Oops I did it again

I lost the lint condom down the drain pipe behind the washing machine.

I loathe the lint condom. The product’s real name is “Washing Machine Lint Trap” but it’ll always be the lint condom to me. The directions read something like, “slide the open end of the lint trap over the discharge hose and, gently holding it between thumb and forefinger, unroll the wire mesh down the length of the hose…”

I understand it’s purpose: to catch lint and debris from the wash that would otherwise clog the plumbing. But I don’t know why we have this stupid thing. I’m not blaming it totally on farm life and our septic tank, but lemmie put it this way: we never needed one when we lived in spitting distance of a 7-11.

Then again, what do I know? I hadn’t the foggiest clue that some kitchen sinks don’t have garbage disposals until I yanked that metal thingey out of ours and stuffed a fist full of corn husks down the drain. But that’s another story.

You are supposed to remove the lint condom before it reaches full capacity, but there is no warning when time’s up. Only the sound that you are too late. Usually I’m dozing on the couch, dreaming of a babbling brook or water cascading down a rock face… when I snap awake and bolt down the stairs. I slap a hand over the washing machine button, which stops the gushing waterfall, but it’s too late. A stream flows along the slanted floor of our settled house. Rivulets of water whisk dust bunnies and dead bugs across the cellar until they pool out of sight beneath cabinets and shelves. I curse, dump towels on the floor to stem the stream, and stomp back upstairs.

Back in the olden days, our condom sheathed a laundry hose which dumped unceremoniously into a rickety sink. But when we gussied-up the cellar, the contractor concealed the laundry pipe within the wall. At the time, this seemed like an aesthetically-pleasing stroke of genius. But we didn’t account for condom slippage.

The first incident was alcohol induced. Martin and I were kid-free and drinking & watching movies one evening, when I decided to start a load of laundry (yea we live it up). Discarding the used lint condom, I held the new one suspended over the drain pipe, when — zoom! — down the drain in the wall it went.

Fortunately Martin was also buzzed and not too mad about spending that evening fishing down a 2-inch pipe with a wire hanger. By some miracle, he hooked the lint trap and pulled it out.

This time, I don’t know what happened. I just heard that all too-familiar sound of a river running through it. I slammed the machine off and extracted the end of the hose to discover, not a lint-filled condom, but no condom at all.

I don’t know how or why it fell off, but this time Martin cursed. A lot. He threatened to cut through the wall, sever the pipe, summon a plumber… when in his last ditch effort, he blindly snagged the thing, again thanks to a bent wire hanger.


In the future we need to rig a fail-safe method to prevent the condoms from disappearing into the wall. Meanwhile, I’ve decided to channel a redneck version of Mommie Dearest, one who embraces the utilitarian wire hangers in her closet, and declares: NO MORE PLASTIC HANGERS!