Penkava: Newtonian laws of the bathroom universe

It all started with my wife’s innocent bathtub observation.

“Michael, I think the drain is really slow.”

“Oh Honey, it’s just your imagination. Or possibly there’s a temporary disturbance in the Coriolis force between the velocity of the water and the angular velocity of the Earth.”

She rolled her eyes and mumbled something about the Coriolis force of my brain as she walked away.

Not long afterward, it was brought to my attention that the bathroom sink drain also was slow. Again, I spun the explanation that the Coriolis effect was the culprit.

But then I was summoned to the bathtub to explain away yet another aqua phenomena.
It seemed that when you stepped around in the bathtub, there was a squishy sound, like water being squeezed between two surfaces.

“Oh, it’s that pesky Coriolis thing again. This time it’s affecting the water trapped between the original tub and the liner that was placed over it. I think it’s a seasonal thing related to the angle of incidence being equal to the angle of reflection.”

“Michael, does that also explain the dripping shower head, the corroded pipes and the loose tile?”

“Oh, that’s probably Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics that says it is the natural tendency of any system to degenerate into a more disordered state. It’s called ‘entropy.’ It’s pretty much happening all over then universe, including our bathroom. You can’t change it, Honey. It’s the law.”

“Well, have you heard of the Home Depot’s ‘First Law of Bathroom Remodeling?’ It says, ‘You Can Do It; We Can Help.’ ”

I had been holding off my trump card, citing the Law of Perpetual Transmutation of Energy, which would explain why the energy I would invest in a bathroom remodel would result in less energy to express my infinite love for her.

I decided not to play that card, holding it in reserve for if she again decides to try to teach me how to do the laundry.

I had a plumber friend of mine come over and evaluate the damage. Sadly, all the 100-plus year-old piping needed to be replaced. He could do that, but I’d be responsible for the tear out and the eventual wall repair, floor and tile and fixture installation, as well as the countless other details that would qualify me for my own home improvement show, “As You Wish,” a delightfully romantic journey through home décor adventures, as a loving husband complies with every decorative request of his princess bride.

So here I am, tool belt on my hip, trowel in my hand, mastic glue plastered all over my body, in the thick of our bathroom remodel.

But it is with love that I pick up the next piece of tile. It is with yearning that I measure it. It is with devotion that I cut it on the wet saw. It is with passion that I scream in pain as a ceramic sliver pierces my finger. And it is with profound ardency that I pick up the bloody tile and press it into place.

For despite the Newtonian laws of the bathroom universe, I lovingly plunge myself into this project. At least until my wife desperately asks me to stop and have someone else finish the project.

As you wish.

• Michael Penkava taught a bunch of kids and wrote a bunch of stuff. He has not yet been fired from the bathroom job, but he is nailing trim dangerously close to a pipe in the wall. He can be reached at

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