Culture

Dear HEAVE: Advice on manners, social situations, and where that ottoman looks best in a circular room.

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Let’s face it, your mother was right: You have problems; you have so many, many problems. We have a website. By the Rules Of The Internet, we are qualified to fix your problems and offer advice.

Fire away!

Q: My faucet keeps running, and no matter what I do it refuses to stop dripping. I sleep next to the bathroom, and I can’t help but zero in on that sound. Please help! -John, Milwaukee

Oh god, don’t ask me – I don’t understand shit about domestic plumbing.* There was once a story-arc in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip in which Calvin, intent on fixing a leak in the bathroom, removes the faucet to the sink and floods the entire room. When his father finally shuts off the water and finds Calvin, he tells him “It’s the end of the world.” That’s largely how I feel about problems with leaky sinks or clogged pipes: I just assume it’s time to burn the house down, collect the insurance money, and rebuild from scratch. But I’m here to help, so let list my thoughts and reactions to your question, in the order they came to me:

1. Call your landlord. This is exactly the type of situation that most landlords are required by law to fix.
2. Call Mike Holmes. This is exactly the type of situation this saint of a man can make better.
3.”My Faucet keeps running, and no matter what I do it refuses to stop dripping” is the kind of oddly suggestive metaphor that pharmaceutical companies use when they advertise medicine for older men with bladder or prostate issues. Like this one, in which a man’s need to frequently urinate is imagined as a dystopian hellscape in which an embodied letter “P” constantly pesters him to use the bathroom:

4. You’ll need a wrench, two screwdrivers, a towel, and some pipe compound (which is cheaply obtained at any hardware store). Turn off the water before you do any work. Once the water is off, remove the faucet head, and place the faucet and any loose parts on a towel you have laid at the bottom of the sink. The towel will prevent anything from slipping down the drain. In all likelihood, the leak is coming from one of the valves that control the hot or cold water. Remove each valve, and make sure that all screws are firmly in place. Then take some of your pipe compound, and seal the base of the screws, which will give you a watertight seal. If your faucet continues to leak, you may need to remove the entire faucet fixture, and seal any screws within the fixture itself. When removing any parts, be careful not to scratch or scuff the finishings, because your landlord might charge you for any damage once you move out.

*Because I know so much about corporate plumbing?

A friend of mine is breaking up with her boyfriend of almost 4 years. Luckily this is happening right around the time that their lease is ending. Most of their stuff together is hers, including their television. All he has is a bed and a Playstation 3. Is it ok to tell him “Sorry bud” and take all of her stuff with her in the move, or should she throw him a bone and give him some of their stuff? -Amy, Chicago.

I’m sorry to hear about their impending break-up. I think the question of whether to cut the soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend some slack on furniture and home goods is tied to the kind of break-up they are experiencing. Obviously, the end of a relationship is neither fun nor easy, but some people handle it with more maturity and foresight than others. If this is the kind of split where your friend and her former partner are constantly fighting — screams, accusations, tears and an overwhelming amount of bitterness — then the best course is simply to cut ties completely, including between him and the couch. It will probably encourage more resentment in the short term, but it will also discourage future contact, and won’t send the mixed message that your friend still harbors feelings for her ex. Unhealthy relationships are best ended completely. If the tone of the break-up is more subdued, though — say, they both realize it is time to move on, and are resigned to do so in a mature way — then I think it is a nice gesture to help her former partner get started with some furniture. It will get the post-relationship relationship off to a good start, and encourage polite interaction if your friend and her ex meet up in social function in the future.

For what it’s worth, I could easily live with just a bed and a Playstation 3. You get a TV, some Marie Callender’s chicken pot pies, resign yourself to not having sex for at least a month, and you’re living the fucking dream.

How do I use a stovetop Espresso maker? -Beau, Chicago.

This process involves a few steps: 1. Grab your shoes and keys. 2. Go outside. 3. Walk or drive to your nearest corner coffee shop and order an espresso. 4. Stop being an asshole.

I have a co-worker that I have been dating for a few weeks. Nothing serious so far, just drinks on the weekends and one casual dinner. He is smart, talented at work, and I think very attractive. He also has a prosthetic leg, which he has used for as long as I have known him at work. I couldn’t care less about his leg, but I am enjoying the time we have spent together, and I would like to think about becoming more serious. But I am nervous about sex with my date. I want to be respectful, and ask him if there are any accommodations that need to be made, or if there is anything he won’t be able to do. I just want to make it a good experience. But I am worried that he will either be insulted, or start to feel pressure if he thinks I am concerned about his performance. How do I bring this up? What should I say? – Alison, Chicago.

One of the real challenges of being disabled is that we rarely find movies, television shows or books in which a disabled person is in a normal, healthy relationship that includes sex and attraction, and so we are socially conditioned to see the disabled as sexually dysfunctional or awkward. I don’t believe you have that perspective, but I also don’t think that you need to be nervous about what should be a fun time for you both. That said, you have a right to go into any sexual encounter with reasonable expectations for what the experience will be like, and your desire to make this particular experience comfortable for everyone involved is great. Remember that your partner has had to answer questions about his prosthesis for as long as he has used it, and he is probably more comfortable answering these questions than you are asking them. Phrase it in an open-ended way that suggests not a concern for his performance, but a desire for the best sex possible: “I’m really excited to be here with you. What should we do?” All sex, regardless of disability, involves communication. So just think of this as an opportunity to open new lines of intimacy with someone you are growing to care about.

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