The closest thing I have to a sex life lately happens in my shower. Don't get high expectations. I'm not having fun; it's just that I've been howling a lot in there these days, and recently, while I was howling ("Ooooh! Ahhhh! Oh my GOD!" Shudder, shudder), I realized that if someone came to the door right then they'd think I was busy having hot buffalo sex, when actually what I'm having is the opposite of hot. What I'm having is, in fact, cold: freezing cold showers compliments of Whirlpool, not to mention Lowe's, the hardware hangar that sits like an al-Qaeda compound on the outskirts of my neighborhood. It has been a week now since I've had hot water in my home.
Not that I don't have a brand new hot-water heater, of course I've got one of those. I got it after my old one stopped bothering to heat water past lukewarm level, and I figure if you're gonna have a hot-water heater, it's not unreasonable to expect better than lukewarm. It wasn't even the first one I bought at Lowe's that day. See, I'm picky, because the first hot-water heater I bought at Lowe's that day, once I got it out of the box, revealed a big dent in the top. But "dent" doesn't really describe it accurately. "Kind of crushed" would be more accurate, as though it had landed on its head after being pushed out of a helicopter at a fairly high altitude. So, preferring something that didn't look like it had been bombed in exchange for the brand-new dollars I spent for it, I put it back in the back of my car.
I would like to point out here that a hot-water heater is an actual appliance, exactly like how a refrigerator or a stove is an appliance, and it is just as big if not bigger than these things. I thought about calling one of my truck-owning friends to help, but I'm too beholden to them after my last unhitched-trailer-rolling-down-the-highway-and-landing-in-an-irrigation-ditch disaster to hope for any of them to rally to my side again so soon afterward. So I did it my own damn self, pretty much, marveling at how adept I've become at shoving big-ass things into the back of my car. The other day, for example, Daniel and I picked up a 6-foot utility cabinet off the side of the road and put it into the back of my car. Daniel didn't think it would fit, and he was right, but half of it did, thus enabling me to secure the other half with the passel of bungee cords I keep on hand for just such occasions. Bungee cords, by the way, do not work as an alternative to an operating trailer hitch.
But the fact that I am adept at shoving big-ass things into the back of my car does not mean I enjoy lugging around brand new hot-water heaters. I don't even like to buy brand new hot-water heaters, let alone two in one goddamn day. If it were left to my regular philosophy, I would've tracked down a used one on Craigslist, but I have bought used appliances before, and the fact is they pretty much only work half as well.
As opposed to new appliances bought at Lowe's, which evidently don't work at all. Because after I hauled the one with the crap dented out of it back to Lowe's — where the guy at the return counter was pleasant though not apologetic at all, or even impressed that I lugged that hot-water heater home and back my own damn self — I bought another one, dragged its rotund ass out to my car and back home.
This time, though, before I bought it I did a visual check to make sure it didn't have its head bashed in like the last one. Sadly, that is about the only pretest measure you can make when it comes to hot-water heaters. The next test is to pay $450 to have it installed, a process that requires hacksaws, cement and soldering irons, then after it's installed you turn it on, run your hot water and, like, I dunno, expect it to work.
My problem, I guess, is that my expectations are too high. For one, I at least used to have lukewarm water that came from a rusty old water heater, but that wasn't good enough. So now I have freezing cold water that comes from a shiny new water heater, and when I call the number on the owner's manual, it's answered by someone living in India, and I feel bad complaining about my lack of hot water when I once worked a flight back from Bombay during which I heard a passenger complain about having to "step over the corpses in the gutter." The person in India tells me it will be next Monday before they can dispatch a "technician" to assess my problem. I would have expected something sooner, but by now my expectations have hit rock bottom, and there is nothing else for me to do but go back into the shower and howl.
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (hollisgillespie.com).