The Overflowing Toilet Effect
I was going to title this post something that sounded polite like ” The Overflowing of Opportunities” and then I was going to type: “I was really tempted to call this post the overflowing, clogged up toilet of opportunities but I thought that might give the impression that I was ungrateful for the many opportunities that occurred at the same time this summer and created the overflowing toilet effect on my life.”
…and then I gave up, acknowledged that I’m the person constantly dumping my meals down the front of my shirt, threw polite to the wind, said a silent apology to my mother and just decided to name it what it is.
Let me explain what The Overflowing Toilet Effect is by one of my favorite stories of all times.
I grew up down the street from my best friend of 35 years. Her family was mine, as well, and there was never a dull, boring moment in that house. We grew up being yelled at by my best friend’s mom to “quit air-conditioning the neighborhood or I’ll smash your face off” as we ran out of the house without slamming the door shut. The part to keep in mind was that there was always love in the “…or I’ll smash your face off” or in the threats of “you’re so sweet, I just want to bite you.” It never seemed weird, even to this day. I know, just go with it.
On a particular evening, when we were in high school, my best friend was in the kitchen washing dishes and barely tolerating that chore in the only way she knew how- by blaring the music on her boom box, next to the kitchen sink. My best friend’s mom was somewhere close by, maybe in the living room or dining room and her brother, well, he was in the bathroom. Without subjecting you to too many details, the toilet managed to clog up and began to overflow…everywhere. It seemed logical, to my best friend’s little brother, that the best way to retrieve help was to stay rooted in place next to the toilet and scream at the top of his lungs. No one heard his screams, though, because of the blaring radio in the kitchen and the added vocals from my best friend. So, on and on, the toilet overflowed.
It flowed into the kitchen and on into the living room, while brother screamed and best friend continued to sing, until my best friend’s mom finally noticed….and all hell broke loose.
We both come from loud families, made all the louder when we have to talk over each other, with love of course, in a war of voices and stories. So you can imagine that, when my best friend’s mother discovered that there was a source of water free flowing everywhere, that the loudest voice in two families was going to hit record highs.
I don’t remember what the actual words were, but it was something similar to, “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
My best friend, meanwhile, vaccinated and a successful tolerance built up to loud, alarmed mother voice, happily ignored the screaming. On she scrubbed with a single minded focus of “the faster I get this done, the sooner I get to see my boyfriend”, who happened to be on his way over.
My best friend’s mom waded upstream and located the source of the water and a still screaming youngest child and started screaming herself to “GET TOWELS.” He snapped to and grabbed the first thing nearest to him- the special guest towels. Let me just say that even I knew those towels were off limits- don’t touch, don’t use and, as a matter of fact, don’t even look their way.
Before the guest towels could be saved, they were thrown onto the floor, in the area we will call Ground Zero, around the toilet and promptly flowed away in the swift water rapids caused by the overflowing toilet. I don’t know this to be a fact, but I imagine the guest towels as they drift past my best friend as she bellowed, “…friends in low places where the whiskey….” and never noticed the towels and the chaos in the next room because there was still scrubbing to be done.
Back at the overflowing toilet, two screaming voices were now warring with each other. One was screaming to scream and the other was screaming with a purpose…and as all kids know, there’s a special tone that their mother’s voices hit that will cut through any other would be competitor’s voice. It’s the tone that will trigger the fight or flight response and, if your life is worth more than a gumball, you better either fight on your mother’s behalf or run towards her not away, never away.
My best friend looked towards the source of the fight-n-flight tone, noticed the still flowing water and walked cautiously towards the bathroom (I don’t blame her for the slow pace), as the screaming came to a crescendo that sounded like, “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH TOWELS AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.”
She peeked around the corner and was spotted by her mother. “GET TOWELS!!!!” While her brother screamed, “AHHHHHHHHHHHHH” as if the Loch Ness Monster was trying to make her way out of the bowels of the toilet. My best friend ran to grab towels in the laundry room next door and ran them back to her mother…and went back to the goal of getting the dishes done.
The 1990’s country music was still blaring on the radio and her mother rounded the corner into the kitchen screaming something at her. “What?!” she screamed back. Louder they screamed and her mother gave up and ran past her, in time to hear the front door bell ring. This- the door bell- turned into the “final straw” or cherry on top of the hot fudge sundae. My best friend’s mother changed directions and bore down on the front door and wrenched it open with all her strength, rage and pure violence.
Luckily or unluckily, the unfortunate soul that dared to ring the doorbell was not a salesperson, but my best friend’s long time boyfriend. I really can’t even imagine that scene and the face off between the clueless teen aged boy and the wild and crazy mother with the blaring country music behind her and the roaring rapids of the toilet still flowing by and a screaming youngest child and an inconvenienced oldest child and the guest towels now caught and creating a dam that a beaver could move into around her legs along with paper towels, metal toy trucks and anything else the youngest one could find to try to stop the sewage geyser.
But because the teen age boy was now the “final straw” or maybe it was the fisher price farm that had caught in the leg dam and rerouted the water down the bedroom hallway, my best friend’s mother had enough. A primal scream escaped her body and she shot two middle fingers straight up in the air along with a final banshee cry and kicked the door shut in his face.
So, with that example, and if it isn’t abundantly obvious, The Overflowing Toilet Effect is a accumulation of things that, together, seems to unleash mass chaos.
My own began with:
“I thought it was going to be a calm summer.”
Keep an eye out for Part Two soon…