Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu


The world is in the hands of plumbers, roofers and tilers. Only mendicant monks are free of them. When their bowls crack, they get another one. Anyone else must bow to the Yellow Pages. I know that you're expecting a juicy lament about all that beset my real estate this past week, the gory details of unworkable fixtures, hidden pipes and woodrot. The story about the foreign (read "French") bathtub fixture that baffled men of ancient plumbing experience; the unworkable toilet that sits on the porch like a candidate for the Duchamp Hall of Fame, awaiting a part that is never stocked by anyone within living range; the speech of the House of Tiles owner who claimed that nobody of anybody's acquaintance ever slipped on a ceramic bath floor tile; the days of nail-biting. All of that happened, it's true, but while it was happening, two friends' houses burned in two different cities, 2,000 miles apart from each other, causing inestimable losses of invaluable book collections and personal mementoes. Other friends were in car wrecks or discovered lumps and shadows in their brains and lungs. Of course, it's better to lose property than parts of the body, but why any of it, and why is it happening to people I know and care for? And what's with the plumbing? When I had an astrologer, he explained to me that star positions were to blame for everything from micro to macro events so that breaking your leg, for instance, was accompanied in the larger world by a bad but not huge earthquake, let's say. I liked better the theory of my prioperceptionist who insisted that one's focus is what uncovers these things. In other words, bad things happen all the time to everybody, but they are rarely in focus and only come in when they reach one's plumbing. If one was so inclined, one could focus on any near or far field at an unaccustomed range and find that collapse, ruin, despair and bad toilets are everywhere. I fired him. Did you ever fire a prioperceptionist? They don't go willingly. I've had other explicators in my employ in the past. A Jungian who saw the shadow of archetypes whenever reality got close. A Freudian... well, no, it wasn't really a Freudian, but a Freud Action Figure that was pretty funny when you put it next to the Marx Action Figure and then you set them loose on a Barbie. Things are not so bad until you confuse your advisors with your toys. They are bad. Only plumbers know the truth. Roofers know. Tilers have the answers.

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