Attack of the self-destroying house

As a homeowner I’ve come to the realization that houses aren’t the privilege, comfort and status symbol I thought they were growing up. Instead, they’re something you end up getting if you’re not careful – like adult onset diabetes.

Or, if you prefer, they are like volcanoes – ready to erupt to cause destruction and misery at a moment’s notice. After the latest disaster I’ve taken to climbing on my roof, crumpling up $20 bills and feeding them to the gutters, where, I assume, they’re swallowed by the house, which accepts the offering and continues to function for another week.

Before this revelation I had neglected the House Gods, and naturally they began to grow restless. After what I thought was a “routine pipe cleaning” (non-sexual, as it was embarrassingly explained to me), I was gleefully informed that I had what amounted to a ticking time bomb under my house in the form of the sewer pipe made out of tissue paper, guano and the dreams of small Asian children – or something to the equivalent. I was told that based on the material of the pipe (not metal) it was slowly collapsing.

“It’s really not a matter of if, it’s a matter of WHEN it fails,” the plumbing demon said in the dark holding a flashlight up to its face before turning into a bat and flying out the window.

I told my wife the good news; because if I know one thing about women, it’s that they love plumbing stories and things to worry about. Not long after, she woke me up one night after hearing a noise.

“What was that?!” she asked, bolting upright.

“Probably a chainsaw murderer,” I replied.

“Oh thank God,” she said. “I thought it was the sound of the sewer line backing up.”

Then we had a belly laugh before going back to sleep.

I had filed this problem carefully away in the “out of sight, out of mind” category, though this sentiment was not shared.

“This doesn’t BOTHER you?” my wife asked.

“Honey,” I said, patiently, putting my hands on her shoulders. “Look at it like this. It’s like playing the lottery. Every morning we wake up with a dry, feces-less basement we won! Don’t you like winning?”

Ultimately, I agreed that it needed fixing but disagreed on the timetable. She wanted to do it immediately, whereas I wanted to do it “in the future” because Future Kelly has a giant money vault filled with gold doubloons. Present Kelly is a hungry orphan from a Charles Dickens novel with a soot-smeared face pressed up against a fancy store window.

“When are we going to get it fixed?” she pressed.

“What is time, really, when you think about it?”

“We’re doing this next week.”

“What? Absolutely not.”

After the appointment was scheduled a crew came over. They said it was going to be an “organized demolition”, which makes as much sense as a “sexy polo shirt.” I could’ve gotten the same results with a dozen kindergarteners armed with Red Bull and plastic shovels.

The process went something like this:

Step 1: Laugh manically at homeowner plight, stroking hairless cat while thumbing through yacht magazines

Step 2: Destroy lawn as painfully as possible

Step 3: Create giant hole to get to the “problem”

Step 4: “Fix” pipe (or just pound loudly on a rock for two days)

Step 5: Dump dirt over hole, making it look like we just buried a Sperm Whale.

Step 6: Leave yard looking like it was in a cannon fight

When out of my element I often attempt to force conversation or make up things that SOUND like they’re somewhat relevant. This never goes well.

“You sure know how to work that thing,” I word-vomited at one of the workers. It was one of those times where the sentence was forming in my mouth as my brain was saying “ABORT!” Of course, in that race my mouth is Usain Bolt and my brain is Porky Pig. I tried to recover.

“I like the way you work your MACHINE. I mean, it has nice nobs. I mean, I mean, uh, I’m not hitting on you! I like ladies! With, uh, breasts! Like my wife over there. Wife! Show this man your breasts, which I enjoy!”

She quickly went inside to draw up the divorce papers.

“Ha HA!” I said, nervously, before adding, “She has them, you know.”

To assist the settling of the giant sperm whale grave I was given a very technically advanced tool: a pipe with holes in it. The first time I used it, it broke. Being a Man, I figured I could repair it. I turned on the butane torch, because I have one of those, hoping that when I put a match in front of it I don’t explode. As it lit, I began to think just what the heck I was doing.

“Sodder? Is that how you say it? I wonder how you spell it. I think there’s an ‘l’ in there. Solder? That can’t be right. That reminds me of ‘soldier’, which now sounds weird because you get a ‘juh’ sound by only adding the letter ‘i’? Can that be right? Shouldn’t it be ‘solger’? Is that so hard? Who made up language? I want to know because they were drunk.”

As I was thinking about all that the butane torch emptied itself.

I’m a Man.


Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at or via Easy Cheese message. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny for house appeasement rituals, for he is the Shaman of the urban jungle.