Like all men, ages 0-100, my youngest son is amazed by the magic and mystery that is the inner workings of the household toilet. Let’s face it, the thing is amazing.

The moment the bathroom door is opened he comes running like a cat to a can-opener. Heaven forbid I should shut the door. He’ll knock until his knuckles are bloody (haven’t actually tested this). By the way, his grandparents are Jehovah’s Witness. I secretly think that his penchant for tenacious knocking makes them satisfied and proud.

When he does have a moment of alone time with the toilet, and I literally mean “moment”, as in less than 2 seconds, he likes to test the buoyancy of various reachable items.


Today he tested Tinker Toys.

The piece picked for this occasion was about 6 inches long, slender and green, roughly the size of a thick straw. It was made of wood. Therefore, it floated.

It floated in a toilet recently vacated by our hero’s older brother. An unflushed and very used toilet.

There was no way in hell I was putting my hand in there for a stick.

I considered the situation and decided to go with the bathtub theory: if an object is bigger than the drain, then it is reasonable to assume that said object will not go down said drain. Release water safely.

I flushed. The water went down. The kids my son dropped off at the pool went down. I reached for the Tinker Toy in my moment of well-calculated triumph, and as I did, it too went down.


My moment was gone, and in it’s place stood a brief taste of the thrill that is flushing the unflushable. It was near Nirvana, like Foo Fighters close. It was a moment of shared awe and silence as I stood with my two boys and admired what we, together, had achieved.

Then the water came back. A few of the kids returned. The bowl started to fill with all the wonder you could hope to find in a backed-up toilet. Everything came home but the thing we missed the most. There was no stick.

Enter the plunger. Cue the splash of shit water into my open mouth. Vomit, get on deck.

Unlike the family dog, I am not accustomed to beginning my quest for thirst quenching at the toilet’s edge. Rather, that is where I prefer to end my journeys. Needless to say, a mouthful of toilet water is not as satisfying as Rover would have us believe.

I pushed forward and plunged like the wind, bringing back memories and things long buried and forgotten. The Tinker Toy is no more.

Alas, poor stick, I knew him well.