end. I fretted over these fittings, doing everything I could to make sure they were strongly bonded to the leads. Satisfied, I went outside and turned the water back on to test for leaks. Back inside and peering under the sink, all I could hear was the loud sounds of whining dogs as if every hound in adoption row was looking for a new master. The sound was deafening.

But the fittings and leads seemed to be holding. Praise the Lord and pass the cornbread!

Lady Gaga medium rare

A small leak began to drip from the hot lead. After contorting my body once again, I got under the sink and began tightening the fittings and leads. Again, the sounds of barking dogs were overwhelming. It was as if Lady Gaga adorned herself in her meat dress and began doing cartwheels across the  floor of the Westminster Dog Show with all the hungry dogs in rapt attendance.

The hot fitting burst off the copper lead and water began flooding through the kitchen. All hell broke loose. As Patti and JD grabbed anything that could soak up the flowing hot water, I headed to the street to turn off the water.

The water stopped, and the opening to the hot water lead looked as if a human had just exclaimed, “Oh!” Underneath the cabinet, the loud sounds of barking dogs subsided and were replaced with the sound of that cartoon dog we used to watch as children who just snickered when bad things happened in the household.

We cleaned up the mess, threw the squishy, saturated floor mats from the kitchen out to the back yard to dry in the morning, and I sat at the table sulking. That damn cartoon dog kept snickering under the sink and I could hear it … all night long.

The next morning, experienced plumbers came to “finish the work.” I stayed away from the kitchen, more out of embarrassment than anything.  And, to add insult to injury, the two plumbers who came to our rescue were the same two plumbers who came to the house two weeks ago when the very same thing happened in the main bathroom with the toilet.

If there are any lessons to be learned by this effort, it is that I did not know how strongly mechanical things were tied to the animal kingdom in my view of the world, and that I am a great set-up man for people with true mechanical skills to demonstrate them.

As Dirty Harry Callaghan said in Magnum Force, “A good man knows his limitations.”