I had long since given up on vacuum cleaners when I met Paul.
More than 25 years of love-em-and-leave-em relationships left me disillusioned and destined to a life full of dust bunnies and hairballs.
Bissell? Eureka? Oreck? I’d had them all.
I met them under bright fluorescent lights of big box department stores, flirted a bit in the check-out line and chatted nervously as I drove them back to my house.
We always had a great time in the beginning. They were cooperative, responsive and consistently did what I asked them to do.
Naively, I assumed it would last. Every time.
But, no, little by little the interest would wane. A missed bit of dirt here, a coughed up bobby pin there.
Eventually, they just stopped working. I tried, heaven knows I tried. I changed filters, checked hoses and replaced belts in a futile and eventually embarrassing attempt to keep the relationship going.
Still, they abandoned me.
The wheels snapped off my last vacuum cleaner and it glared at me there on my family room floor, refusing to budge.
With two cars full of houseguests aiming my way and a big party to plan, I begged. “Just help me out this one more weekend and I’ll let you go,” I pleaded. I’m not proud of the scene, but what would you do?
It didn’t work anyway and I dragged that vacuum cleaner out to the garage, just one more disappointing appliance to add to the heap.
Then one day, a bright-colored sign located directly across the street from my favorite candy store caught my eye. “Appleton Vacuum,” it said.
Gingerly, I stepped inside the door.
The friendliest, most knowledgable vacuum cleaner repairman I’d ever met greeted me enthusiastically.
“Listen,” I told him, all world-weary and old. “I don’t have much luck with vacuum cleaners.”
“Nonsense,” he said. “You just haven’t been buying the right ones!”
Then he gave me a lesson in vacuum cleaners that took me all the way back to Word War II. He whipped out a screw driver showed me how to achieve the proper belt tension. Turns out it wasn’t me after all. It was them, those rotten bagless vacuums, all along.
I stood taller as I walked out of that little repair shop, hauling my new Hoover Wind Tunnel with an embedded dirt finder, and thanking my new friend Paul, who promised to be there for me if I hit a rough patch.
It looks like 2014 is going to be a good year indeed.