I am standing forlornly in the doorway watching Dan the plumber drive off with my $72 service fee and nothing to show for it. I feel like a 2 volt motor hooked up to a 5,000 volt source. There is a solution, I know there is. One thing that Dan did suggest, go to Van Schmeer’s Plumbing Store and look for a better faucet. I call to arms.
“Husband, we must to Van Schmeer’s,” I cry. I look so wild that he doesn’t dare countermand me. We get in the car and drive to the showroom.
Van Schmeer’s is an overpriced plumbing store which specializes in foo-foo fixtures of the latest wheeze. They don’t sell “sinks”, they sell “vessels”. They don’t sell porcelain tubs, they sell Carrara marble, hand crafted, hand decorated, bla, bla, bla. We enter. There are chandeliers (!) hanging from the ceiling. The showroom is immense. A lady is sitting at a reception desk and gives us the fish eye (at this point I look like the Witch of Endor, and my husband looks like he desperately wants to get away).
“How may I help yoooo?” she coos. Thin smile.
“We are looking for a bathroom faucet,” I say trying to sound normal instead of homicidal. I realize I sound like I am growling, I try to tone it down.
“Mmmm, yessss. We have an associate who can attempt to assist you but I believe he is busy at the moment, I will escort you to Anne as she is free,” says the receptionist.
Anne is a very very very skinny woman of about sixty, dressed in exceptionally nice skirt and sweater and whose neck is wrapped in a wildly expensive Burberry cashmere scarf artfully draped to show off the fringe of it. She is also one of the most nervous people I have ever seen in public. She bites her lips, the inside of her mouth, her fingers. She is trying desperately to keep a grip on it, and she does know plumbing.
We talk, she steers the conversation into the hand held bidet area and then she really starts to probe about what I want. Of course they do have a wonderful bidet which is fully self contained and does everything. For the mere price of $5000 for the bidet and installation is, of course on us. Then there are extras we can add on and…
No, I don’t have room for it. Thanks, let’s talk bathroom faucets.
How about redoing my bathroom? That is an option, she could re-outfit the entire thing to the latest and greatest…
That’s not why I am here, honestly. I feel like I am fighting a giant squid. She gets the hint and decides we really need to talk to John, the resident specialist on all things about plumbing.
Somehow we are now in front of John. He is a monument to indifference. We do not want the Power Wash Bidet in custom gold leaf with the insta-dri package for only $49,000? We talk hand held bidets. Things get Very Complicated. I start to doubt my sanity. It feels like the back of my chair suddenly disappeared and I am falling backward through warped space/time.
John tells us that the hand held bidet (wretched thing that it is) will surely leak. It will certainly cause the floor to collapse eventually. Quelle horror! This is the same thing the plumber promised. John says that we should consider putting it in the shower, so that when it drips it will do so in the tub. Makes sense.
Where do we live? Hyde Park. John sits bolt upright. He fixes a beady eye on my husband. “We have found that shower walls in Hyde Park are reinforced with concrete and steel which make them virtually impossible to drill into! We could try to hang the hand held bidet there but getting hot water into it will be well neigh impossible if you have the concrete and steel that we usually find in situations like this…you would be wasting your money and our time if you attempted to cut into the shower wall under those circumstances.”
Great Caesars’ Ghost!!! Oh my! Ohhhh noooooo! We are doomed. DOOMED! The Man has spoken and we, who know nothing of plumbing are doomed. Alas!
John takes out a thick dark pencil and carefully writes out a series of part numbers for things we would need to continue such a foolhardy act. Again, he fixes my husband in a baleful stare. I am sure that John is wondering how my husband could be the poor dupe of a foolish and vain woman like me. He hands us the paper and then makes it clear that he has devoted all the time he intends to to our petty request.
Again, physics have bent. The map of the universe has shifted. The seeds of massive destruction lurk just behind the innocent looking tile of my shower! The very floor under my feet in the bathroom will give way unless excellent care is taken and large money spent at Van Schmeers.
We stagger out of the showroom. I feel like Adam and Eve belched from the Garden of Paradise.
We now see the subtle depths to which Hard Sell in “Upscale Retailers” has descended. Am I daunted? I have one last trick up my sleeve, and I am willing to play it! This grand diversion is brought to you by Possets Perfume, Bottled Happiness.