Some things you just don’t expect to fail, but there she was Sunday evening, just doing her usual magic in the kitchen when the unexpected happened. She was moving the high swiveling spout on the kitchen faucet from one side of the double sink to the other when it snapped off. Right in her hand. I was sitting in the den at the computer and happened to see her through the doorway as it happened. It was so unexpected that she instinctively tried to press it back into place – we had an extended laugh over that.
Inspection revealed the obvious – the swivel joint had tightened over its twelve-year life and corrosion had further weakened it. Metal fatigue. Sure seems like a simple chromed faucet spout ought to last longer than that, but hey, Forrest Gump is right. Life is like a box of chocolates. So, I’m thinking this problem might have a silver lining. This just might be a chance to boost the female mood – something us veteran husbands know should never be wasted. The faucet valve had developed an irritating idiosyncrasy of its own, dripping unless turned off from the hot side of the lever despite my putting three different repair kits in the darn thing, and, she’s been complaining that the sink is worn out too – a white-coated stainless steel that was of less than stelar quality at its birth and which had developed permanent scratches and rust-colored marks.
This will be a snap to fix, I confidently told her. (Should have known better than to say that.) We’ll just go down to the giant hardware store and pick us out a pretty stainless steel replacement. After dinner and putting the dishes in the dishwasher, I carefully measured the outer dimensions of the sink, and off we went. Sure enough, they had a big impressive display of sinks, some with faucets included, and a whole section that exactly matched the 33″ x 22″ size I had measured. She picked a sink kit that came with one of those fancy spouts that is a combination of aerator and sprayer and we arranged for an installer to bring it out the next afternoon. Two men arrived with it, not Monday but Tuesday, and commenced the job. All was well until they put the sink in place – it didn’t fit! Lacked about ¾” in fact. It turns out that the design of stainless steel sinks had evolved since we bought ours, and the clamp attachments underneath now interfered with the edges of our cutout. The first thought of course was to enlarge the cutout – no dice. There were structural cabinet walls on either side and zero room to cut, dishwasher to the left and pull-out trash to the right. Nuts.
No problem, Norman the installer says. You just need a drop-in style sink without the attachments. Should not be a problem. Buy it, he says, and he would come back and put it in. Norman leaves with the old sink, and we’re looking at a big cavity. I suddenly realize we can’t even work the dishwasher now because it was connected to the sink and disposal. We went to 4 different places in town – no stainless steel sinks without the attachments. I call Norman and casually (quaking internally) ask, say, you still got that sink? Amazingly, he does, but he is incredulous at the problem. I buy a new faucet, still hoping for some female attitude adjustment from at least that.
Norman and son show up Wednesday morning, ugly old sink in hand, and we commiserate. Then he says, what about a cast-iron sink? Huh? We had been asking about
stainless steel sinks as though that was the only kind. Turns out, cast-iron sinks, while more expensive, don’t have the attachments underneath. Porcelain coated, they are rugged and stay where they’re placed with only silicone glue around the perimeter. He and son go off and return less than an hour later, sink in hand. It weighs about 100 pounds. Result: gleaming new sink and faucet, everything working, wife cautiously happy. Norman says it will last forever. And the faucet doesn’t drip.
It is amazing how a tiny little thing like a sink and faucet can be so important to one’s life. Filling up the coffee maker in the bathroom, rinsing stuff there too. Dishwasher filling up with uncertain prospects of completion. Visions of ordering a complete cabinetry re-do for thousands and waiting months to get it. Eating out, pleasure dulled by vague uncertainty, visions of full dishwasher and no clean dishes. Now, however, I get a little tingle of pleasure when I go into the kitchen and see the new installation. The pull-down spout even has three buttons: full gush, spray or aeration. Sometimes I sneak in there and play with it.
I wonder what chocolate will drop into our lives next?