In the Distance That You'll Never Reach
A few months ago, I realized my vacuum cleaner was trying to die. As gift-giving December holidays approached, I refused its plaintive pleas for the Abyss or the Arthur Kill. No, no. Sometimes the money's spent and I have to save up, dust bunnies be damned. Thus, you haven't been to my apartment in a while. Your respiratory system is grateful.
Last week, I called Siobhan and told her to gird her loins for retail battle. Today, she picked me up before noon.
Siobhan: Christ on a cracker! What are you wearing?
Tata: Jeans, sneakers, a sweater and what is your freaking problem? Where is your coat?
Siobhan: I just came from the gym so I'm still hot.
Tata: You feed me straight lines like I'm crooked and hungry. What's with the makeup?
Siobhan: War paint.
Tata: Right. To the Oreck store away!
I don't have a brand loyalty problem but when I make larger purchases, I try to buy American-made. Sometimes, it's out of my reach to choose this way, which is what we find at the Oreck store, where an ordinary cannister vacuum cleaner costs more than my rent. I squinted at Siobhan. She squinted at me. In unpleasantly raw and windy weather, we drove to Sears. We jumped out of her Ford Excoriator into a gust that destroyed our hairdos.
Siobhan: Make a run for it! Save yourself!
Tata: It's too late! My look's done for!
We walked around in circles looking for the home appliances because we've walked in circles arund that store all our lives and each time someone rearranges, everyone within a five-mile radius feels a disturbance in the Force. We turn a corner, we walk and - a choir sings! - there are the vacuums. They range in size between the tiny five-pound stick vacs up to vacuums I could wear to a costume party. I scope the whole display quickly and turn back to find Siobhan talking with a salesperson, and Siobhan is kind of...twitching. The saleswoman turns around and it's all I can do to maintain eye contact. This exotic, very attractive woman has shaved off her eyebrows, applied makeup with a kitchen spatula and painted on eyebrows that are trying to join hands behind her head. Siobhan was twitching because we are out-war-painted. We're sure she's armed. We are.
Tata: I need a vacuum. I have a sick cat who sheds a great deal but I will always have pets. I am allergic to dust and need to be able to vacuum my drapes. What can you do for me?
That sounds capable and straight-forward, doesn't it? Now imagine you're trying with all your might not to shout, "DEAR GOD! WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE?" I completely forgot that I wanted to buy American. In fact, I may be losing feeling in my extremities as I try with every fiber of my being not to grab a tissue and run for some paint thinner. She guided us to a European model I could easily lift above shoulder level with one hand and it's got a drapes attachment and it's on sale and it's so purple Siobhan keeps saying, "It looks fast!" I lose my mind.
Tata: I'll take it.
What? I didn't see that coming! What happened to my philosophy?
No Eyebrows Lady: Do you want the warranty?
Tata: Yes! Yes! Stop looking at me!
I don't actually say that. Back at my place, Siobhan reads me the assembly instructions in French because we can't stop laughing. The old vacuum and a heap of packaging have gone to the Broom Closet In the Sky or the Arthur Kill - along with my principles.