...but that is sometimes how it seems. Like last night...as guests are leaving after the final festivities of Child Birthday Trifecta, a familiar pong wafts up to the nostrils. Eau de basement...oh, da basement. Yes, the mysterious hole in the floor, the portal to hell, is brimming with sewer water--has, in fact, overbrimmed all over the place. So at midnight, we call Roto-Rooter, and the Roto-People, incredibly, can come during the night. (For an extra $60.) At 3 a.m., a salvific man with a Roto-Thingie is clunking down the cellar stairs.
You know, our veneer of civilization is awfully thin--as thin as a sewer pipe. One clog and we're suddenly unwilling brethren with the favelas, with Cite du Soleil, with the whole Middle Ages...because our waste will not simply go away. And you don't know gratitude until a man comes with a big machine and makes it go away again. He performs ghastly rituals in the bowels (yes, indeed) of the house, and then comes the glorious cry: "Flush, and keep flushing!" Yes, sir, as long as you say, sir!
And then there is the bill...this time, almost $500. Not just because it's Roto-Rooter (they're not cheap, but they have been very good to us, much better than "Acme Rooter" or other imitators)...no, adding insult to injury, it's because the man had to use the super-duper Roto-Thingie. And why? Because the Ent has invaded the pipes again. Yes, Rootbeard, the five-story silver maple that towers over the CrazyStable, has struck again. In his implacable thirst, he destroyed the house's original clay sewer main with his steel-wool mat of probing rootlets, which reduced the lumen of the pipe to a sclerotic few inches' width. Back then, it was Roto-time every few months. Then, at least 10 years ago, we forked over an unimaginable $8,000 to have the entire pipe excavated with a back hoe and replaced with a supposedly root-proof sewer. Haha, Rootbeard, take that! Suck water from the topsoil like a mortal tree! (Shown here, Rootbeard's better-known cousin. All images: www.lordoftherings.net.)
But the Ent has prevailed. Roto-Man (using the bad-boy cutter) produced a wiry mat of roots bigger than our hands, which had been clutching at our effluvia. Now we are instructed to resume regular use of the root-killing cocktail down the toilet--a chemical whose labeling implies that it will destroy aquatic life as far away as Nova Scotia. Don't get me wrong--I love Rootbeard and his vast canopy of green, which obscures our view of the ugly public school across the street and cools our breezes. I even forgive him for harboring Bagel the Squirrel and his kin, who use the Ent's branches as a freeway between acts of vandalism. But turning the basement into the Dead Marshes again? If you see me tree-hugging anytime soon, look closer...I will be beating my fists on the trunk and uttering oaths involving chain saws and lumberyards.