A few weeks ago I noticed the red lacquered chopstick we keep on the kitchen counter near the French press was missing. It was usually found either on the dish drainer or resting in the press waiting to stir coffee grounds the next morning. Yet somehow it had vanished. We have several multitaskers of this sort in the Everything Else drawer that could serve the same purpose, but I wanted to know what happened to that chopstick.
Several days later, a flash of red in the drain caught my eye. Upon further inspection, I realized I was looking down the drain at the head of the chopstick. Oh, you saucy redhead! How did you get into that predicament? This case was baffling. I suspected that sometime during the night the chopstick got up the volition to leap up off the counter into the air, and after completing a toe-first dive through one of the six peensy openings in the strainer body, it now rested in the drainpipe at the curve of the P-trap. We’ll never know exactly how it happened, but there it was, trapped with no means of escape, and not on the disposal side of the sink. Oh no, that would have been too easy.
So, how to resolve this?
Solution #1: Call a plumber to disassemble the pipes and remove the chopstick. Ha, ha, ha. Don’t be ridiculous.
Solution #2: Buy long, skinny industrial tweezers and try to grab the head of the chopstick and hope it all fits in the drain hole.
Solution #3: Don’t look at it anymore and pretend it didn’t happen. There are three identical chopsticks in the drawer–just dig out a new one. No one will know and if they do see it, will think that red thing is just a piece of pimento.
Solution #4: Sell the house and move. So tempting…
While most people would have chosen Solution #3 (or #4 if they live in Illinois like we do), that would be my tell-tale heart: I would always know it was there, calling to me. I could not resist looking at it every day. I feared I might someday shriek in the face of a prospective homebuyer, “Get out! Get out now! There’s a chopstick in the sink!” Okay, maybe not, but I also don’t want people to think I’m a slacker who leaves pieces of pimento stuck in the drain. I had to search my Mind
Palace She-Shack for another way.
There it was, amid all the brain lint: The Little LuLu Solution. Like most kids in the 60s, I had comic books: Richie Rich, Barbie, I Love Lucy, Classics Illustrated. (How do you think I got through The House of Seven Gables in seventh grade?) And then there was plucky, resourceful Little LuLu.
I recalled a story where LuLu had lost a precious quarter down a drainage grate. She borrowed a piece of bubblegum, chewed it up and tied it to the end of a string, which she lowered down through the grate and onto the quarter. The quarter stuck to the gum, and she successfully pulled it back up. Genius!
Knowing I needed something much stronger than bubblegum and string, I used a glue gun to place a glob of molten plastic on the tip of a kabob skewer, working quickly to get the head of the chopstick to adhere before the glue hardened. It took several attempts and barrage of colorful words to wrangle a slippery mini-flashlight with one hand while quickly lowering the skewer past the gatekeeper with the other, dab the chopstick and oh-so-slowly pull it up out of the hole without knocking if off the skewer. But eventually it did work. What a team! Captain Glue Gun, his trusty sidekick Skewer, Little LuLu, and me.
Moral(s) of the story:
#1: Search your Mind Palace and your junk drawer for ordinary things with which you can MacGyver out of extraordinary problems. Don’t call the plumber for stuff like this. You can do it.
#2: Keep the strainer basket in the sink at all times, especially at night when kitchen items try to commit desperate acts of escape.
#3: Never discount the wisdom of comic books.