Vac­uum of con­fu­sion for the men in my life

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - LOR­RAINE SOMMERFELD www.lor­raineon­

While clean­ing up my garage to move re­cently, I found a shop vac.

It was a big, ro­bust fel­low and I wasn’t cer­tain where it had come from. Maybe con­trac­tors who did some renos five years back had for­got­ten it. It seemed like some­thing a lit­tle large to over­look but it had been in my garage for half a decade and I’d never no­ticed it, so there you go.

If you own a big shop vac, go and vac­uum your car. It’s amaz­ing. You can just shove the noz­zle un­der the seats and suck up things like gro­cery bags and ba­nana peels and mit­tens.

I was a vac­u­um­ing mad­woman, be­cause I knew I’d have to call my old con­trac­tor to give it back. I ex­pe­ri­ence the same level of ex­cite­ment when I have a dump­ster in my drive­way. Dump­sters are my jewelry, my roses.

A phone call to my ex cleared up the mys­tery. He’d pur­chased the vac­uum, one of those hid­den man-pur­chases much like I may have hid­den ev­i­dence of my umpteenth pair of brown suede boots. He told me where he’d left a spare fil­ter. I put the vac­uum to great use as I prepped the house for sale, and then didn’t sell. I made the mis­take of telling my col­league, David Booth, about my de­ci­sion to stay put. He laughed and laughed and then gath­ered him­self.

“Women,” he said, within earshot of his girl­friend, who was be­ing sweet to me about the whole non-event.

“I swear, I will never un­der­stand this. How can you go to sell your house and then not sell your house?” he yelled, be­cause Booth yells most things.

“It was just a de­ci­sion I made when I had new in­for­ma­tion,” I pa­tiently ex­plained.

Af­ter get­ting ev­ery­thing fixed that was wrong with my house, I dis­cov­ered I loved my house af­ter all. Makes per­fect sense. Ex­cept to Booth.

“This is ex­actly what con­fuses men!” he bel­lowed. “I re­mem­ber a few years go, af­ter an ag­gres­sive cam­paign by Acura, ev­ery sin­gle woman I ran into asked me if she should buy an In­te­gra! It didn’t mat­ter what kind of car they were shop­ping, the In­te­gra was al­ways in the mix!”

Booth uses a lot of ex­cla­ma­tion points when he talks.

“It was al­ways ‘Should I buy an In­te­gra or a mini­van? An In­te­gra or a pickup?’ I mean, se­ri­ously, an In­te­gra or a pickup! Are you kid­ding me?”

I asked what this had to do with me not sell­ing my house.

“Just that I will never un­der­stand women! In­te­gras are not pickup trucks! They’re not even re­motely truck­like! I mean, if you de­cide to sell your house, well … you sell your house!”

I ac­knowl­edged that small, sporty cars are in­deed not pickup trucks, but some peo­ple like a wide range of choices. Women peo­ple. Some days we like brown boots. Some we like Cobb sal­ads. I can pic­ture my­self in both a small, sporty car and a pickup truck, though I know enough not to ask Booth for his opin­ion on any­thing ex­cept the salad.

“Maybe they wanted your opin­ion of In­te­gras and pickup trucks,” I rea­soned.

Booth is a valu­able source of in­for­ma­tion on both.

“How can you be choos­ing be­tween those two things?” he roared down the phone. “It’s like choos­ing be­tween …” —a pair of boots and a Cobb salad, he prob­a­bly wanted to say, but his mind doesn’t work like that — “Oh, I don’t know what it’s like choos­ing be­tween!”

“You two should come for din­ner one night,” I said. “Now that I’ve de­cided to stay.”

I heard the phone clat­ter to the ground be­fore it was res­cued by a woman — long suf­fer­ing — who un­der­stood why I didn’t sell my house. “We’d love to,” she said. Booth was bark­ing in the back­ground, though whether in frus­tra­tion or laugh­ter, I’m not sure. Men and women are dif­fer­ent. But ev­ery­body loves a dump­ster and a good shop vac.


If you own a big shop vac, go and vac­uum your car. It’s amaz­ing.

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