You buy an old house, you buy its warts. Wallpaper that's been painted over in each of the last three generations. A furnace that rumbles and burbles as much as it heats. A washing machine so old that when you call Sears to ask if they still stock the parts, they giggle.
And in our case, a pink toilet.
That's right. A porcelain fixture exactly the color of Pepto-Bismol. It sits in the master bathroom upstairs. It was part of someone's decorating scheme from long ago. Mercifully, it is the only part of the scheme that remained the day we signed on the dotted line.
Every once in a while, I wonder what the bathroom must have looked like with a pink shower curtain and pink drapes, too. Then I shudder. And not because I'm cold.
Anyway, you learn to live with the pink toilets of this world. And if you find that difficult at first, it gets a lot easier once you ask what it would cost to replace El Pinko with an El White-o. The answer: about $200.
But what if someone told you that your pink toilet was a rarity, and was worth a bundle? What if a plumber told you that you were sitting on a pot of gold, so to speak?
You'd say, sure, right, and don't forget the Brooklyn Bridge the next time you come back. And that's exactly what we did say to Gordon Leimbach, a plumber who first commented on our magnificent toilet.
But Leimbach has been around Washington's fixtures for a long time, and he insisted he wasn't kidding. Pink toilets are rare jewels, he said, because they are no longer manufactured. While there's no established resale value for them, Leimbach said he has heard of sane people paying thousands of dollars for one.
"Jane," I said, later that day, "if we sold it right away, we could put the profit in the bank, and by the time she's ready to go, we'd have enough to send Emily to Harvard."
"You really want your daughter to go to Harvard because of a pink toilet?"
Well, that ended that. And a couple of phone calls by researcher Linda Josephson ended any hope that our El Pinko was the key to the future -- Emily's or anyone's.
Ed Leahy of Leahy Plumbing and Heating in Bethesda said that, although pink is a discontinued color, "I don't know why it would be worth any money." According to Ed, green, gray and even some shades of blue are every bit as rare in toilets and sinks, and every bit as discontinued.
Chester Summit of Summit Plumbing Company in Arlington agreed with Leimbach that pink porcelain is rare. But Chester couldn't understand how pink could have a high resale value. "I think pink sort of turns people off," he said.
Oh, well. Win some, lose some. But we are ready for the next round. If you suddenly develop a mad urge for a rare shade of formerly used aquamarine carpet, we'll let about 100 square feet of it go, real cheap.