Monday, May 07, 2018

COLUMN: Bathtub

(Note: NOT my actual bathtub. LOL.)

One of the problems with writing a column every week is that with one wrong turn, you can reveal TMI -- Too Much Information. Sometimes it's easy to give away details about your personal life that nobody needs or wants to hear. This week's column might just qualify as TMI, because honestly, it's kind of gross.

But I've got a problem, Quad Cities, and I need your help. Unfortunately, it's also kind of a disgusting problem, so apologies all around if you didn't pick up your Monday paper expecting to read about my bathroom. Trust me, though -- two months ago, I wasn't expecting to WRITE about my bathroom. But I promise, no bodily functions are involved. It's not THAT gross.

I've never made a huge secret of the fact that I'm not exactly the tidiest of humans. My house is very likely messier than yours. I will guarantee it has more cat hairs than yours. Spic and span are two words NOT often found in my vocabulary.

That said, I try not to let things ever get out of control. I think I'm somewhere around the standard of single-guy messiness. I know the difference between messy and filthy, and I try never to cross that line. Yes, when you come over to my place, there will be junk out and you may have to scoot aside some papers, boxes, or 1-2 cats to make room on the couch. But I don't let things ever get truly dirty. It's probably the only GOOD thing about being a hypochondriac -- I can live in mess, but not in filth. If things start getting bad, I won't hesitate to get out the bleach and scrub-a-dub-dub.

But two months ago, a first for me happened since moving into this house some five years ago. I was in the shower when I suddenly realized I was ankle deep in standing water. Nope, I hadn't accidentally kicked the stopper on. My tub was simply not draining. When the water finally DID work its way out, I discovered the culprit -- there, atop my drain, was a thin layer of... what can only be described as "ick." Like a gross slimy grey film of nastiness that was blocking the drain.

I steadied the gag reflex, grabbed a rag and some bleach, and cleaned it right up and the tub drained fine... for 2 days. Then the tiny layer of ick was back and once again clogging my drain. This time, I attacked with some drain cleaner, which decimated the stuff... for 4 days. Then it came back AGAIN. I've been playing this disgusting game for two months now, and I have yet to figure what this congealing gross goo is. The way I see it, there's only a few possible answers:

(1) I am somehow emitting a sticky grey filmy substance while showering and should probably seek immediate medical attention. While I'm pretty sure this is NOT the case, it's interesting to note this was my first general worry, as if it were perfectly natural for a person to start randomly molting grey slime. I am not the sort of person to leave my house unshowered, let alone dripping with any kind of grey discharge, plus no one (not even friends) has pointed at me and gone "Eww!" since about junior high. I'm thinking I'm safe.

(2) Some kind of ghost, monster, and/or ectoplasm-covered stranger has been sneaking into my house and using my shower while I'm not looking. This may be a horrifying prospect, but I would still greatly prefer it to (1) above. Plus, I enjoy ghost hunting shows and I think I'd be cool sharing my living space with a spirit whose only unfinished business is simply taking repetitive showers.

(3) Could some kind of soap or cleanser be to blame? Odds are slim. I'm a creature of habit and I've been using the same bathtime products since I moved in here. Either it takes half a decade for my body wash to turn grey and filmy or I'm barking up the wrong tree. Plus, I really DO clean my tub on a regular basis, so I'm not casting the blame on a build-up of Garnier Fructis. I've even been using the same tub cleaner since I moved in.

(4) A believable culprit COULD be Rock Island's water supply. I love my town, I really do, but let's get real here: Rock Island water comes out of the tap grey. If you pour it into a clear glass, it's still grey five minutes later. I'm sure it's legally fine, but you still won't ever catch me drinking or even cooking with the stuff.

(5) Perhaps whatever's coating the top of my drain is actually coming UP from the drain itself. It HAS been a rather wet season, so I could see the potential for some kind of stomach-turning septic backup situation. But if this were the case, wouldn't it be happening to ALL my drains? Not even the sump in my basement looks to have taken on any water, and the only drain seemingly affected by this toxic muck is my bathtub. And it's only a very tiny layer that never seems to leave the drain guard itself.

So I remain perplexed. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what the heck did you do about it? "Call a plumber" isn't a fun answer because I'm cheap. "Call my dad" would likely result in the problem getting solved, but I could also easily see myself coming home from work to my bathroom in about 184 pieces before hearing my dad's "a-ha!" of triumph. I would greatly prefer my usual solution of pouring something super toxic somewhere and hoping for the best.

I open the floor to your advice. E-mail me if you have any guesses as to what I should do to combat the Weird Filmy Scourge of 2018. Bonus points if you're an exorcist, shaman, or hobbyist plumber. If you need me, I'll be in corner checking myself for grey slime and waiting for my heebies to progress into jeebies.

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