My Love Affair With the Vacuum

I have a love affair going on with the vacuum.  It began innocently enough – these things always do.  It happened after I was married, after the honeymoon phase, when the cares of responsibility were great.  When my husband was busy at extra-help sessions and I was the lone force holding down the dormitory, molding twelve teenage boys into men.  I’m sure that’s how they see it.  

While they knocked on the door to ask for parietal visitations (a girl visitor), a note signed, or to use my microwave, I was upstairs putting my wee ones to bed.

“Yes!” I’d yell down the stairs in response to the use of the microwave.

“No!” I’d yell down the stairs in response to “can I watch t.v. during study hall?”

Those were the days.

After bedtime I would crawl downstairs, dead-tired, and go check in all the boys, track down the missing ones, then come back into our faculty apartment.

And that’s when falling apart could well happen.  She could come undone.

Our carpet was a dark teal.  It showed every crumb, speck, sand granule.  I have a clear image of dried play-doh all over the carpet.  It was red.  Toys, books, dried spaghetti.  I would inwardly beg for the millioneth time, for housekeeping to drop by and work their magic on my filthy carpet.

Then Daddy would come through the door and life looked a wee bit better.  He never said, “What did you do all day – can’t you clean the house?”  Without many words we would start to clean the downstairs.  It was a nightly ritual I began to enjoy.

Because at the end, the vacuum was pulled out of the closet.  I always wanted to get to the vacuum first – I would actually rush to find it.  With the flip of the switch it began to transform my life.  With a brush stroke across the dark teal, the dirt and crumbs and occasional toy would be instantly gone.  Life was CLEAN again.  And yes, the tired mother had accomplished a great task!  Order was restored, we could begin again.  Tomorrow was another day and as God as my witness, I would never be dirty again!

Until the next day when the hurricanes would whirl their way downstairs and fling their spaghetti and drop muffin crumbs for the invisible birds.  I learned quickly NOT to vacuum wet rice.  No, it was much more effective to wait until it was dry.  No, the vacuum would come later, and all would be well in the world.

So you see, it was an appliance that was hard to compete with.  The mixer might make me chocolate-chip cookies, but the vacuum has transformative powers that outweigh even chocolate.  And that’s saying a lot.

This love affair continues today.  I do not sweep.  Unless it’s an emergency, we’re having company, or dear vacuum is in the shop.  I take it there frequently, for tune-ups and so forth, to show reciprocal love.

Most (all?) household chores I find tedious, but not vacuuming. 

Sometimes, in my zeal to feel good again, I vacuum too quickly

And there is SO.MUCH.STUFF.  Microscopic Squinkies (if you don’t know what those are you’re really missing out); Polly Pocket shoes, dresses, and swimsuits.  Popped balloons, earrings, small scraps of paper, shoelaces, rubber bands, hair balls…

The children know:  If it’s on the ground, it’s fair game.  I will go after it.  Little is spared.  Socks, necklaces, cereal, erasers, hair ties, candy, doggie, small toes?  Tough cookies.  Mom!!!!  What?  I ask.  Move your feet!

In my zealousness this week, I vacuumed up Cope’s memory stick.

And I had a choice.  To tell or not to tell?  An inner debate ensued.  She had left the memory stick out.  However, she had left it out on the end table.  It was a little bit a stretch for tough cookies.  Hmmm.  How much did she need that 68-page story she was writing?

Sigh.

I went digging.

And believe me, opening a vacuum bag in this house is not only enlightening, but disgusting.

But I found it.  It so closely resembled a mouse I had to fish it out quickly and be done with it.  What else was in there?  A purple hair tye, a blue band-aid, a dryer sheet?

Brynne and I couldn’t resist handing it over to Cope without cleaning it off first. She shrieked in protest, making the entire experience worth it.  

I put in a new bag and went on my merry way.  In less than five minutes I had accidentally vacuumed up Brynee’s ipod charger.  Dagnabbit.  Another inner debate.  Brand new bag.  ipod charger.  I showed mercy and opened that bag and fished it out.  Much less disgusting.

