Dozing under a gently swaying palm tree, on a luxurious lounge chair, baking in the warm island sun, listening to the crashing music of the waves … Pop! Ah, champagne. George must have ordered it while I was napping. What a guy. Wait. Is there a waterfall nearby? I hear rushing water. And why am I wearing flannel pajamas on the beach?

Huh? I sit up in bed and realize that the lovely sound of the “waterfall” is coming from the bathroom that is located less than 3 feet from our bed. I throw the covers off, jump up out of bed and promptly land in several inches of ice-cold water. Sans glasses (and coffee), I turn on the bathroom light and see that there is water gushing out around the toilet. I fall to my knees in the cold water and tried to shut the valve off under the toilet. It’s a no-go. By this time, I am shivering and mewling a little. In retrospect, I should have plunged my face in the water to wake up.

Still making that strange moaning sound (and maybe cursing a little), I run down the hall into the main bathroom and grab towels. I skid back to the bedroom and throw the towels on the floor. All this time, Mojo is running up and down the hall howling like a crazed banshee.

I grab the phone, call George at work, and when he answers, I scream, “George, you have to come home now.”

He yells, “Why? What’s wrong?”

I babble, “There’s water pouring out of the back bathroom toilet.” Apparently I have continued doing that odd moaning sound (I think it was coffee withdrawal).

He yells, “Turn the main water valve off!”

I yell, “Where the ^%&* is THAT?” I run down the hall again and skid in a small puddle on the living room floor. (Turns out Mojo was howling because he had to go outside, but what’s a little more water on the floor, after all?) I locate the valve and turn it off.

I don’t remember hanging up the phone. I run back into the bathroom and fold our area rug away from the water. I slosh into the bathroom and lean over the toilet. The toilet tank had cracked. A huge crack splintered across the entire back of the tank. Belatedly, I stick a pot under the tank. This action is equivalent to slamming your brakes on after you run the red light. George runs in and surveys the situation. Our bedroom rug is soaked on one side, I am dripping wet, and almost every towel that we own is lying drenched on the tiny bathroom floor. Mojo is cowering under an end table.

I go into the main bathroom and again, step in about an inch of water. Seems that the water from the little bathroom rushed through the wall and into this bathroom. Sweet. So I grab more towels and throw them down on the floor. A positive note: I am now fully awake.

Fast-forward two hours later. The plumber is installing our new toilet. The old one turned out to have been 60 years old. It was older than me. No wonder it cracked. I cracked at around age 35; this toilet held it together for 25 more years than I did!

As luck would have it, the new toilet does not bolt properly to the floor. OF COURSE IT DOESN’T. It’s the Black house, after all. Two more plumbers show up and among them, they get the new one in place and working properly. Several hundred unplanned dollars later, we have a brand spanking new toilet.

Let me also add that our washing machine died on us the week before. In the middle of a huge load of clothes, it began making a grinding sound that could be heard next door. New washer, again not in the budget.

So, we eat pasta and hot dogs for a few weeks till we catch up. One good thing is, the back bathroom floor has never been cleaner. And I got to buy a new area rug for the bedroom. Laying that baby down is a whole other column.