The Jowerses were an Electrolux family. From the time I was a baby until I got out of high school, we used a sleek, maroon Electrolux canister vac. When the maroon unit died, Jabo called our local Electrolux salesman, a wide-headed man with a sweat-drenched brow and one extra-tall elevator shoe. He set up his demonstration area in our carpeted living room and proceeded to put on a show for Jabo, me, and my high-school girlfriend, Rita.
The salesman put the new, aquamarine unit through its paces. It sucked dust, dirt, and tacks out of the carpet. He made the mighty unit suck up three big ball bearings, then a bowling ball. Finally, he clicked the motorized carpet sweeper into place and sucked up about a gallon of sand and dog hair from what we thought was a clean spot in the carpet. Jabo bought the Electrolux, along with all the attachments. Soon after, Jabo died. I got the house, the Electrolux, and not much else.
Four years later, when wife Brenda and I started taking care of the house together, Brenda took charge of the cleaning. She vacuumed faithfully for about a year, struggling to get the sand out of the inch-long bean-green shag carpet. Every time she’d vacuum, she’d end up red-faced and sweaty. I offered to vacuum, but she wouldn’t let me.
“I’ll tell you how you can help,” she grumbled. “You can fix this carpet sweeper attachment. I have to roll it over a spot 20 times before it comes clean.”
So I took the sweeper off the end of the hose and started looking for the screws that held it together. Ten seconds into the job, I noticed a pink dot about the size of a pencil eraser. It was a hardened glob of Clove gum, the gum that ex-girlfriend Rita used to chew. The same Rita who watched the original Electrolux demo. The same Rita who broke into the house just after Brenda moved in and stole all of Brenda’s clothes in a pathetic attempt to reclaim her old territory. Rita’s gum had held the carpet sweeper’s circuit breaker in the open position for months, causing Brenda to struggle with a non-motorized carpet sweeper.
Brenda didn’t take the news well. “I told you she was evil,” she ranted. “I told you to have her arrested, but you wouldn’t do it. Now she’s haunting my vacuum all the way from California!” Brenda kicked the Electrolux, hard, in my direction. “You’re in charge of vacuuming from now on!”
And that was our arrangement until about a year ago, when our schedules shifted to Brenda being home more, and me being out more. “I’m not using that Electrolux,” Brenda declared. “It’s cursed by Rita, and it’s heavy besides. I refuse to carry it up and down the stairs.” So Brenda went out and bought a new, light Panasonic vacuum.
Problem is, I can’t work the thing. The Panasonic’s plastic attachments don’t snap on cleanly. The hose kinks up. If one of the cats knocks its food all over the mudroom, the mess just has to wait for Brenda to come home. If I try to use the Panasonic, and its parts start sticking and kinking, there’s a big chance that I’ll pick up the sorry unit, spin it around by its hose, and sling it through a window, pro-wrestling style.
I’ve been thinking about sneaking over to the Electrolux store and buying my own personal vacuum, just for emergencies. But I won’t do it just yet. I’m going to wait until Electrolux’s prototype robo-vac hits the market. This swell new unit is modeled after the prehistoric trilobite, an arthropod that lived between 560 million and 250 million years ago, and made its living sucking plankton off the ancient sea floor.
The robo-vac learns the layout of a room, furniture and all, and then vacuums the room all by itself. It can maneuver under beds and work its way out of dead ends and tight spots, which is more than I can say for some sorry-ass old dogs I’ve seen.
With any luck, the robo-vac will go on the market about the same time as its sister unit, the Husqvarna robo-mower, which will cut the grass all by itself, as long as a doofus dogor some mean old ex-girlfrienddoesn’t come along and tip it over on its back like a turtle.
Visit Walter’s Web site at http://www.nash-scene.com/~housesense. Or e-mail him at Walter.Jowers@nashville.com.