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LOVE DOESN'T EXIST IN A VACUUM

by Susan Samuels Drake

I call Sandi, my co-dependent in the writing vice, to say I'll be over, soon as I dispatch the vacuum cleaner salesman.

With disbelief and a hint of scolding, she says, "Don't you have one already?"

Whether she means the machine or the salesman, I'm not sure but answer, "Yeah, an upright." My tone of voice is somewhere between Ivana Trump discussing peasants and Julia Child answering a question about non-fat cheese.

I was raised on the prestigious Electrolux. But when Andrs (he used to sell vacuum cleaners) and I became lovers, he barked about my current Electrolux and raved about uprights. Surely, I thought, he would help clean house more often if I got the macho thing he recommended. I bought an upright.

Last week, my house-cleaner resigned, so for the first time in months I pulled the upright from the closet to clean house myself. Three different pieces of plastic hung like loose teeth off this hunk of equipment. Six hundred dollars and seven years later, Andrs has used the powerhouse onceto surprise me after a weekend I was away without him.

I'm now mad as hell, and I'm not going to lug that tower of power around anymore. Give me back those hose-tripping days of my youth. I made an appointment with the company that sells the dream machine of my childhood; the guy was supposed to come this morning. Spending more than $50 at a time makes me indecisive.

So today, half an hour before the salesman is to knock on my door, I call a local outlet that sells refurbished and new vacuum cleaners. I ask specifically about the Electrolux and tell the owner the woeful tale about the uprights unrequited relationship with Andrs.

She sympathizes, but alerts me: Have you seen the new Electrolux? They're plastic now. Not the sturdy, powerful machine you remember. And theyre way overpriced."

I bless her and call to cancel the salesman twenty-five minutes before our appointment. Even though his office is forty-five minutes away, his secretary says, "No problem! He hasn't left his office yet." (His late-without-calling- rudeness far outweighs my late cancellation, doesn't it?)

I hop in the car, buy just what I need locally from the sympathetic owner for a third the price of that figment of my history. In addition to a flaming red bullet-shaped Quiet Storm (no kidding), I acquired a reminder: Some things change, like how vacuum cleaners are manufactured.

And some things don't change, like theres no filter for men allergic to housecleaning.

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