Do You Know Who My Father Is?
By Erin Holohan
And do you know who my father is?
My father is Dan Holohan.
When I graduated from college, I decided that it was time to move out on my own. I found a real estate company in Washington, DC that specializes in old buildings. Much like my father, I fell in love with old buildings because of their charm and the many stories that whisper like footsteps as you walk down their halls. And also like my father, I fell in love with old buildings because many of them come equipped with one-pipe steam. Needless to say, the building that I eventually found my home in met both of our standards. And for a time, I was happy.
That is, until the leak began.
The leak started when I was away on vacation - as leaks often do. It was almost as if it had waited for that final zip of my suitcase and slam of the door to call all of its friends and roll in the keg. I returned to find rusty water creeping down the clean, white walls of my bathroom, hinting at something even more sinister lurking behind. I tried to wipe it away with a tissue, but it persisted. The bathroom reeked of mildew. Its walls were spattered with swollen, puffy splotches, like it had just had a round with the school bully. I could tell that the leak was trying to poke through. It was almost as if the bathroom was crying out to me, “Thank goodness you're here!”
I shuddered and slammed the door behind me. Deep down inside, I knew that I had to eventually go back in. It was my bathroom now, after all, and I was responsible for its well-being.
I took a deep breath and slowly opened the door. The leak continued to trickle down the wall and onto the tile floor, like a bad horror film. Frustrated, I yelled, “Do you know who my father is?” It laughed, forming a red pool around my feet.
Your father is in New York, it hissed menacingly. And now you have to deal with me. I screamed and ran out of the bathroom. For the first time in my life, I began to worry about plumbing.
The next morning, I went straight to Eddie, the maintenance man. Surely, he could help me with this problem. I found him, leaning back in a chair behind the front desk, chatting with Sue, the building manager. Most mornings, they sit there with steaming cups of coffee, watching their tenants head off to work, like they are putting their children on the school bus. I must have looked rather flustered because he immediately asked what the problem was.
“There is red water coming out of my bathroom wall,” I told them.
“Sounds like you have a leak,” he replied, as if he had fixed it right then and there. He looked at Sue for approval.
“Yup, any time you have water coming out of a wall, it's definitely a leak. No doubt about that, honey,” Sue agreed, crossing her arms over her bird-like frame. Then they both sat there in silence, looking at me as if I had no idea how pipes functioned.
Do they know who my father is? I thought, looking from one blank face to the other.
“Well ...” I said, after some time. “Can you come up and look at it?”
“Must be coming from Apartment 510,” Eddie's thoughts trickled out of his mouth. He moved his finger up and down. “You're in Apartment 410, so the leak must be coming from Apartment 510. You see how that works?”
“I'll go up and have a look today,” Eddie finished.
That was all I needed to hear. I left for work, hoping that everything would be taken care of when I got home.
I have been very privileged to have Dan Holohan as my father. I have always known that, and I knew that even more when I returned from work to find that Eddie and his tools had been for a visit. The leak was gone. In its place were several large holes. It was almost as if Eddie had chased the leak back to where it came from with his hammer. My poor bathroom groaned.
When I saw Eddie the next morning, I asked him about the status of my bathroom.
“Yeah, it was a leak,” he said, adjusting his tool belt around his generous belly, like he had fought the good fight.
“There was a lot of water up there, for sure. We've got it taken care of, though.” Sue added curtly, refusing to disclose any more classified information about the building. For all I knew, Niagara Falls had just moved in upstairs.
“So, what about the holes?”
“Oh, that's to let the wall air out.” Eddie answered, as if this were common sense. “You see, usually they call it dry wall, but now it's not dry at all because of the leak. It's all wet. We have to wait for it to dry.”
“Do you have any idea when the wall is going to be dry?” I asked, trying not to sound too impatient.
“Maybe in a week or so,” Sue sighed. “There's really no way of telling when the wall is going to dry, dear. Just make sure to have everything out of the bathroom and ready for when it does, though. That is when we will fix it.” She waved her hand and I was dismissed.
Nearly a week later, I am still waiting for my bathroom wall to dry. I am waiting for the mildew smell to go away, for the water stains and holes to be fixed. Every morning, I take the shower curtain down and clear the bathroom out, with high hopes that things might be back to normal when I return. Every afternoon, I am disappointed to find that the painter has not stopped by and feel as if I've gotten stood up for the prom.
I sit and wonder when the wall will be dry enough. I also long for the old days when I lived in a house that was worry-free and every leak feared the name Dan Holohan.