And then I was down to the very last bag.  It was a nice, expensive one.  The cloth hyper-allergenic bags I only buy when I’m feeling not-so-poor (translation: once).  

So off I went, vacuuming and singing a song that resembled that of Snow Whites cleaning up after her messy little dwarves.  I even opened the cupboards and pulled out the vacuum attachements, vacuuming up all those little crumbs that manage to populate shelves on every level.

But the attachment hit a bottle of bacon bits.  And I feel I need to explain and justify. The only reason I had bacon bits was because it was on a list of food storage items one should have in case of emergencies.  I guess it gives flavor if all you have stored is twenty-five-year-old wheat and dried black beans like we do.  So we have a few expired bottles in the basement, at least three years old.  A child saw “BACON BITS” and squealed with joy, asking for a treat.

Mmmmm, child liked bacon bits and ate them with her little fingers for secret snacks.  And then she put the bottle back in the cupboard without tightening the red lid in any sort of way except to plop it on top and leave it there.

The bottle spilled DOWN.  Down, down, all across and in-between the cereal boxes.  Down through cracks and holes and into other opened boxes.  Oh, cross thoughts filled my head – Ain’t nobody got time for that!

But hark!  The vacuum was on.  And so we began again, inhaling large amounts of bacon bits, getting every last one on the bottom of the cupboards until once again all was clean and tidy.  Order again restored.  And the mother was happy.  Task accomplished.  I put the vacuum away and tossed that empy bottle of bacon bits.

The next day, when it was time to feel that peace and renewal that comes from a clean home, the vacuum cleaner was pulled out.  Away we went.  Except this time a great smell of…bacon wafted through the house.  The entire upstairs was filled with the smell.  Down the steps I went, vacuuming rugs and carpet.  

It has been five days.  And still the bacon smell wafts.

I have no other bags and the mall is ever so far way.  “What is that smell?” Brynne asked after school.  “It smells like…bacon!”  As she scurried to the kitchen, she found only disappointment.  There was no salty fat cooking, the smell was simply our own special brand of potpourri.  And somehow coming from the vacuum.  A curious thing.

The dog usually barks at the vacuum, but now he follows me around sniffing, sniffing, practically salivating at the blue, whirring appliance.

How long can this bacon bits smell go on?  We have two guests coming to stay the night tonight.  Do I vacuum early and hope the smell goes away or vacuum right before they come?  How will the smell of bacon affect their psychology?

Sometimes it just feels good to get these things out in the open, to rid yourself of the secret.  But my love has no shame.  This special thing we have goin’ on is here to stay.  Do you, perhaps, have your own love affair…something we should finally know about?


One would think husband would be jealous of such affection.  Strangely, this love affair is approved of, even encouraged.  Go on, he says, get your vacuum love goin’ on.  And so, with happy skipping steps, I look forward to my daily vacuum validation.  Love is very splendid thing.  

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11 thoughts on “My Love Affair With the Vacuum

  1. Jess

    This post is hilarious! It was ridiculously exciting when the hubby and I picked out a new vacuum after the old one officially passed away. I wanted to vacuum ALL the time. No other “chore” (if you can call it that) holds a candle to vacuuming in terms of post-chore satisfaction.

    And ah yes, Squinkies. Adorable and annoying as heck 🙂 After finding them all over, I have banned all but four from the house, though I suspect I will buy more for the wee one at some point.

    Reply
  2. 4amwriter.com

    I’m angry with my vacuums of late. They are not doing the job I need them to do. I need a new one. Plus, I never thought to give my vacuum a tune up! The things I learn from you, Amy. 🙂

    Reply
  3. patricksnelson

    That’s kind of gross to think that your entire house smells like bacon… coming from your vacuum bag!

    And I learned the wet rice lesson last week. After Claire threw her rice on the floor (AGAIN), I put off cleaning it up in hopes that it would be easier to sweep up after it dried. And sure enough.. it worked.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    what type of vacuum can handle that much of large items? and where can i find one for my house!

    Reply

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