In the process of installing a toilet in a remodeled bathroom, I could not find a wax ring in my extensive inventory of plumbing parts that I’ve unintentionally accumulated over the years. This took me by surprise as I now have enough new and used plumbing to open a plumbing store. It would be very eccentric but a plumbing store nonetheless.

You’re not familiar with the wax toilet ring? Allow me to give you a quick primer. Attached to the bathroom floor is a flange that connects to the pipes in the sewer system. It’s a round, usually plastic flange that’s about a half inch high and has a 3-inch hole in the center where all the … where all the toilet flushes enter the sewer pipes. The toilet is gently bolted to this flange and a watertight seal is made between the toilet and the floor flange with a mushy, donut-shaped wax ring that is a bit sticky and brownish.

The first time you unbolt a toilet and pull it off the floor you see this wax ring all pulled apart looking revolting and you’ll think you have just eye witnessed all the unpleasantries you have ever imagined inside a sewer but, no, it’s just the old wax ring.

Every time you re-install a toilet, you need a new wax ring. I have one in stock all right but it’s one of those “extra-thick” kinds that I picked up, still new and in the box, at a yard sale. Extra-thick rings are used when the conditions around your drain are such that a standard-size ring won’t seal properly.

The next time I trekked over to the big-box home store, I was confronted with a mind-melting variety from which to choose and my standard favorite was not even one of those featured.

Wow. I suddenly realized that somewhere in life I took a turn where I now have a favorite style and brand of toilet wax ring. This in spite of the fact that I am not, and have never been, a professional plumber. Further reflection on this disquieting point is indicated.

They did have another brand in a similar style but it was close to $3. Next to it, however, was my preferred brand and style, only available as a professional six-pack. Per individual piece, the cost of the six-pack was a bargain but, still, should I go for the individual or for the half-dozen?

I stood there vexed. Would I be installing six more toilets (seven, counting the extra-thick wax ring I already have) before I’m too feeble to plumb? You don’t want to die and have a shelf full of new wax toilet rings. Some desperate relative writing your obituary will look over your space and write, “He was quite fond of wax toilet seals as evidenced by his extensive collection at the time of his death.”

In my youth I would go through home improvement stores and marvel at how many toilets they had for sale. I wondered who bought all those toilets, because I certainly never bought one or ever intended to buy one and yet I used toilets all the time. It was a gift from society or civilization: I could use a toilet any time I needed and yet not have to pay for one — and good thing; they were quite expensive.

Times have changed. At this point I have purchased my share of toilets and probably other people’s shares as well. I make an attempt at the big picture: as civilized people, aren’t we duty bound to graciously offer basic services and necessities to all humans in need to the best of our abilities? It builds community, acknowledges our common humanity and it’s the right thing to do. It may be a rational stretch, but I have never been accused of thinking clearly for long periods of time.

I bought the six-pack.

Back at the bathroom remodeling project my wife caught sight of the wax toilet ring box. “You bought six wax rings? Why did you buy six wax rings?” “My intention is to live long enough to use them all” was the only short answer I could muster.

Anyway, if you need a toilet ring, I’ll have what I don’t use at my next yard sale. They won’t be free but you will not find them any cheaper. And if you need to use the toilet, please … right this way.