Saturday, January 8, 2011

Life Not in but With a Vacuum

I think this is newsworthy. But be warned, you may not.
Today I vacuumed.

What? That does not sound even interesting let alone newsworthy? Well, consider the conversation in my home:

Me: "Baby, do we have a vacuum cleaner?"
Chris: "Yeah, I think we do."
Me: "Any idea where it would be?"
Chris: "I think maybe I have one out in the garage from my bachelor days ." (note: most stuff from his bachelor days is out in the garage, so this is a safe assumption.)
Me: "Can you go look?"

And just for the record, he did go out to the garage and locate said vacuum cleaner (he knew the odds of me a) going to the garage and b) properly identifying a vacuum cleaner were slim).

If you are thinking "Teresa, you're 40 something (mumble mumble..whatever, I can't hear you) years old and you've been married twice. How do you not have a vacuum cleaner," then clearly you either a) have never actually met me or b) have forgotten to whom I was married. Let me refresh your memory. I married husband number 1 right out of law school (read as "with no practical living experience whatsoever") and he had a mother determined to prove, daily, what a horrible wife I was. She did this by regularly appearing at our home to vacuum, dust, bleach, purge, snoop, cook, condescend, wipe, and stuff my our refrigerator full of eastern European foods of the stinky variety. I was a new associate in a horrible large, condescending, hyper-competitive, demanding, ridiculous law firm, so I was more than happy to have the help and since whatever she was saying about me was said in Hrvatsky (a Croatian dialect) I was none the worse for it. Okay, well, until we had a dozen or so people in our home and she took her bright red scalded hands out of the dishwater in the sink (where she had stationed herself for the entire evening) and shouted "look how I suffer!" My comment that the handle on the right would give her cold water fell on non-English hearing ears. And don't even get me started about the party where she exclaimed about my "barren-ness" to a roomful of guests...

So, right, I never had to vacuum during that regrettable for all concerned era. I'm sure we owned a vacuum but when I left I did so in such a big hurry "must grab vacuum" wasn't really a thought. Must grab tequila and dogs was really as far as my planning went.

I'm sure husband #2 and I had a vacuum. No. Scratch that. I'm sure husband # 2 had several vacuums and I still had none. But had I thought about taking any of the vacuums with me when I left he no doubt would have fought me for them as though they were well-stuffed IRAs or the very house they kept so sparkly and dust-free (twice a day). We had a nice, civil, reasonable divorce. I'm sure that's in large part because I did not try to take the vacuum or that spongy thing on the end of a stick, or the stick with straws on the end. I left all of those behind. They were his friends and utter strangers to me. Let's just say he had Only Clean Desires. And I, uh, did not.

Today though, today I had the urge to vacuum. Oh right, you're thinking I need to explain why I haven't vacuumed in the last 7 years of my life since husband #2. Okay, fine. I have a housekeeper. Shawn does a lovely job and prefers I not interfere. And, um, I don't own a vacuum.  BUT... we bought a new mattress set! (No, not Shawn and I; Chris and I) And do you know what happens when you buy a new mattress set? Right. They haul away the old one.

Which leaves that whole "scary, never before seen let alone vacuumed" vast space under your bed exposed for all the world or at least you and the mattress delivery men. I'm guessing, now, based on very recent experience, that there are people in the world who periodically (say, every spring) lift up their mattresses and vacuum under the bed. Or have vacuum attachments (more on this in a moment--I was fascinated!) that reach under the bed and dispense with the four to six pounds of dust hiding out there. Chris and I are not those people. We are the people, we now know, who allow dust bunnies under the bed to turn into large warrens of huge, frightening, pink-eyed, rabid bunnies with fangs.

When I saw what the under the bed section looked like, I have to admit, I was appalled. Really, truly appalled. At Shawn. (Kidding!) There was no choice but to vacuum. Having seen dustmageddon, not even I was going to be able to sleep above it, no matter how clean and pretty (and, as it turns out, really, really high) our new mattress is. And vacuum it I did!!  But when I was done I was not satisfied. It seemed the edges still had dust and there were areas around the bed posts I couldn't quite get to and nooks and crannies and ledges filled with dust. Chris opined that he thought there were uses for those things hanging off the back and sides of the vacuum. Brush looking things, a long tube, an angled thingy. I had to admit, it seemed promising.

I am so proud to tell you I tried them all, attaching them one by one to the suction tube thingamagig that seemed to be a really important aspect of the whole vacuuming experience. And by god, they worked!! I vacuumed, brushed, angled, and suctioned for over an hour--in just the bed area! Seamus howled and barked and threatened the vacuum the entire time which he does not do to I'm left to believe it was the sight of me vacuuming that frightened the dog. Clearly I was under attack. No matter! I was successful. I was so inspired I got out this can of stuff that apparently you spray on wood and wipe up to get a clean, shiny look. That worked too! And smelled really really good. Like my house smells on Thursdays that I always thought was Shawn's cologne.  Never in (my post-divorce) history has a bed area been so clean!! I almost did not want to put the mattress down on the frame. Except for the part where sleeping on wooden slats would be, well, icky.

Oh, and I need to publicly apologize to the dryer. All these years I'd been blaming it for indiscriminately eating socks and here it was the big, silent, brooding bed that was thieving footwear!! And not just socks. Shoes! Boots! flip flops! Or, er, flip flop. And magazines from 2002, Carmex from godonlyknows, paper clips, post-it notes, an entire blanket and a sewing needle (at least that's what I think it is and I have to assume it's been there since the prior owner lived here).  Poor, poor  unfairly maligned dryer.  One day I shall make it up to him by cleaning his vents. Maybe with a vacuum attachment thingy!!A whole new world may be opening up to me. Pardon me while I go sleep on it...


  1. Teresa, you have untapped depths - this is hilarious ... now I see a whole new career in humor writing.

    PS I'm stealing a bit of this to post on my blog, to cross-link to yours.

  2. Sara--What, you didn't think my whole cancer experience was funny??? ;-)

  3. Oh, quite right, it turns out cancer is not nearly as funny as vacuuming! I laughed out loud several times.

  4. Well, yes, you put your amusing spin on it, but this post was unmitigated brilliance - I'm serious, this type of humor LOOKS easy to write, but few can pull it off successfully. You knocked it out of the park.

  5. Teresa,
    This is so funny, I can't stop laughing. Great storytelling!

  6. Teresa, Forgot to mention - I have not looked under my bed in a while either and I'm sure it's not a pretty sight! Oh, and my dogs get nervous when the vacum comes out too. I always wonder what they're thinking! I think Seamus' idea that we're under attack might be it!!


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