What would Cole Porter do about drips night and day?

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Surely the feeling will pass. But every time I go near the kitchen sink, I am struck by the silence. For months the faucet demanded a special new move, or I heard a drip, drip, drip saying "you, you, you" like those raindrops in Cole Porter's "Night and Day." Even now I automatically shift the handle a little to the right.

I never minded performing this small antidrip ritual instead of calling a plumber. But the major user of the kitchen thought the faucet should turn off as it was supposed to - with the handle straight down. She has this notion that people should control machines and not be subject to behavior modification by them.

As for the rotary faucets in the house, drips could not be stopped by the option of moving them a little to the right. So I've always had a choice assortment of washers to replace the worn ones that allow drips.

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The kitchen drips, you may have guessed, were from a faucet with a single spout and a handle that moves from side to side for hot or cold water, and up and down for on and off. The handle is held on by a screw that needs a hexagonal wrench, and I thought I had a tidy set in graduated sizes.

I couldn't lay my hands on it, though. But wait, with a plumber's big wrench I could take off the whole top of the faucet, including the handle. But nothing inside matched my washer collection. So I had to get something to fit a metal sphere that looked somewhat like a tiny soccer ball, only with holes instead of markings.

The faucet sounded familiar to the hardware man I talked to on the phone, and he said I could bring it in for a fitting. He took off the handle with his handy hex wrench.

Oh, yes, he said, I needed a couple of little washers on metal springs for the holes in the soccer ball's socket. I asked about replacing the O-rings that seemed to seal the faucet housing.

"Oh, was that leaking, too?" he asked.

I thought I might as well do everything while I had it apart.

OK, then I might want this little kit that had all the parts, he suggested. It even had its own hex wrench that was the right size.

Back home, working against the clock while the major kitchen user was away, I got almost everything together. But somehow the works inside the faucet kept it from closing. The handle was hard to move.

What would Cole Porter do? Well, wouldn't anybody go to the Web these days? I browsed and discovered a detail the hardware man didn't tell me. What seemed like a defect in the socket was actually a tiny pin meant to fit a slot in the "soccer ball."

I didn't finish quite on schedule. But the major kitchen user warily tried the results and found them good. Night and day, she is the one, only she beneath the moon and over the sink.

Of course, I later found my old hex wrench set. Does anyone want my new one? Only the Jack Benny I remember from simpler faucet days would return it for a refund.

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