The Big Blue Carpet: A Story of Vacuums and String

Years ago when we first moved to our apartment the most obvious part about it was the big blue carpet. Even now, years later, and several requests for removal denied, it remains, as blue as ever. 

It all started with a string. Just a piece. But there it was.

I couldn't recall using string for anything, ever. String certainly wasn't my thing. I had nothing to do with it.

A few weeks passed, and the apartment became ours. We claimed it with new furniture and old things that have been a part of us forever, or close to it.

The bookshelves go over there. Plants on the windowsills. Where to put the linens? An old table with a lamp attached to it that no longer works. Pretty neat. Tables, bed, mattress. We purchase a pale green couch because it is cheap and moderately sized. 


Things move. Things shift. The carpet remains blue.

Is it dirty?
Does it look weird?
It's dirty.

The string becomes two strings.

Then, after returning home one day from work, there are three. Three strings on a blue carpet. What does it mean? I don't know.

Neither does Amanda. We look at each other, eyebrows arching, eyes darting back and forth and to and fro. Why is this happening to us? What's with the string?

Amanda tells me that it is not a string, but is, in fact, and more accurately, a thread. A thread. Got it. 

Get the vacuum.
I'll get the vacuum.

The vacuum is working, a bit, at least a bit. But it doesn't pick up the thread. The thread is glued to the carpet. It is invincible. It has no intention of being sucked up. The carpet is now the protector and champion of all threads and threadlike things.

I think to myself, in a serious way, that perhaps we need another plan. Maybe this carpet is too clever for a vacuum. Maybe, what we need is a Dustbuster, to supplement the vacuum.

Luckily we live within walking distance of the Bed Bath & Beyond. I cancel my activities for the day, pluck a coupon from the stack, and before I know it I'm on a full-blown mission to purchase a brand-spanking new Dustbuster.

Only the best will do. I scour the store. The thread is doomed. 

One Dustbuster, please.
Do you have a coupon?
I have a coupon.

Everybody always has a coupon. Planes fly over America on a daily basis dropping Bed Bath & Beyond coupons from the sky. I have a million of them.

The Dustbuster is best described as okayish. Still the carpet is getting dirtier and dirtier. We are picking up crumbs and pieces of things with our hands. I buy a trash-picking stick to save time. We are drowning in thread.

The Dustbuster isn't bad. It picks things up. It reaches the crevices along the wall where GodKnowsWhat hides contently in its bunker, thinking itself irremovable and permanent. I finally admit that our vacuum has no intention of picking anything up. Loose thread or not. 

GodKnowsWhat - Noun - Definition: the accumulative growth of strange and mysterious crumb-like things, threads, dirt, pieces of food, and unknown substances intelligent enough to prolong survival by hiding indiscreetly along walls just beyond the reach of modern vacuuming capabilities. If laziness is not a factor, the vacuumer is capable of removing GodKnowsWhat through the use of vacuum attachments.

Weird small pieces of stuff and things continue to pile up on the carpet. The Dustbuster is our last defense.

My back is tired from Dustbusting. We need a new vacuum. Guests can tell, or so I suspect. We are being talked about behind closed doors and in secret conversations. I feel the need to explain the situation when company comes over. 

We're not dirty.
It's the vacuum.
The carpet is ancient.

I vacuum the full-scale square-footage of the big blue carpet with the Dustbuster. Everything is now Dustbustable. It is the last remaining tool that works. The vacuum is donated because I don't know where else vacuums are supposed to go.   

Another Bed Bath & Beyond coupon is plucked from the stack. We go together. The two of us circle the store as if there is not a moment to lose. There really isn't. This is a time-critical operation.

We investigate, confer, peruse, and eventually settle. It is purple and glorious. It is called a Shark. It means business. We nod in agreement. This is our future.  

One vacuum, please.
Do you have a coupon?
I have a coupon.

The Shark is tenacious. It lives to clean carpet, to ingest the sweet chummy mix of threads, crumbs, and filth. Look at that! It picks up everything. You can see where it all goes into the removable canister.  

We HAVE been living in filth. No surprise there. I feel lighter. I'm dancing a little bit. I have to empty the canister twice. I point at it as Amanda cooks in the kitchen. Thumbs up. A thread-free big blue carpet life is upon us. It feels great.

