Barry Smith: Karma vs. clogs |

Barry Smith: Karma vs. clogs

At first it didn’t bother me to take a shower while standing in 2 inches of water. I was just grateful that I lived in a world where showers were possible.

But soon the 2 inches turned into 4 inches, then 6, then before I knew it, I’d find myself lower – shin deep in water before I was halfway through showering.

It wasn’t the water that was a problem – I mean, you’re in the shower, it’s not like you can get any wetter – it was the stuff floating in the water. Specifically, it was the fact that when I would step out of the tub, the floaty stuff would adhere to me.

And I think you know the “stuff” of which I speak. Without going into too much detail, this is the stuff which one gets into the shower specifically to wash OFF of oneself. And by this time, we’re talking about several weeks’ worth of this stuff. From several people. That’s a fair amount of stuff. Ugh. It’s just sitting there, waiting. Waiting for me to step out of the shower so it can cling to my legs and leave me looking like I’m wearing a pair of furry apres-ski boots. And I HATE those boots.

I try to be good to the Earth. I recycle, mostly. I compost, somewhat. I buy in bulk. I turn off appliances when they’re not in use. I use environmentally friendly dish-washing liquid, etc.

But I feared that in order to unclog the tub I would have to purchase, and subsequently use, some nasty-ass, highly toxic, carcinogenic, fish-killing substance that would set me way behind in eco-karmic points, and I’d have to eat a hell of a lot of eco-friendly tuna to catch up. Still, it was what had to be done, and I just hoped that Mother Earth would understand my need for clean shins.

So I went shopping.

Having never shopped for a drain de-clogger before, I held on to the fantasy that maybe an environmentally safe one existed. I tried to visualize it on the shelf, beckoning to me; a naturally pine scented, biodegradable substance that is soothing to the eyes. A happy, green, reusable bottle full of fish-nurturing, drain-clearing powder that can also be used to make protein smoothies.

I walked out of the store with a can of Red Devil Lye. On the front of the can, in print almost as large as the product name, were the words, “POISON! FATAL IF SWALLOWED OR MISUSED! CAUSES SEVER BURNS TO EYES AND SKIN! KILLS PETS AND CHILDREN ON CONTACT! DO NOT OPEN THIS CAN!”

I settled on Red Devil because the eco-friendly drain cleaner does not exist, and because it was substantially cheaper than Liquid Plum-R and Drano.

Once at home I read the directions: “Wear eye protection. Wear rubber gloves. If you have a welding mask, wear it. Place Red Devil Lye into your drain using a plastic spoon. Rinse the spoon after use, then discard. Discard the mask and gloves, too. After use, never set foot in your bathtub again. Discard the bathtub. Should contact with eyes or skin occur, discard eyes and skin.”

I spooned some Red Devil into the drain and ran, slamming the bathroom door behind me. Two days later, I ventured back into the bathroom, turned the water on … and the drain worked fine. Better than ever, even!

Now I sit in my kitchen, eating can after can of dolphin-safe tuna, trying not to focus on the fact that the kitchen sink isn’t draining as fast as it used to.

[Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is, and his very own Web page is at]

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