Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Death and Vacuum Cleaners

I had an epiphany on my drive home yesterday while thinking about my new vacuum cleaner and death. They both suck! (Ba-dum-dum.) No, beyond the bad jokes, I've realized a deeper truth. I know how that sounds. Bear with me.

My old bagless Hoover Wind Tunnel has become an electrocution hazard. Six years of wrapping the cord around the reel and accidentally running over the cord has frayed it in about a dozen places. I like my vacuum, so I have wrapped electrical tape around these frayed and worn places and hoped for the best. Last week while cleaning up after New Year's Eve festivities, I noticed the largest nick in the insulation yet. The innards of the power cord were completely exposed, and I recognized that I was taking my life into my hands if I kept using it. I taped one last time to finish the current job, but then began the search for a new sweeper.

I've known for a while that when the old vacuum died, I would get a Dyson. I'm a bit of a clean freak, and I'm a sucker for all the technological wizardry I've seen in the ads. I'd also been advised to get one by my eye doctor, who had invested in one and said they were great for people with asthma and allergies. A part of me has been wanting my Hoover to die a hasty death so I could upgrade to the Dyson. I've even had sudden compulsions to, oopsie! push it down the stairs.

I found a great deal on a Dyson online, and on the way home from work yesterday I found myself daydreaming about whether or not I would find a big ol' box on my porch that afternoon. My thoughts were interrupted by Ainsley.

"I love you, mommy. You're the best mommy I've ever had."

"I'm the only mommy you've ever had." (This is a standard script of ours; we repeat it at least once a day.)

Then the variation.

"If you die, will I get a new mommy?"

Umm...yeah. What do you say to that?

I constructed a quick, tactful answer and in mommy fashion, changed the subject (Look, Ainsley! An airplane! Way up there! Just shut up and and keep looking for it!) But I was thinking about Ainsley's new mommy.

We all like to say that, should we die an untimely death, we would want our spouses to move on and to find happiness with someone else. We tell them this, but it's not 100% true, now, is it? In our heart of hearts, we all want to be our beloved's one and only, his soul mate without whom he would shrivel up into a sad shadow of his former self, and know he will never find true love again. Don't lie. You know it's true.

But we also know that life does move on. I get giddy for my widowed mom every time a man flirts with her, or asks for her number, or when she gets set up with a friend-of-a-friend. She loved my dad, and I loved him, too, but I don't want her to be alone. I want her to love again. Most people, especially young widows and widowers with full lifetimes ahead of them, do find love and marry again. I have to confess, though, that when I was sick, I thought a lot about what would happen to Jason when I die, and though I wanted him to get through it and not raise Ains alone, I was sometimes sick with jealousy over this fantasy person who I don't even know and who might not even be out there.

Jokingly, I tell him she better not have bigger boobs than I do (this should narrow the field since approximately 95% of the female population has bigger boobs than I do.) And if she's all those other things I'm not, like tall, blonde, and leggy, I will haunt him. If she's a feisty brown-eyed brunette, well, I just may leave them alone; at least that will show me that I'm his type.

I was mulling all this over yesterday when it hit me: if I felt like Jason was trading up, like I am with my dead vacuum cleaner, I would be really hurt. Like, if she had bigger hooties and a smaller waist and a more pleasant personality and didn't freak out over spiders. This would kill me. Even though I would be dead.

And Ainsley asking me if she would get a new mommy? What if she's like I was, and secretly wanting the vacuum cleaner to die so she can get a better model with more bells and whistles? I am all excited about my new super-cleaning, high-tech, never-loses-suction sweeper; what if she's secretly thinking about a new mommy who can play Barbies for 6 hours at a time without losing interest and can bake 2 dozen cupcakes for class parties on an hour's notice and enjoys watching Wonder Pets?

My new Dyson did show up yesterday evening, but I haven't gotten it out of the box yet. I had done too good a job pondering the whole new vacuum/new mommy metaphor to be able to stomach it.

I will have to get my DC17 out soon, and when I do, I will have to set the Hoover out on the curb. I am putting the old aside and welcoming something brighter, shinier, better. I will probably have a religious experience the first time I vacuum with it and fill the dust cup up a dozen times with all the dirt my old Wind Tunnel has left behind.

But right now I can't help but think...I am the Hoover.

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