On how we explain things

So the other day I got an unexpected check in the mail, and I went out and squandered it on a food processor and a Dustbuster. The nineteen-year-old who still lives in my brain was appalled that this is what I would do with a hundred bucks because she would have bought some great shoes and hitched a ride to SXSW to spend it there. But I digress.

I am not a person who vacuums, ever, but I got the Dustbuster because of all the sand that had collected in my car and was scratching up my shoes. They are not the great shoes I wore when I was nineteen and hadn’t yet blown out my knees practicing martial arts, but I was still annoyed enough by the scratches to actually think, “You know, if I vacuumed out the car, this wouldn’t happen.”

To vacuum out the car would require finding the vacuum, lugging it out of wherever I stuck it when I moved in here five years ago, trying to get the attachments to attach and like that. Every time I thought about it I had to go lie down.

But the check came and the idea of getting a small handheld vacuum for the car popped into my head, and without considering my other options (I could have bought books! I could have bought wine!) I headed to Target and became the proud possessor of a Dustbuster. (Also the food processor, but this isn’t a story about the food processor.)

So I vacuumed up the sand, and the Dustbuster worked exactly as I wanted it to, and as I emptied the canister into the trash, I realized that I had sucked up a little bug, a small black beetle. The beetle was still alive, although somewhat befuddled by his experience.

And it occurred to me that this was going to be a hell of a story for him to tell his beetle friends:

“I was just sitting there, in that spot under the seat, you know the one? Where there’s that french fry? When suddenly I heard a noise like a screaming chainsaw!

“Before I could react, I was sucked up in a whirling wind of sand and dust, thrown into a prison of clear Plexiglass, and tumbled about in circles for what seemed like forever!

“Then it went deathly quiet. The wind stopped howling. The prison was opened and I was dumped into an abyss that smelled a lot like that Dumpster we used to hang out at. You know the one? It took forever to crawl out of that pit of despair and return home.”

And you know that none of his beetle friends will actually believe he was abducted by aliens. And if you were to tell the beetle that he’d been accidentally sucked up by a Dustbuster wielded by a woman wearing a darling pink T-shirt, he would think you were out of your mind.


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