The vacuum cleaner is one of my favorite machines. This is an embarrassing disclosure because it could lead to charges that (1) a guy is actually capable of operating a a vacuum cleaner -- something 70 percent of the adult male population denies -- and (2) that a guy could actually enjoy it.
Let me immediately go on record as stating that I am only a recreational user of the vacuum cleaner. I like to use it for short, quick, whimsy-driven undertakings, such as getting the sand out of the car's back seat.
I do not, repeat not, endorse the concept of a grown guy vacuuming the rug in the family room every Saturday morning. This habitual vacuuming is against the "natural law" of guyness.
Nor do I hold that there is anything wrong with guys, other than myself, regularly vacuuming rugs. I believe in the inalienable right of every American, regardless of race, creed, color, or gender to vacuum freely.
If asked how I can reconcile this natural law of guyness with the inalienable right to vacuum, I would, like a recent Supreme Court nominee, reply that I haven't thought about it.
Having disposed of the thorny philosophical issues of vacuum use, let's get down to the good stuff: the attachments.
My vacuum has lots of them. I should actually say "our vacuum" since this vacuum comes from my wife's side of family. It is a vintage upright 1966 model Kirby, and has an instruction book filled with black and white photos showing women vacuuming while wearing June Cleaver dresses and high heels and men vacuuming while clad in Ward Cleaver shirts and ties.
It also has, as Beaver Cleaver would say, a bunch of "neato" options, including the "rug renovator," which shampoos rugs. Hooking up the shampoo option to the vacuum cleaner requires many manly skills. Among them are the ability to read the instruction book and the ability to find the "grommet fitting" on the hose that connects to the "renovator tank," the one with the "suds-o-screen."
I performed both these functions because I am the man of the house, and putting attachments on vacuum cleaners is one of the few remaining areas requiring manly expertise. The opening of stuck peanut butter and ketchup lids, for instance, was once a guy-thing. But thanks to all those push-ups in aerobics classes it has become a gal-thing as well.
After lots of hard work, I have become proficient in "toe touch" control. That is the control that raises and lowers the "rug nozzle," which is the big metal head of the vacuum that sucks up dirt. I am also adept at removing the "rug nozzle," attaching a "hose to intake" hole, and reversing the process.
Putting the rug nozzle back on requires use of "the magic finger" or "belt lifter." Not only am I familiar with these operations, I am also an experienced "belt replacer."
To give credit where it is due, I was taught the skill of belt replacing by the folks at Miller Appliance Co. This is a vacuum repair shop downtown on Mulberry Street -- the street that is constantly under repair. It is staffed by people who know their "duster buffers" from their "power polishers." The duster buffer, or course, merely snaps on to the bottom of the rug nozzle. Whereas your power polisher fits on the front of the machine. In both cases, your "toe touch control" is set at "0." Anyway, a fellow at the shop showed me how to snap a new belt onto the "brush roll" in the rug nozzle. Later, when I got back home, I gathered the family around me, and imitated the procedure. They were impressed.
Many vacuuming challenges await me. The instruction booklet has photos showing how to use the vacuum's "spray-gun" to paint shutters, its "suds-o-gun" to clean upholstery, a "crystalator" to spray mothball fumes on your clothes.
Finally there are the exciting options presented by the "handi-butler." With this attachment not only can you buff and polish your belongings, you can also -- are you ready for this? -- sharpen your knives.
I don't have all these vacuuming accouterments yet. But Christmas is just around the corner.