Monday, April 07, 2003

I walked in the door this evening, looked around my apartment, and decided that it was time to vacuum. For those of you who think vacuuming is no big deal, I say, "You obviously don't live in an apartment with five cats, and two women with long hair."

Vacuuming is not about taking out the vacuum cleaner, plugging it in, making a pass or two across the carpet and putting it away again. This is cleaning on an epic scale.

First, you have to pick up the worst of the cat fur and people hair to prevent it from getting wound around the vacuum, causing the motor to burn out. Next, you take out the vacuum, plug it in, turn it on, laugh as the five adorable reasons why your apartment is always a mess go scampering from the room.... Then, you get to run the vacuum for a few minutes before the smell of burning hair alerts you to the fact that the person who vacuumed last probably skipped step one. You extricate the clumps of hair and dust from the vacuum cleaner with a pair of scissors, then run the vacuum some more. Back and forth, back and makes absolutely no difference. It's time to break out the attachments. You run the hose directly over the carpet, attacking the worst of the cat fur and listening to the rattling of something (a thumb tack? a paper clip? who knows?) stuck in the bowels of the vacuum hose. Finally, when the carpet is as free of fur as it is ever likely to get, you put the vacuum away, and break out the scissors again, to cut away the parts of the carpet that the cats have been using as a scratching post.

If you're like me, and allergic to practically everything, you perform this whole operation with a paper mask attached to your face, steaming up your glasses and hoping that you will still be able to breathe when it's all over. Then you can survey your handiwork and try to convince yourself that the living room looks a little better. Really, it does.

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