I love taking apart vacuum cleaners.
Ever since I was very young, few things have given me greater satisfaction than taking apart a vacuum, cleaning out all the hair and gunk, wiping down the innards, and putting it back together, good as new.
I don’t mind saying I’m pretty darn good at it, too.
Had I not been able to pass the bar exam, I would likely have set up a nice little sew and vac shop somewhere and made $237.43 per week. It wouldn’t have paid for the Milanos, but boy, would I have been happy.
So it was with enormous delight that I, assisted by Mike OConnor, my favorite companion in all things, took on the steam cleaner.
We were victorious.
I should mention right about here that said steam cleaner was purchased in response to the chronic gastric condition that first befell our first Bernese Mountain Dog, Angus, some time around 2004 after eating half of a chocolate birthday cake. Later that evening, at approximately 2:30 a.m., Michael and I were awoken by perhaps the foulest smell ever encountered by those who do not live in a raw sewage drainage field.
Alas, poor Angus had showered the living room with liquid proof why chocolate and cake are not good foods for a dog. Have you ever seen dog crap on a drapery valance? Until that moment, neither had I.
In the days and weeks following The Night of the Shit Sprinkler, as it is now lovingly recalled in our house, we came to appreciate the need for deep carpet cleansing and thus came to invest in our dependable Hoover steam cleaner, Old Steamy, who served us faithfully for many years until (1) we finally got rid of all our rugs; and (2) Angus died. (Sad Face).
For many years thereafter, Old Steamy sat, unused and unappreciated, in the laundry room, collecting dust and serving as a permanent reminder that there was once a time when our house always stank of dog shit.
Then, just a few weeks ago, Kyle Svecz and Brittney Billman mentioned they had to steam clean the rugs in their apartment before moving out.
“Don’t rent a cleaner!” Michael and I crowed. “We have one you can use!”
Much like my Dad, who used to say, “aw, why’d you buy THAT? We have one of those in the basement!” Didn’t matter what “THAT” was. Could have been a salad spinner, could have been a nuclear centrifuge; according to my Dad, there was one in his basement.
But Kyle and Brittney are very polite, so they borrowed Old Steamy, and they pulled three or four decades of dirt out of the carpets that had probably never been cleaned before (and certainly not in the month prior to their move-in last January), and returned Old Steamy to us, and you could see it in his eyes…he felt…needed. He felt important. It was like the Velveteen Rabbit but sort of in reverse, or maybe not at all.
Except Old Steamy was looking really, really gross, and so it was that our odyssey to return him to his former glory began. Out came the screwdrivers! Out came the sponges! Out came the paper towels and brushes and cleaning solution!
We had our work cut out for us: Fifteen years of dried on, caked on, 100% genuine certified dog crap in every nook and cranny and corner and crevice and surface and gasket and slot. It took determination, grit, and elbow grease. It took a strong stomach and a resolute will. It took the love of an old Vac Girl.
We brought Old Steamy back to life that day, my friends, and I don’t mind telling you, well, we’re better for it. I’d like to think the world is a little better, too, or at least our little corner of it is.
And now you know.