Naturally, I knew I was in big trouble the moment I saw how “easy” it was supposed to be to do this.

I knew there would be 19 very difficult steps as soon as I found out that there were “only 4 simple steps.”

I knew there was no way I could do it as soon as I read that “anyone can do it.”

Still, I figured I had to try to fix the toilet.

It had been running since last March. Sometimes it jogged slowly, dribbling all through the night. Other times, it sprinted feverishly, racing to a finish line that never came.

I could have called a plumber, of course, acknowledging that I myself didn’t know how to plumb. But that would be the home-repair coward’s way out.

Which, naturally, made it even more attractive.

Nevertheless, I decided to plumb ahead. I looked up “How to fix a running toilet.”

The problem, I was told, could be the float ball, the flapper, the overflow tube, the lift chain, the fill valve, that other piece that wasn’t the fill valve or the constellation of the planets.

I voted for number two, the flapper, because I once almost had a dog by that name and thought I could teach it how to flap better.

I went to the hardware store to buy a new flapper. There were many new flappers available. I could get the shark fin adjustable class 5 fluidmaster unhinged universal extra thick reinforced flapperless flapper. Or I could get the cheapest one, guaranteed for three weeks or until it broke down, whichever came first. I got the cheapest one.

The instructions on the packaging were straightforward, except, of course, they were written in Mandarin. Instead, I looked at the diagrams. They, too, were in Mandarin.

For three weeks, I studied Mandarin, but never got to the word for flapper. So I plumbed ahead anyway.

I disengaged the old flapper from the lift chain and connected the thigh bone to the float arm. I attached the overflow tube to the inner collar and suddenly, for the first time in three years, my stereo was working.

The toilet, though, was still running.

I undid the new flapper, changed the height of the float ball, reversed the direction of the handle arm, re-attached the new flapper and counted to 10 in Turkish.

I listened closely. The toilet wasn’t running. Not even jogging.

After my victory lap, I celebrated by looking around the house for other “easy” home-repair projects I could undertake. Fortunately, I couldn’t find any and decided to take a nap instead. That was going just fine until I was awakened by the sound of the toilet running.

I called the plumber.

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