Beware when a woman comes at you with a vacuum. She means business. I have at times tried to fathom this mystery. I think women like vacuums because they make an impressive noise. There is also a bit of shouting-in-proxy that goes on with vacuum use. Dogs instinctively hate vacuums, they sense something human beings have not immediately figured out. Men are not generally friends with the vacuum cleaner. They will make their acquaintence over time, and if a friendship develops it’s a great thing.
My first memories of vacuum cleaners are when my mother would vacuum, generally when she was vexed with a bunch of teenage boys underfoot, making a mess and not very aware of it. While you were watching your favourite TV show, the vacuum would enter the room and make its point, unapologetically probing your comfortable repose. A smart man would cross his legs at that point and hope for the best. The vacuum was sending out a strong message that was not to be missed.
Much later on, I shared an apartment with a school friend for a year. My girlfriend came over. We had been mystified about huge things growing along the crevices and cracks, under beds and in closets. They were dust bunnies, left unchallenged. The girlfriend in question quickly dealt with the problem and dished out some rather cross admonishments like “Didn’t your mothers teach you anything?” Apparently not.
A few years down the road, the parents of my bride-to-be staged a crash visit from the Middle East. They were checking out how I lived and whether there were any skeletons in my closets, before I married their daughter. My future Mother-In-Law looked about and said somewhat innocently, “End-aq Hoover?”, meaning “Do you have a vacuum?”. I scratched my head. Ironically I did not. I had one of those rolly floor things that you used to pick up crumbs. I handn’t seen what all the fuss was about. Amazingly, we made it to the altar and the nupitals proceeded unchecked.
But like a corpse that won’t stay buried, the vacuum reared its un-dead head yet again. First thing My wife wanted when married, a good vacuum. I couldn’t figure it out. They tell you don’t buy your wife a cleaning apparatus or cooking gadget for a personal gift. It sends the wrong message. But my wife, a very VERY clean woman, was ebulient and sanguine.
I soon discovered that marrying the daughter of a fixit guy came with some baggage. You could not ponder long on the laid-out guts of a broken thing, before my wife would elbow in, wanting a piece of the action. She has a mechanical brain. I do not. She has solved a few riddles. There is always that starting point where you are pondering the sick patient. “Did you vacuum?” It’s a woman thing.
I didn’t because I was afraid to vacuum up loose parts and the odd screw. My wife would take over and move in with the vacuum. Once everything was clean, she would eyeball every froward part and figure out what was amiss. She is good at fixing things. Today we had the same episode with a router and I should know better because we have been married a long time. I had my router apart to figure out why the switch was not working properly. “Did you vacuum it?”. The age-old question arose once again as my wife got out the dog hair vacuum, the one with the high pitched whine, and elbowed me aside.
She fixed it. I had nothing to do with it. She had that gleam in her eye that scares the Hell out of you, maybe literally. When women have a vacuum in hand, they mean business. It is the hand of God that proceeds the inquisition and the fixing of the universe, dirt first.
That brings us to Mother Ann Lee of the Shakers, who famously coined the term “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Cleaning has a primary spot in the order of fixing the world. The Shakers were famous for being clean when others were not, in the days when superstition said that taking baths would ruin your health. Mother Ann Lee had her Shaker communities dusting and cleaning from morning to dusk, driving the Devil out of every crack and crevice. They would open their windows in winter time. The neighbours thought they were nuts. But the Shakers enjoyed unusual good health from all this cleaning. When others were sick, they just rolled along in all their clean habits. I am sure Mother Ann Lee would have LOVED a good vacuum. She would have used it to ferret out every hoary evil spirit from hiding.
Be advised. In all matters holy and otherwise, keep the Holy Water and the vacuum at hand. You never know when you will need it.