I stand in the basement of the house with our realtor, the plumber, and his helper. They are dripping in sweat, angrily forcing an "electric eel" through the sewer lines of our new home. Something has gone wrong and they stop the machines.
Plumber: Well this isn't good. (He pulls out the eel. It is dripping in brown goo. I am scared and grossed out and fascinated.) Look here.
Me: I'm not sure I want to look closely.
Plumber: Oh, no. This isn't poop! It's mud! Your floor drain has corroded away and that's flowing straight into the ground. You're gonna wanna get that replaced.
They decide to inspect the lines via the main sewer line. There is more grunting, sweating, iron dust from the eel flies through the air as the thing grinds through the pipes.
Plumber: Something's in there!
Me: What could it be?? (I am fascinated. I secretly hope it's a cat or other animal...)
Plumber: Use your imagination, man. Anything in the world.
Me: What's an example of the weirdest thing you ever found?
Plumber's assistant: (screaming from his position wedged between the pipe and the Pittsburgh potty) UNDERWEAR! BOY'S UNDERWEAR!
Plumber: I can't say. I'd rather not say.
Me: I'm a writer, man. Don't hold back.
Plumber: Well, this one time I was snaking a line in someone's back yard and their kid was watching me real close, like. He was very interested and I'm thinking 'now what the hell did this kid flush?' Their line was blocked good, I'll tell you what. I pull my line out and on the end of it is a ball of rubbers this big. (He holds his hands to indicate baseball size) I told the kid 'you got a 15 minute head start and then I have to tell your mom. She's paying me to tell her what happened here, man.'
Me: I thought maybe you were gonna say a skeleton.
Plumber: Well usually when it's an animal you just get fur. The rest of it, or human parts, don't last too long down there. I didn't even think to say animals. That's so common. Animals and tampons is what we see day to day.
He has found the nature of the clog and the men pull with a mighty heave. The end of the eel comes zooming from the pipe. I know it is going to rocket through the air and splash me and my realtor. I move, but do not think to yell "duck!" as goop splitzes her manicure and pretty shoes. I play rugby. I don't really care. I want to know what's on the eel!
Plumber: DUDE! You splashed the ladies! What's on your eel there?
Me: Is it condoms????
Plumber: No, ma'am. What you got here is a big wad of dryer sheets. You know. Like fabric softener.
He resnakes the line after removing the blockage and, apart from a nonfunctional floor drain, my house has some of the best pipes in Pittsburgh.