Is That Rain?

Last week, I rode the elevator in our building with two other tenants, who live on the floor above my girlfriend and me. Their apartment had recently suffered some severe damage because the person in the apartment above theirs left his tub running, meaning the water overflowed and rushed into their unit. Walls were ruined, switches and outlets had shorted out, and at least one mouse was flushed out of their walls (resulting in a high-pitched scream to the super, “Manny, help! A mouse!”). I felt bad for these guys, but I was equally glad it wasn’t me. Well, not equally, but I really did feel bad for them.

Of course, karma being what it is, we experienced our own gravity- and water-related issue last night. Around seven, the cat bolted from the living room to the bathroom at precisely the same moment we heard a strange trickling sound. When we got to the bathroom, we noticed a steady stream of water dripping from the middle of our bathroom ceiling. I immediately called the super while girlfriend went to grab our mop bucket. Our super, who is actually really helpful, was up almost immediately. He took one look at the stream, shook his head, and excused himself to check something out.

I should mention at this point that there is some extensive renovation going on in the apartment above ours. I haven’t seen it, but based on noise at 8am, I’m guessing they’re installing a heavy manufacturing plant. During this installation, they apparently did some damage to the old water pipes as they were laying new plumbing for the remodeled industrial bathroom, and the result was a small crack at a junction with some possible damage to a main line. The super turned off the water to the apartment and told us it should be fine.

We thanked him and returned to watching Bones on Netflix. At about 9, we heard what sounded like the same trickle. There was water coming from the same spot on the ceiling, but the stream had amped itself up like A-Rod after a trip to Miami. Not only was there more volume, but there were more spots leaking water, coming from the corners of the ceiling, down the wall with the light switch, and pouring down the outside of the radiator pipe. Manny appeared again after another call, and decided to shut off the cold water main to our entire section of the building. Eventually the water did stop, although not before we emptied around 10 gallons into the bathtub. The upshot? The water would have to remain off until the pipe got fixed when the reno crew got back to work in the morning.

photo photo (1)

Manny did tell us that their first order of business after fixing the plumbing was repairing our bathroom. As of this writing, our water is back on, but the crew has not been down to fix the bathroom. It’s not necessarily a huge deal, especially since we can once again flush our toilet, but it does smell kind of funky, and we have several spots where the drywall looks like it melted, plus one big, uncomfortably anatomically-shaped hole from the main leak. All in all, it could have been worse—much worse. We moved all our belongings that could have been damaged, including an emergency disassembly of our hutch over the toilet. We had enough towels to stop the flow from seeping into the rest of the apartment. Best of all, we didn’t flush out mice or any other vermin. I’m not sure girlfriend would have been able to look at me the same after hearing me scream “Manny, help! A mouse!”

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Super Bowl XLVII

I hope you all don’t mind if I take a few moments to talk about football. If you know me at all, you know that I am a Cleveland sports fan, especially the Browns. In case you don’t know, this particular brand of fandom comes with a mandatory degree of disillusionment and frustration, kind of a baseline sadness whenever someone mentions your team. A typical exchange:

Some guy: “Did you hear about the Browns?”

Me: “What did they do now?”

Some guy: “They signed/cut/drafted player X”

Me: (Staring at the floor) “I need another beer.”

I could recite the typical litany of woes (The Drive, The Fumble, The Move, Bottlegate, etc.), but it’s so much more than the sum of all the pieces. It’s an ingrained pessimism born of historical sports achievements seen through almost fifty years of failure interspersed with occasional, heartbreaking close calls.

One of the more frustrating moments in recent history, however, is perhaps set for this coming weekend. The Baltimore Ravens (formerly Cleveland Browns) are headed to the Super Bowl, their second since leaving Cleveland. Ray Lewis, a player against whom I will say nothing specific so I don’t get stabbed, is going to retire at the height of football fame. And two individual associated with the Ravens will possibly be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Jonathan Ogden and Art Modell. Of Jonathan Ogden, I have no real complaints. Yes, he played for Baltimore, but he was an excellent player, and I have no strong objections.

Modell is another story. He’s the guy who orchestrated the move to Baltimore. That alone is enough for me. But there are other opinions. The Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck argues that Cleveland fans should stop their whining, and just let go of the fact that he took the Browns. However, he suggests that Modell left the Browns name and colors as a gesture of goodwill, rather than as part of a legal settlement. He also urges Browns fans to look beyond their own selfish interests and look at the good of the league, an argument I’m sure worked for Baltimore fans when the Colts were spirited out of town.

While Terry Pluto’s article lays out good reasons why Modell should not be let into the Hall of Fame, for me it’s all about the smell test. If it smells wrong, it’s probably wrong. But being a Browns fan, I have to believe that he will get in, along with Ogden, and Sunday’s game will be an Art Modell love fest, with Ray Lewis wearing Art Modell’s face on a t-shirt under his jersey, which he will reveal while holding the Lombardi trophy. Heck, he might even let t-shirt Modell kiss the darn thing. I don’t want this to happen, you understand. I just know it will, because Browns fans have that innate fatalism, that keen sense that events will unfold in the way most painfully embarrassing to Cleveland. I mean, did you see the LeBron thing?

In some ways, I hate being a Browns fan. It’s hard to be so frustrated at your team all the time, and to have other people make fun of your devotion. And yet we can’t seem to let go. My buddy Mike and I, for all our complaining, still watch every move the team makes, still complain about every decision handed down, and still drink heavily on game days. There’s commiseration in that devoted hopelessness, mixed with the terror that as soon as we stop caring, they’re going to win the whole damn thing.