So, we got the bathroom door up and painted in time to protect the privacy of our Christmas Eve guests. But wouldn’t you know, the toilet seat mysteriously cracked.

No one would admit to dropping a heavy object on it, or slamming it down too hard. I didn’t even want to think about other possible causes. I just knew it had to be replaced before someone got pinched.

We went to the home improvement warehouse and gazed up at a wall of toilet seats. They all looked identical, except for the price. The bottom one, so to speak, cost five bucks and it escalated from there. We chose a mid-range double-cheek supporter.

In the meantime, my son was assigned to remove the old one. I provided him with a set of wrenches, but he couldn’t budge the nuts because they were corroded.

My family was careful not to let me remove the toilet seat. The last time, I got so frustrated I resorted to using a hammer to pound a screwdriver against the stubborn nut. I only missed one time with the hammer and heard a tinkle of broken porcelain. A test flush sent water cascading sideways onto the floor.

Anyway, we were tempted to call the Forest Park handyman who installed the door, but that was too humiliating. So I attacked the seat, setting loose the dogs of war: the adjustable wrench, the pliers and the really sharp butter knife.

The problem was the corroded nuts were plastic and no amount of torque from metal tools would turn them. I was just reaching for the hammer when a thought flashed through my mind. I remembered what the Scarecrow, Frankenstein and plastic had in common: they were all afraid of fire.

So, I put a cigarette lighter on the blowtorch setting to ignite the infernal plastic. Sure enough, a little blue flame started licking upwards. The plastic was melting, melting, melting. I was able to scrape off the remaining plastic with the really sharp butter knife. Sadly, though, the lighter perished from the intense heat.

Each time I removed a nut, I excitedly showed the scorched carcass to my wife. Finally, I presented her with the cracked seat. It was kind of like a cat proudly bringing its owner a dead mouse but I considered it a trophy for my one and only home improvement triumph.

I don’t know who engineered the old seat but they wrongly thought that corroded plastic would be easier to take off than rusted metal. The new seat had a much better design, with plastic washers for easy removal.

So, what’s the point of the story? I think it means we need to be persistent in overcoming obstacles in 2010. We also might need to post a weight limit in the bathroom.