Frozen pipes? Don’t even get me started on frozen pipes. Remember, I am a member of the Raw Sewage in Your Face Club: a small fraternity of hard-core plumbing problem solvers — and that includes all manner of frozen-pipe problems.

No, I have never started a building afire thawing pipes but I have been in a variety of distasteful places working to get whatever is in the pipes thawed and flowing again. I have many unsavory stories but the one that sticks with me and will never go away is The Case of the Frosty Pipes and the Foxy Lady (add Jimi Hendrix guitar riff here).

In my young adult life I discovered a secret to winning the favor of attractive females was to provide a service in a manner that no other man in the immediate vicinity could supply. If their car would not start I would provide the jump; in more difficult situations, the tow. When they were hopelessly locked out of their apartment I could find an easy way in. If they needed to get an ankle bracelet or hand cuffs removed I could do the job with only a delicate touch and some personal lubricant.

Some guys went to bars, some found love at social functions but I had an ear for mechanical, electrical and structural trouble. If there was a frozen pipe, I could thaw it and perhaps melt a heart in the process.

The moment she walked into my life and explained her plumbing problem I had a burning desire to thaw her pipes. She had legs that went from here to Wisconsin, a curvaceous curvature and the fragrance of adventure. She lived alone and the winter wind and arctic temperatures were intruding on her personal space, not to mention her water supply. She suggested — and I agreed — to meet at her private residence in the early evening.

After some promising pleasantries I made the first move and asked that she show me to the entrance of her problem area. She took me into a hallway. Next to her bedroom door, she gave me an auspicious look and kicked away the throw rug shamelessly revealing the trap door to her crawl space. I opened it without hesitation, checked my tools, turned on my headlamp and descended into the darkness that was cold from the winter, humid from leaky pipes and slightly toxic from the treated foundation lumber.

The space was cramped. Crawling on the soil, I traced out the path of the pipes as they dove in and out of the insulation that had been rearranged by whatever creatures had been living there. The mice kept their distance but 

I could smell their presence. It was too cold to shake hands with the spiders but they had left enough webs to weave a silk negligee.

I found the problem and went to work. By the time I finished, the mud, mice and fumes had infused me with evidence of my dedication. The water was flowing, pipes were repaired and insulated. It was my time to bask in the glory of the rescue. I had no idea that the greatest horror of the evening was about to darken this darkest of nights.

Crawling to the trap door I heard a sweet voice beckoning. She was my beacon back to cleanliness and culture. I had to bend my head to get it into the opening and when I looked up, there she was in all her rapturous beauty — standing in close proximity to her buff and Gentlemen’s Quarterly-like boyfriend.

There was an awkward introduction. He was sipping on a cup of what I assumed was hot coffee but perhaps it may have been a brandy-infused espresso or, to really sink the knife in deeper, an Irish coffee with double whipped cream. Whatever it was, he had it — and the girl. I had nothing but frozen spider silk and pink fiberglass insulation in my beard. 

Bamboozled, hornswoggled and outfoxed, I emerged from the hell hole without assistance as I may have soiled the radiant couple just through adjacency. I believe I was offered many thanks and a helping of humble pie with a side of crow for the road, which I accepted in great quantity before making my way to the door.

Walking to my car, the subzero temperature felt warm compared to the distinct chill in the house. I had to get home to start the coffee maker. It would take a lot of cups to swallow all that humble pie.