There are attachments, accessories. I eye the crevices along the walls. This is it: the end of the GodKnowsWhat that lurks in those tiny little perpendicular angles. I vacuum the kitchen. The bathroom. Soon I advance upon the walls and ceilings. I vacuum inside closets and cupboards, under the couch and beneath the cushions. I do the apartment complex hallway for good measure. The refrigerator is done. I empty the canister again. What's next? Days pass. 

Eventually, the Dustbuster loses all relevance and is retired to the donation pile. It still works. But there are attachments now. At best, the Dustbuster is redundant. The Shark rules the roost around here. The big blue carpet is fresh and while not quite new looking it would take a trained eye to classify it as ready to be replaced. 

Years pass. I forget about things like threads and crevices. These concepts move on and make room for other things. And then, one winter morning I spot a piece of fuzz.

What's that?
A fuzz?
What's a fuzz?

Fuzz is fuzz. It starts after Christmas. There are suspicions that the new slippers are responsible.

I see the fuzz on the big blue carpet. No big deal. But the next day there are two pieces of fuzz. And then three.

Soon the fuzz is multiplying too fast for us to keep up. Throw the fuzz away and four more pieces take its place. I remember this. This is the string. The threads. Now it's the fuzz.

The Shark is old, poorly maintained, fast becoming a relic. The carpet is fighting back now. The crevices are filling up. The blasted crevices. I should have taught myself at least the basics of vacuum maintenance. Too late now. 

Then one day I see a piece of string. Except that, it's really a thread. There are thread AND fuzz now.

The old Shark tries its best, but it's not working - it's not enough. The walls and ceilings are covered in dusty webs. The refrigerator hasn't been vacuumed in weeks. The GodKnowsWhat is throwing cocktail parties and shooting off fireworks from the safety of the crevices.   

A new game plan is in order. Amanda reminds me to skip the Dustbuster this time. Unfortunately, due to poor judgement I go right for a cheaper, electrically-charged and cordless version of the Shark.  

One cordless vacuum, please.
Do you have a coupon?
I have a coupon.

This Shark is mobile. No wires necessary. It also lacks bulk, and I can guide it to places the old Shark could not go. I seamlessly switch to the tiles in the kitchen and walk my way down the hall and do the bedroom. Not bad. It looks ... OK.

But several weeks pass, and there is still more fuzz and several threads and they seem to shrug off this new Shark like it's no big deal.

Worse, there are no attachments, no accessories. I must use the old Shark for the crevices, for the ceilings. But the old Shark is tired and again, poorly maintained. It heats up, too much. Sometimes it just shuts off completely. 

Before I know it, I've developed and accepted a two-prong Shark vacuum strategy just to clean the apartment. There is a vacuum charging in the living room and then another sitting in the closet.

The threads and fuzz and GodKnowsWhat now control the apartment. Amanda suggests the obvious. No more Dustbusters. No more cordless chargeable vacuums. It's time.

One vacuum, please.
Do you have a coupon?
I have a coupon.

This vacuum is called the Rocket. It is another Shark. The third Shark in several years. It is beautiful.


It is modern and sleek and can do even more things than all of our past purchases combined. I almost bought the same one we had before. But Amanda saw this one. She saw something in it that I could not. She saw the potential. And she was right.  

It works. It is ultralight. Ultra amazing. It COMES with a crevice tool. It even describes it as such on the box. Swivel steering. Floor-to-ceiling cleaning potential. Ergonomic handle. And did I mention: two speeds? Two. Fast and faster. A car detail kit. Wall mount. Accessory bag. Upholstery tool. I'm swimming in accessories.

The canister fills up. Again. And again. The dirt is gone. Goodbye, thread. Goodbye, fuzz.

The crevices are in danger of being pristine. It is a relief. The old two-prong vacuum strategy system is donated. We have only one vacuum now. I'm learning about maintenance and filters that need to be cleaned on the regular.

I can relax. From our pale green couch, I look out into that deep blue ocean of carpet, and it looks better than okayish, it looks almost just slightly-used. No strings. No threads. No fuzz. No GodKnowsWhat.

Just a great big blue carpet.


For now at least. For now.  

In Tags ,