Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Vaccum

I remember some twenty or thirty years ago. Not only was my father alive, but Grandma was too. She was set up at Prell Gardens, a retirement apartment in Van Nuys near where my parents lived. I have no idea whether it is nice there these days or not, but at the time, it was a good place to live . Or maybe she still lived on the west side. I'm not really sure. But I digress.

Grandma preferred things remain the way they were. She was generally suspicious of new-fangled electronic gadgets like food processors. The day that Adele & I discovered that it was much easier to make pie crust in a processor than by hand mixing it (and the results were better too) was a sad one for her. She did not approve. And then there was the time that her vaccum cleaner broke down and needed to be replaced.

I don't recall how she came to get a 'self propelled' Hoover. I suspect, because it was top-of-the-line for it's day, that it probably came from Uncle Ed. She complained about it bitterly to my parents. About how she couldn't keep up with it. How it had a mind of it's own. To their slightly bemused, slightly derisve giggling. She must have gotten rid of that vaccum and gotten another. One of the good ol' old fashioned kind that didn't take matters into it's own hands. I'm not really sure about how all this came to transpire, but a few days ago, I learned that it was in the hands of Adele.

I am currently in small household appliance hell. My garbage disposal doesn't work. My microwave takes about 6 minutes to warm things that should take two. I have yet to do anything about my refrigerator that doesn't fit into it's designated kitchen spot, so it's still sitting in the living room. And my vaccum cleaner is clearly dying.

Somewhere along the line, I must have mentioned the vaccum, either in a blog post or by e-mail, because Adele made an offer to me about a week ago. She and Steve had purchased a Roomba and were enjoying it. They have a canister vaccum for their stairs. And they had two more upright vaccums in closets. Steve's old one from when they were single, and Grandma's.

"Would I like Grandma's old one?" she asked. And I responded soundly in the affirmative.

She brought it to me yesterday morning. It's white with a lime green bag. She left Ian here to paint his castle while she went off to do some errands. And after a little while when it became evident that Ian was doing just fine in the painting department, I decided to give the new cleaner a whirl. After all, it's been a while since my floors were properly swept.

I flipped the switch on. Gave it a little push forward. And, OMG, it took off like a bat out of hell. Charged forward like a runaway horse. And slammed into the small desk I keep in the living room, moving it by over a foot.

I jerked on it by sheer reflex. And watched in horror as it careened backwards past my right side and hit my coffee table. Hesitated a moment, then jerked forward again to crash into the commode and iron flowers against the wall. Backwards again into one of the wing chairs. And it was about that moment that I remembered the story that Grandma told about that one special vaccum and flipped the off switch as it sped by me again.

Ok, now I knew what I was dealing with. A vaccum with a mind of it's own. A vaccum that is, for all intense purposes, posessed. But it works. And it's the type of vaccum that takes bags. A huge plus in my book. I stood, staring at it. Considering it. And then flipped the switch on again.

It jerked forward immediately, almost forcing me to lose my grip. But this time, I held on by sheer will power. Followed it as it raced into the dining area and slammed into the table, positioned on tile with legs festooned with wheels. The table rolled aside and crashed into my bead table, but that was not enough for the vaccum. It continued on it's forward trajectory, knocking into two of the dining room chairs.

I jerked back on it. And realized that there was a trick to the machine. That by pushing on the handle, it depressed and enacted the 'forward' power, and by pulling on it, it extended it and put it into reverse. Ahhhhhh! Light bulb moment! Not that it mattered. It was in reverse again, slamming into me and then into the kitchen cabinets.

I thought about bowling with Helen and Diane. Using this vaccum was very much like bowling. At least like the noise and the crashing and the knocking of things down. And just like when I bowled, I started to develop a rythmn. I don't think I ever got complete control over it, but I realized that by flicking my wrist, I could change the position of the handle and slow it's progress - either forward or reverse - just slightly. And I turned it off again.

Ian had come over to investigate. When I first turned it on, he was over at the dining room table, painting his castle just the perfect color orange. But all of the knocking of furniture around could not be ignored. Especially when I (it) drove it(self) into the very table that Ian was working on.

"Do you know where this vaccum came from?" I asked him.

"Yes." he replied. "My bedroom closet." Factual, if not completely historically accurate.

"Before that. It came from your Grandma Ida. The one that you were named for."

"Oh, really?" he responded.

I asked him if he would like to try it, then pointed it down the hallway. When he said yes and took the handle, I flipped the switch. It immediately started dragging him off into the distance. "Aunt Laurrrrrraaaaaa" he yelled. "You're making it do that!"

"I'm not!" I said, holding my hands up in the air to prove it to him. And when he started to look a little alarmed, I went over and flipped the switch off again. And parked it in the living room.

Peace was restored to my condo. When Eric came over in the evening, the first thing I did was tell him that he had to try the vaccum out. Gave him the handle and plugged it in. He looked a bit startled when it tried to take off on him, but he's a big man so he held on. And laughed. And commented with admiration that this vaccum, in it's time, must have been the very top of the line. He kind of has a soft spot for cutting edge technology, even when it's 30 years old.

The vaccum is currently parked in the living room. But like all things evil, I can hear it whispering to me in a sing-song voice. Seducing me. Trying to lure me over to the dark side.

I can tell you of it's power. Alluring. Consuming. Promises of a clean carpet. And I think I am falling under it's spell. I'm going to go try it again. See who's in control here... woman or vaccum. I think I know the answer.

If you liked this story, let me know that I'm not typing for nobody. Leave a comment please!!!!!


Claudia said...

I, for one, loved this story. It gave me a huge laugh. Maybe because I recently threw away my mom's old vacuum that must have been genetically related to yours. LOL

Love ya,

goodsis2 said...

Maybe it's Grandma who has been doing the haunting all along. LOL! It does take off like heck on a hard floor, but it is delightful on a shag carpet. Remember how long shag used to be back in the 70's when this vacuum came out? That said, you get what you pay for. Just be careful not to suck up the dogs along with the dog hair.


hot tamale said...

Oh Laura, once again you've made my mascara run !!!! LOL I do remember shag carpet, ours was orange and browns!! Also shag hair cuts....even have an Uncle Shag too. Wish I could borrow your vacum and then leave it to clean house for me while I go off for lunch with the
Happy cleaning Laura, I bet you find any excuse to vacumn now....LOL
love ya

Anonymous said...

I love the story..I 4 one love to vacuum..I know I'm sick..But I love to vacuum and watch the dirt suck up and watch the carpet fibers change..I remember having to rake mom's brown shag carpet back in the 70's that part I could do without.

But now I wanna grab your vacuum and another one and do side by side comparrisons.

I told u I was sick.


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