There are few things as mindlessly satisfying as vacuuming one's own house. The work isn't hard and you don't have to think. It doesn't take very long and the results, at least in my house, are immediately tangible. The air even smells better, thanks to my super duper hepa filter.
We have two kids and one dog and we never ask anyone to take off their shoes before coming inside the house. Mostly because we have two kids and one dog and they alone make the house unsafe for bare feet.
Most of what I vacuum is dust and dog hair. Mostly. But sometimes I marvel at the mysterious noises I hear clanging up the vacuum hose. Oh, I know. When I hear that I'm supposed to turn off the vacuum, put my hands into the vile, though terribly efficient, vacuum bag and search for the culprit. Because that stuff, the stuff that makes noise, must be important. Or even precious.
But I don't do that.
Or rather I have only ever done that once: today. When I accidently vacuumed the adapter to the headphones I almost never wear (connecting small to large, or is it large to small? I forget. Which means I'll never remember to buy another one and I might as well throw the headphones away.) That adapter clang was too big to ignore and from a highly suspicious location - the electric keyboard. Why, you might ask, would I bother vacuuming the electronic keyboard? It's because of the spiders. We have a lot of spiders living in this house and, ironically enough, a lot of arachnophobes. I'm the only one who's not afraid of them and therefore I am the designated spider killer. And I won't relocate them although I will relocate grasshoppers, moths and crickets. All spiders bite except for daddy longlegs, which is ironic because their venom is just as toxic as any other spider. But for reasons we don't understand, maybe because they're sweet or simply too lazy to bother, they rarely puncture anything harder than an ant. But I kill them too. Not because I'm mean or scared but because those things reproduce like rabbits. I vacuumed at least a dozen of them today and I know that in a week an entire set of identical replacement daddy longlegs will have shacked up in my house. The smart ones live up high, out of reach of my vacuum attachments; the dumb ones live close to the ground, which is good for finding food and bad for avoiding the vacuum.
But the fact that my house is a spider house has to be our little secret. Because if my arachnophobic family had any idea that our house was a spider house, they'd never come home again. They can't handle the truth: that every house is a spider house. Just like every bed, every eyebrow has mites. Yes they do. Oh yes they do. Try not to go crazy with the idea while you look it up and whistle a happy tune instead. Anything from The Wizard of Oz will do, especially this version with Tom and Jerry.
But back to vacuuming: I think my kids think that when I hear the jingle jangle of pointy things going up the vacuum that I'll stop and see what has happened or even open the vacuum to discover which precious thing has gone to vacuum heaven. This, as you know is not true. The truth is that I have grown to like the pitter patter of children's toys as they fly up the vacuum. Earrings from Claires. Bobby pins. Flosspicks. Things that once were glued but are no longer. Money. (Okay, I do keep an eye open for that since it officially costs more to make pennies than they are worth and I feel it's my obligation to keep them in a big jug in my garage that will eventually collapse under its own weight and take part of the house with it.) Hair clips and Barbie shoes which are officially from the devil; they hide themselves during the day and then strategically scatter themselves underfoot in the middle of the only path through the clean and dirty clothes that is your safe passage to kiss the children goodnight. Ow. If by chance I happen to spy a Barbie shoe in its daytime hidey hole, I take special care to vacuum it up. Yes. This is why all Barbie clothing sets have only one shoe. The rest of them are in vacuum hell.
You have probably done the math to realize that this is also where the socks go. When the girls were little I took great care to wash the socks, pair them and put them away in a drawer. Then they grew up and decided that matching socks were totally unnecessary, even unseemly. As were clean socks. Socks are now left to languish wherever they are left and paired randomly at the last minute, in great haste as their mother yells "I'm leaving without you!"
So if I happen to be a tiny bit distracted while vacuuming, and hear the gentle slurping sound that only a sock can make as it goes up the hose, well I have to smile a little. I understand now. I am a silent witness to a form of sock suicide: fed up with their own smelly existance, missing the mate they haven't seen since the day they came home from Target, they throw themselves at the vacuum, praying for some kind of escape. They don't know, and I can't tell them, that they've actually jumped into an alternate dimension, a smellier, dustier and darker version of our house – filled with all of the other things we no longer care to see nor step upon with our precious bare feet. But with any luck, these poor soles will finally find their long-lost mate. Those who escaped last week, to live forever, or at least until trash day, in the Vacuum Zone.