I married into this fine industry. As the wife of a plumber, I enjoy a certain lifestyle that women who didn't marry a plumber can't even imagine. Now, certainly there are husbands of plumbers who could relate to this list, and even add to it. But as a member of the Plumbers' Wives Club, I dedicate this one to the wives.

You know you're a plumber's wife if ...

    ... every year you rush through opening the Christmas presents, hoping to finish before the first clogged toilet or over-loaded disposal call comes in.

    ... you agree to wait in the truck at 7 p.m. while he stops in to quickly check on Mrs. Fernwickey's water heater.

    ... you wait until 9:30 p.m., when he comes back to the truck to ask you to run back to the shop for a thermocouple.

    ... you don't get jealous when he says he is going out for some nipples.

    ... he is a man of few words, unless he is asked his opinion on primary-secondary piping.

    ... you receive amazingly creative presents for all gift-giving occasions: a wind chime made from quarter-inch steel; a sculpture welded from scrap copper; a concrete radiator in the shape of a dog.

    ... you love those gifts more than anything you could find in a store.

    ... you run your hand down his back, and his spine feels like a relief map of the Rocky Mountains. The wife of a plumber has a husband with a compromised back.

    ... a broken anything is never cause for worry, because he can fix anything. Even if he says he can't, what he really means is that he doesn't want to. Because he really can fix anything.

    ... you've ever watched him violently destroy a defective indirect tank with his bare hands, or maybe a shotgun. Nothing incites more anger than a poorly-made OEM part.

    ... you've allowed your newborn to go on a service call in a Snuglie.

    ... he knows deep, dark secrets about everyone in town - from the mayor to the movie star. After all, he's been in their basement.

    ... he never tells.

    ... you leave him alone for an hour, and return to find a 2-ton boiler fully installed and mounted from the ceiling. When you ask how he did it, he responds, "You can learn a lot from the Egyptians."

    ... you've been offered a spoonful of Bio-clean with the encouraging words, "Go on, Honey, eat it. It's safe, really!"

    ... he wasn't the slightest bit grossed out at the worst of your kids' diapers.

    ... he feels naked without a functional 3-inch locking blade in his pocket.

    ... he knows 1,001 uses for a 3-inch locking blade.

    ... you've sustained a serious injury while "helping" unload a septic tank.

    ... he has never been to a family function without being asked to 1) look at the furnace; 2) look down the drain; or 3) smell the smell coming from the shower.

    ... the hostess at the neighborhood open house hugs your husband long and hard. With tears in her eyes, she thanks him for his help. You see, last week her husband was recovering from surgery. It snowed and snowed and she was trapped in her house. And your husband took a few passes with the snowplow and made sure the wood furnace was stocked up with wood. And you never knew about it until the open house.

    ... he travels with his own showerhead and a crescent wrench.

    ... you've pretended not to be insulted when he is presented with yet another plunger-wielding-butt-crack-showing-plumber-on-a-birthday card from a well-meaning friend

    ... he always knows where the bathrooms are in any building because he noticed the placement of the vent stacks on the way in.

    ... you've seen your child sporting duct tape where a bandage should be.

    ... you were offered a cross section of 3/8-inch copper pipe as an engagement ring.

    ... you've ever had to drag him out of the shop to attend Thanksgiving dinner.

    ... even on Thanksgiving, your own dad and father-in-law would rather go hang out with your husband in the shop.

    ... at least once a week, he gets a call from Mrs. Fernwicky. She is old, and cares for her disabled son all by herself. And there is nothing really wrong with her boiler, but she calls once a week to report some symptom or another. You know she's just lonely. But your husband always takes the call, and sometimes stops by to make her feel better. And this has been going on for years.

    ... you've learned that few mistakes are as serious as improperly uncoiling a roll of PEX pipe.

    ... his e-mail address is some combination of "Warm," "Hot," "Plumb," "Tool," "Pipe," "Trouble," "Master" or "Flow" and not intended to be sexually suggestive.

    ... it hurts when someone complains about what your husband charges for his services. You know it's a bargain because you know how much it costs to know what he knows and be able to do what he does.

    ... you know you're going to get lucky if he's been welding.

    ... you've watched him dismantle a perfectly good toaster because it wasn't working as well as he thought it should.

    ... he put the toaster back together again, only now it's activated by a tekmar outdoor reset control.

    ... he has successfully performed minor surgery on a pet.