My family came to visit, seeing my new apartment in San Francisco for the first time.

My dad, in typical fatherly fashion, had to make himself useful by playing Mr. Fix-It.

“What’s wrong with your sink?” He asks, as if he doesn’t already know.

“It runs slow,” I answer.

“Did your friend not live here for a long time?”

“He has been gone a while.”

“The pipes are probably clogged with silt. I can fix this. Do you have something I can use to clean the pipes, like a hanger?”

I find an old dry cleaner’s hanger with the cardboard bottom and hand it to him. He pulls the cardboard stick part off and starts messing with the sink.

The rest of us continue doing normal family visiting things, like talking. I hear him continue to tinker away with the sink, flushing water, and seeing how slow it drains.

Finally he moves on to the metal part of the coat hanger and bends it like a fishing line and hook. He starts trying to clear whatever gunk buildup he can reach with it. Then it gets stuck.

He calls my younger brother for help, figuring a younger, stronger person could get the coat hanger unstuck. My brother fails, and it starts looking like we’ll need to take apart the pipes.

My father likes to tell people how he once visited a fortune teller who read his palm and told him that in a past life he was a great Chinese philosopher. Confucius, he decided.

As I relay the news to the rest of the family that we now need to make a trip to the local hardware store to fix the sink, I joke, “In a past life, he was an abortionist.”

“But not a very good one,” my brother adds.

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