Every writer has a time where they are struggling for something to write about. I think Dave Barry once said something about smoking a lot in the hopes that he would catch the house on fire and have something to write about. Well I was going nuts when the universe sent me Instant Snow.
Actually my father in law from Wisconsin brought the snow to us. When we visited last xmas, our son loved spending time with Papa shoveling the driveway, making snowmen, etc., so Papa brought along instant snow as a gift when he visited this week. He had the best of intentions, as I’m sure the fine folks who make this crap do. There is one small thing that they left off the package: A giant safety orange warning to keep it miles away from any plumbing.
The stuff is made of powdered silica, which is basically the stuff in those little packets that say “don’t eat me” that you find in your shoes and beef jerky. It comes in a bag that looks like movie prop cocaine. You mix it with water and voila…heaping mounds of room temperature snow. They use it in movies, theater stuff etc. As soon as it hits water it expands by 60% it’s original size…per grain. A little goes a long way would be an understatement. Remember that old Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian cartoon with the instant Martian “Just Add Water” joke? Run for the hills folks.
So I mixed up a bowl of this magical stuff and let the kids play with it in a baking sheet. It’s a little messy so I have the bright idea that hey, they can play with it in the bathtub and it won’t make a mess. F*ck my clever brain. So the kids get done playing with it and I simply hose it down the drain. Clean up’s a snap, right? There’s a little left in the bowl so I rinse it out in the sink. That was yesterday. Today he wanted to play with the snow again so we whipped up another batch. Once again he played in the bathtub. Thankfully his inner hoarder kicked in and he demanded we keep the snow. He scooped it up into a bowl with all the attention he could muster. I owe him a trip to Disneyland or something.
Late tonight, my wife mentions that the sink in the bathroom won’t drain. “I wonder if it’s the snow,” she says in an offhand way. I’m exhausted and I’m sick, but I know this is one of those things that requires my immediate attention. I go on the website for the company that makes it and under the FAQ section is the line, “Instant Snow should never be poured down a drain as it will slow it.” Slow it? Like how spike strips slow a car chase in Los Angeles?
“Oh shit,” I think. I’m picturing the huge, fluffy pile of snow that slipped so easily down the bathroom drain. “Well there must be an easy way to dissolve it or there would be a large warning on the package,” I tell myself. Nope. Because it’s made of silica, it’s damn near indestructible. Turns out, you can even dry it out and reuse it indefinitely. This is a selling point, apparently. If it dries out, you just mist it and presto that stuff puffs back up as good as new… Did I mention IT IS IN MY PLUMBING? I can hear the pipes moaning like a little girl with a skinned knee. No, wait, that’s me. I take off the drain trap under the bathroom sink and white fluff spews out like I had a Slurpee machine trapped in my pipes. I had to snake out tons of this slushy mess until I’d gotten enough out that hopefully the remainder is actually headed out to sea.
Keep in mind this is in the sink. That last bit of snow from the bowl I rinsed out after super fun snow playtime. The bulk of it went down the bathtub drain. I’ve locked the door to the bathroom, but I can’t help think that’s not solving the problem. In a long term sense, I mean.
To Be Continued, I’m sure, and thank god we rent!