The Sound and the Fury

25 May

My relationship with vacuum cleaners is fraught and uncomfortable. I hate everything about them. They’re loud. They’re heavy. No matter what fancy dancy top of the line model you have they behave as if one minor misstep in handling and they will malfunction spewing the bile and detritus you have only recently sucked up all over the living room.

But also they are loud. It’s been my cross to bear that I’m easily startled by sudden loud noises like those little designer yip-yip dogs. When I was little the second I saw my mother drag the Dirt Devil out of the hall closet I was out the back door and into the woods. Our CATS handled the sound of the vacuum cleaner better than I did. To this day mom can get me to scrub an acre of tile flooring by hand but the second she asks for help with the vacuuming I go a big nursie. I will only perform this wretched chore when things have reached a Detroit level of filth.

Looking around I see I have reached that pinnacle. There is hair piled in the corners. Great rolling tumbleweeds of my frizzy nonsense. Over in the kitchen I see what looks like a desiccated brussle sprout. Behind the papasan chair there is either a pile of dust and bobby pins or a raccoon. I’m not sure and I’m fucking well not going over to check.

My problem however is that I had thrown out the vacuum cleaner my parents had purchased for me when I moved into my new place. I hated that thing. I named it after an old boyfriend because it generated more mess than it professed to clean up and it was difficult to shift.

“What do you mean you put it on the street?” Mom asked over the phone. She had that tone in her voice that suggested I had done something I really, really should not have done.
I floundered desperately. “Well… It was heavy! I mean really heavy and It hurt my back and it kept spewing dust! Remember how it would spew dust?”
“Yes, and do you remember how when the last time I was out to visit and I figured out WHY it was doing that and FIXED the problem?”
“And then I showed YOU how to fix it so you could continue to use it?”
I could practically hear her pinching the bridge of her nose.
“Look, we just won’t tell your father you threw out a Perfectly good vacuum cleaner and figure out how to get you something lighter.”

I saw my chance to backpeddle.
“No! It’s Okay! My building has a vacuum I can use! It’s fine! I don’t need another!” I said.
“Fine. Just…don’t TELL me this kind of stuff, okay?”

Now what I said was true. There was a vacuum for tenant use but it’s gone now. It’s been gone for a week leading me to believe it’s been stolen. I have two suspects. One is the surly New Yorker with the bowl cut on the first floor, but I don’t have anything to back that up. I just hate him. More likely is the 80 year old woman down the hall who loves to vacuum the same way I love merlot. Either way that bitch is gone and my home grown tumbleweeds keep on a rollin’.

To add insult to injury it seems that everyone is has the god damned time of their lives vacuuming their homes in my building and the one that joins on to mine. Hardly an hour goes by that I don’t hear the violent, menacing roar of a heavy vac churning up the lightwell. So I have to LISTEN to that wretched noise and tolerate the bunching of every muscle in my terribly anxiety prone body while simultaneously being reminded that there is less filling in my duvet than there is dust on my floor. For a month since I hucked my Vacuum this has been going on. A non stop chorus of vacuums, every make and model under the sun raising their gutteral voices in hearty refrain:


There is nothing for it but to scoop up wads of fluffy scurf with my bare hands like a quaint rice paddy worker. And to chase out that, turns out, very real raccoon that’s chewing on my router cable.

Thank god I didn’t put my broom out on the street too.


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