Last week, we had to purchase a new vacuum cleaner after I accidentally sucked more fringe from the edge of our throw rug into the vacuum than I had sported on my purse in seventh grade. Our 10-year-old vacuum sputtered, coughed, smoked one last cigarette, and then crossed its two hoses over its middle section as it lay motionless on the floor. “It’s d-e-a-d!” I cried to my husband, who stood there with his own arms crossed, observing the scene like an overly zealous Funeral Home Director.
“It’s time had come,” he said with the wisdom of someone who knew nothing about how to repair a vacuum nor wanted to pay anyone else who might think they have the wisdom to fix it. “Our vacuum had a good long life. Let’s not be sad,” he added emphatically.
The next morning, we headed for our local discount store. “I feel like I should wait a few days before I purchase another vacuum,” I whispered to my husband.
“It’s just a machine,” he answered back.
“That vacuum and I went through a lot together,” I said sadly. “The kids were toddlers when we first bought that model. Do you remember how many marbles and Nerf gun arrows that vacuum sucked up and it just kept going like nothing had ever happened?” I asked as a sob caught in my throat.
My husband put his arm around me and said, “You’re not cheating on the old vacuum. And you won’t be punished eternally if you don’t adhere to the customary waiting period that a widow must observe after her husband dies.”
I took a shaky deep breath. “I know,” I answered just as we reached the vacuum aisle. We both stopped suddenly. Fourteen shiny beautiful vacuums were lined up in a row, just beckoning us to come closer by proudly displaying signs that boasted of features like, “Cord rewind button,” and “Crevice Wand.”
I peered at one of the descriptions. “It says this one has a lifetime HEPA filter. How do you suppose they define ‘lifetime’ at the factory? Do they mean the kind of lifetime that you and I have left or the lifetime of someone who just turned twenty-one yesterday?”
“Let’s not get technical,” my husband answered. “I like this model over here. It has a retractable cord, a hose holder, a headlight, and a combination tool.”
“You just like anything that has the word ‘tool’ in its description,” I replied. “But I do have to admit, this vacuum had me the moment I read about that cord rewind button.”
“Sold!” my husband exclaimed as he pulled the box off the shelf that held our brand new shiny vacuum. As soon as we arrived home, we immediately pulled the vacuum out of the box and snapped on the hoses, nozzles, and dirt cup assembly. “Turn it on!” I clapped excitedly.
My husband pulled out the cord and walked to the plug. Suddenly, I heard a “PSSSSSWHIIIISSSSH! as the cord flew by my ear and missed knocking my grandmother’s precious vase off the shelf by a centimeter as it snapped back into the interior of the vacuum.
“What the …? my husband stood there in shock.
“That cord has a mind if its own!” I giggled. “Let’s get this thing plugged in so I can see how that dirt cup assembly works. I’ve always used vacuums that have bags. This is exciting stuff!”
My husband took the cord, this time firmly gripped in his hand, and walked to the plug. “Turn it on!” he said as he moved back away from the wall. I stepped on the foot pedal and the vacuum roared to life.
“COME HERE AND LOOK AT THIS!” I yelled over the power of the 12 amp motor as I pointed to the hair and dirt whirling around in the clear container attached to the front of the vacuum.
‘THIS IS COOL!” he shouted. “LOOK AT ALL THE STUFF THAT WAS IN OUR CARPET THAT THE OLD VACUUM NEVER EVEN GOT OUT! I’M GOING TO MAKE SOME POPCORN.”
I turned off the vacuum. My husband stopped in his tracks. “What are you doing?” he inquired nervously.
“I was just going to try out the crevice wand,” I replied.
My husband walked over to me and raised his eyebrows up and down several times which only meant one thing in all our years of marriage. “What do you say …” he paused for emphasis, “that we flip the lights off, turn the vacuum on, and see how that headlight works?”
“As long as you’re running the vacuum, I’m game,” I whispered smugly.
Lately, we’ve stopped going out to dinner and to the movies. We just stay in, turn the lights out, and I watch my husband vacuum. Every once and a while, he’ll turn off the vacuum, look down, and pat the dirt canister while saying proudly, “Isn’t she just gorgeous?”
There’s no time for jealousy. I’m too busy admiring my clean carpets and to be honest, my husband has never been more attractive to me than he is when he’s running that vacuum … in the dark … with the brilliant headlight illuminating his sweaty brow.
As a result, in our house lately we’ve given a whole new meaning to the words “ménage à trois.”