Posted by: Abby Caplin, MD | March 5, 2010

Getting Rid of the Evidence

I think it’s time to confess what happened to me last Thanksgiving. I hope you’ll find this funny and have a laugh at my expense. If it helps you feel better, then my experience was worth it!

I think.

Little did I realize I’d need to read my own weblog for support before the night was over.

On the afternoon before Thanksgiving, I had a rare moment of pretentious kitchen creativity. It so happens that a few times a year, I feel I’m channeling Julia Child. This time I decided to make a pureed soup with a new industrial strength blender. I used fresh organic carrots, celery, cooked mushrooms, green peppers, onions, spices and potatoes. I was on a roll.

Unfortunately, the potatoes made the soup too thick. I found a box of chicken stock, and poured a bit of it into the blender. It was then that I noticed the box had expired in 2007.

I put a lot of effort into this soup. Yet the funny taste was unmistakable. After much sorrow, I took it off the stove, and my family took me out to dinner. They later left me at home and went to see a movie. But could I let it rest?

Um, no.

My desire to get rid of the evidence was so great that I dumped the poisoned soup into the sink. I thought the puree would go easily down the drain. Instead, a persistent brown fluid stared back at me. With false confidence, I went to the garage and found the plunger.

Happily, the plunging seemed to help the fluid drain away! I added more water from the tap to clear out the remains in the sink. I didn’t know it yet, but I had actually been forcing water into the dishwasher, and it had started to overflow. I was feeling smug, congratulating myself on having saved hundreds of dollars. When I finally saw brown liquid streaming through bottom panel of the dishwasher, I realized the jig was up, and hysterically called the plumber sporting the biggest ad in the Yellow Pages.

I charged down to the laundry room for towels to sop up the mess. When I turned on the light switch, though, I heard a sizzling sound and saw the lights sadly flicker. I looked up. To my horror, brown water was raining from the ceiling and onto prized electronic equipment. I dried it as quickly as I could and ran back upstairs. I began to scoop water out of the dishwasher with a mixing bowl, dumping the contents into a toilet in the next room, running back and forth with the bowl. I emptied garbage onto the floor, so I could use the bin to catch the brown rain. Finally the plumber arrived.

He informed me that snaking the sink might not work with our old pipes, and that the basement ceiling might need to be opened. He pointed accusingly at the deteriorating trap under the sink, shaking his head at my household neglect. He got a new trap out of his truck, but while replacing it, he cracked a different pipe, which then also needed to be fixed.

After I wrote the check, I closed my eyes, grateful that the sink was unclogged, and that the ceiling was intact. I collapsed into bed and searched the internet for “holiday disaster stories.” It turns out there are quite a lot of them. Strangely, I began to feel better.

Then I read my own post “Holiday Survival #1.”



  1. Oh, dear Abby —

    What a painful story . . . and yet I have been there too. I was right there with you running back and forth trying to fix the mess. (having lived through the death and replacement of a disposal and backed-up pipes filled with decaying, smelly eggshell peelings — blecch!!!).

    We love to believe we can fix it all by ourselves (at least I love to try!). It would have felt so good not to have that spoiled soup anymore. I wonder how many of us try to do the exact same kind of thing — with equally disastrous results — with some of our interpersonal “errors”??? What is the psychological equivalent of brown water flushing into the dishwasher, and then raining into one’s previously clean basement?? All because we feel bad about something we have done, and want to “destroy the evidence” of our imperfection?? (or that is my rhapsody to what you have written, showing my own weirdness rather than anything related to you. 🙂

    I love your posts, Abby. Thanks so much for sharing this one. Maybe “Permission to Heal” is also “Permission to be Real”.


    • Thank you, Pam. I love your practical insight! You are so right.
      Our inner “perfectionists” would rather not have to deal with mistakes. I let mine take over for just a few seconds and look at what happened!

  2. Dear Abby,
    Oh, my heart goes out to you, but I admit I am chuckling as I write this. As Pam said, we have all been through some version of your story, yet I believe that they seem to happen more often on and around Thanksgiving than any other time!! Don’t know how the old cosmic boomerang knows the date, but it seems it always does. Plus it nearly always has to do with plumbing and cooking. So know you’re not alone and that you brought laughter and warmth to this reader. When we share stories like these it seems to draw us closer. I like that. Thanks for stepping out there.

    • Thank you, Donna, for your sweet support! I’m glad the story made you smile.
      Oh, and a word to everyone: never blend cooked potatoes and throw it down the sink!

      All the best, Donna!


  3. I am hearing a lot of curses as I read your post, trying not to laugh too much because I doubt it was funny at the time. Poor you having to deal with all that mess.

    CJ xx

    • Dear Crystal,

      Yes, laugh! Don’t hold back. Thanks, Crystal!


  4. Here’s my post about the soup rescue! But don’t worry, I have plenty other disasters – see the posts under “don’t try this”.

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