Over dinner last night the subject of Methusala, (our antediluvian vacuum cleaner), arose. Not sure how. I believe it was me who mentioned him — in the past tense, of course — in a tangential way while discussing something else. Why the past tense? Because Methusala, as many of you know, died a few weeks ago. Or so I thought. I had, in fact, been considering ways to dispose of his carcass, (e-waste? Funeral pyre? Conversion to a planter?), but got sidetracked by the NY trip. Anyway, when I referred to our ancient appliance in the past tense, Mike flashed a victorious smile and said:
“I’ve been meaning to tell you — that thing is fine. It’s not dead.”
The fact that Mike calls Methusala “it,” while I — in writing, at least — refer to him as “him,” tells you something about our differences.
“What do you mean?”
“I changed the bag.” He said. “It’s fine.”
I don’t see how this can be. I checked the bag. I checked it twice, just like a vacuum-loving Santa. It was half-full, if that. The bag was not the problem. There was something else wrong — very wrong — with that machine. Something fatal. Something irreconcilable.
I tell all of this to my husband. He is unimpressed.
“There’s a qualitative factor you’re not considering,” he says, gesturing gracefully with his pizza slice. “It’s not only how full the bag is that matters, but what the bag was full of. That was causing your problem.”
I would like to tell you what, exactly, he said, but I’m afraid that, at that precise moment, I slipped into a state known (to me) as “comprehensional blackout” — a total inability (or unwillingness) on my part to follow the thread of a discussion when it leads into topics in which I have no interest. Mechanics, for example.
I do hear fragments. There is something about particulates, a mention of mesh, an example involving paperclips. Then nothing.
I come to. I have just spoken. I have no idea what I have said.
“Yes, we all are going to die someday,” Mike says.
Wow. That must’ve gotten deep. How the hell we got from half-full bags to human mortality I’ll never know. What I do know is: we all are going to die someday, but in Methusala’s case it’s not yet.