Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Clean Sweep

Recently my mother asked me what I'd like for my birthday.

That's a loaded question for a guy who dreams of owning his own machine shop so he can "repurpose" shopping carts into room-for-one vehicles capable of topping one-hundred fifty miles per hour.

Ah, but then reality set in, which sometimes appears more mundane than a Barney Miller rerun. Thinking sacrificially of needs rather than wants, I imparted my need for a new vacuum cleaner (turns out that maturity is painful, and best left to adults). "You got it" was the reply I received over my Motorola Android Razorback Twin-Supercharged Megadata Blaster phone.

Before I get into the result of my mom's generosity, let me describe the vacuum it was replacing. Constructed of bright yellow plastic -apparently the same type used in the manufacture of 1960s Trim-Line phones, it seemed to be impervious to anything, including the dirt which it was designed to pick up. I once dropped it when I was carrying it back to the closet, and tripped over a porcelain dog sculpture in the living room. Anything else of that size and mass would have at least cracked under its own weight.

This thing didn't. It bounced.

It was a vacuum in the academic sense. It had a motor which spun rotors. It made a long, continuous inhaling sound not unlike a room filled with Zen Buddhist monks releasing energy verbally. And it had a container for the dirt it was supposed to sweep but didn't. Whenever I cleaned my home, I'd follow up with trotting out the yellow pretender -not so much to clean the floor but to go through the motions. It was about this time last year that the only way I could clean the carpet along the baseboards was by buying cheap duct tap at the dollar store and sticking it along the corners in a desperate attempt to pick up things that I either can't or won't describe in case you're eating while reading this, even though some of them were still moving. Somehow, housework never seemed complete without at least hearing the sound of a vacuum cleaner.

Enter the new Hoover.

Thrilled with the prospect of seeing what color my carpet originally was, I began pulling the new addition to the family out of its cardboard box, along with all of its extra parts.

And pulling...

...and pulling...

...and pulling. Finally removing the final bag of parts from the container, I opened Roanoke's new Hoover assembly line in anticipation of seeing what my carpet actually looked like under approximately four years' worth of dust. "Seems like it was some neutral color", I missed to myself as I attached some gizmo which looked like a stage prop to Star Wars III. "Too bad I'm a little colorblind. Otherwise, I could fully marvel at the berber under my feet."

I hadn't felt this psyched about anything since that time when I lived in New Mexico and goaded my former landlord into a chase on the interstate. The carpet was at least two shades lighter than I remembered. And the smell! What I had originally thought was a sinus hallucination turned out to be dust-free air. It felt less arid than it had for years. Frankly, I had felt, well, desiccated for want of a better word. Who knew it was humid in Virginia?

Eventually I healed from the first use of the vacuum. I didn't mention that the cord is both retractable and long. As I finished the inaugural sweep, I shut off Hoover's finest and stepped on the pedal which draws the cord back onto its spool.

I forgot to unplug it first.

Conveniently enough, I had plugged it into a wall outlet in the kitchen -right behind three bottles of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Let me say right here, and emphatically so, that a vacuum cleaner like this one really comes in handy for such situations even if it doesn't come with a first aid kit. The plug shot around the corner, missing a portrait and raking me across the cheek. The welt took longer to heal than the broken glass, which I cleaned with a broom and a piece of cardboard. The ramen noodles, which I had left on the counter in anticipation of a snack, were whisked onto the floor where they suffered one of the most devastating explosions since the crash test dummies were hired by Chrysler to test the interior safety of the Cordoba.   

In all, the vacuum has contributed to my health, welt notwithstanding. My home is clean. Olive oil and vinegar were replaced. The cord was wrapped more tightly than I was during midterms.

I was swept off my feet.


  1. I got a laugh out of this one! It kind of reminds me of myself. I don't know why it took me so long to get a new vacuum cleaner, but I guess I just kind of procrastinate sometimes. I'm so glad I did now, because my carpet, too, was a shade lighter than I thought it was. Not good!

  2. Thank you! Carpet isn't supposed to crawl, is it? I may have a problem here.