Company’s coming. You know what that means: a mad dash to clean every inch of your abode and wash the sheets and towels so the guest has fresh stuff to use. Also some errands and pantry/fridge stocking. Thanks to your chronic employment and your friends’ looming arrival hour, you have exactly eight hours to get it all done, shower, dress appropriately and go pick them up. It’s domestic servitude writ large.
For me, it also meant a limb-threatening tug of war with the vacuum as I tried to install a new belt, having broken the other one weeks ago when I accidentally sucked that long string from the ironing board cover into the brush.
This was a ridiculous scene, I don’t mind telling you: me on the floor, trying to figure out exactly how to position the vacuum so that I could access its moving parts and struggle mightily to stretch the new belt into position without, of course, breaking any other component of the vacuum. Red-faced and tight-lipped, I pulled the band, twisting myself to see what I needed to see while the lighter end of the vacuum banged around until I wrapped my legs around it to hold it steady.
I nearly broke two fingers and my stereo, but I got it done.
And then I got to vacuum the entire place at once, without using the little upholstery attachment to spot-clean, as I had been doing for the last several weeks since the belt broke and I hadn’t found a replacement.
And it made me so happy.
Which is sort of sad.
I remember very well the occasion on which I knew I had unquestionably arrived at that point in life in which household goods and services replace things like CDs and movies on the list of most desirable gift items. It was Christmas, 2002, and my most prized gift was a gift card to Bed Bath and Beyond, with which I could go get new couch pillows.
My little sister, who was 12 at the time, could not understand why I was so happy with this gift. She had declared me old back in 1998, when I turned 21 and had to pay bills. This display of Christmas joy at the idea of new couch pillows was all the more grist for her mill. “You are a loser,” she tells me often. This is what it’s like being the oldest when there’s a 13-year span between you and the baby of the family.
Last month, my 34th birthday was greeted with a bevy of gift cards to that same big box store, this time so I could buy new Calphalon cookware and some energy-saving curtains and rods. And I was once again so thrilled with the windfall that I couldn’t contain myself. I had happily compared cookware brands and styles online before the big shopping strip, debating between the Calphalon hard-anodized 8-piece set and the Emeril hard-anodized 10-piece set (which is a trap, as I recall, because two of the pieces are utensils). My brother-in-law, who never buys anything without fully researching it through Consumer Reports, weighed in with his assessments of the pros and cons of each. I hemmed. I hawed.
When the day came to shop, I hemmed and hawed some more, standing in the cookware section and grilling the 20-year-old sales associate on why they didn’t have the Calphalon hard-anodized 10-piece set. This was because I had forgotten it was an 8-piece set, which I was staring at right then.
He was very polite about my memory loss, probably figuring it was because I’m old. Brat.
Called me “ma’am.”
Box of (clearance priced!) Calphalon cookware safely in my cart, I blissfully perused the window treatments for my energy-saving curtains and the rods on which to hang them (also clearance-priced). When I checked out, I had saved somewhere around $300 thanks to all those gift cards, the clearance sale, and two of those 20% off coupons they’re always sending in the mail.
Two! They let you use two at the same time! One of them was expired, and they still took it! Score!
Oh my God, this is what excites me these days. My little sister is right. I’m a loser.
To date, the cookware has been used several times, but the curtains and rods are still in their packaging. Since company’s coming, I’ve had to figure out where to hide them so they’re not unsightly in their pile where I’ve left them.
Next grown-up purchase: a drill to hang the curtains. It’s gonna be awesome.