One Thousand and One Vacuum Nights


The vacuum’s still there.

Kate and I walked past its corner this evening, this time as empty-nesters-in-training going out to get a sandwich (Tom was out rowing with the Sea Scouts). I was kind of surprised that the kids from the nearby middle school hadn’t taken matters into their own hands, but maybe they’re trying to fit the vacuum cleaner into their own little universes, too.

Tonight’s appliance-centric reverie — this time mine — revolved around rewriting "The Velveteen Rabbit" (I recommend the Meryl Streep-George Winston version) with the vacuum cleaner standing in for the story’s title hare. It almost works:

Much-loved and overused object of attention falls by the wayside as newer appliances appear on the domestic scene. The owner is taken ill — instead of scarlet fever, I see him going off his meds and getting involuntarily committed as bipolar. His hard-hearted landlord puts his belongings out on the street. Everything is snatched up but the forlorn vacuum cleaner, which has learned from a Miele HEPA-vac, a NordicTrac home treadmill, and a KitchenAid mixer that it’s of no use to anyone. Alone on the street and coming apart at the seams, the little vacuum hopes one of the kindly passing pedestrians will put it out in the middle of the intersection, or throw it in a Dumpster, anything to put it out of its ownerless misery. Instead, a magic fairy appears, restores it to like-new condition, and whisks it to a local flea market. There, its former owner, on a day pass from the ward, sees the little vacuum and is struck with an overwhelming sense of fondness for it. He assumes it’s a sign that he still has issues to deal with, and walks quickly away, leaving the little vacuum with all the other refurbished appliances. 

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