The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 1, 2012

Tom Lavis | Springing into action – almost


— Another first day of spring has come and gone.

When March comes in like a lion, I’m usually hiding in my basement doing man things.

This year, the unseasonably warm weather has had a negative effect on my spring routine.

My wife informed me that she would need help with spring cleaning.

Little did I know that my chance to help would soon occur.

It all started when I received an order from a sporting goods store.

The item I received was packed in Styrofoam.

In my haste to tear off the packaging, the crating material exploded in my hands and small bits of white stuff were scattered on the living room floor.

It was a real mess. I’m glad my wife wasn’t home to see the litter.

For a guy who has been married for nearly 40 years, I have to admit that I have made every attempt to avoid any sort of housework.

But I made this mess and it was up to me to clean it up.

I was going to use duct tape to pick up the hundreds of small pieces. I thought winding duct tape around my hand with the sticky side up would do the trick.

But I got a brilliant idea. I went to the kitchen pantry to look for the vacuum cleaner.

I remembered seeing my wife go into the pantry and minutes later heard the sound of a cleaning tool.

The only thing I saw was a small, handheld cleaning device used for vacuuming the floor mats in the car. It was too small for my mess.

After pondering my dilemma and stopping at the refrigerator to get a swig of diet soda from a two-liter bottle (I told you my wife wasn’t home), I went to the hall closet to see if she kept the vacuum cleaner there.

Yep, I found it.

After unraveling the cord and plugging it into an outlet, I went to work.

One problem though, I didn’t know how to turn on the machine.

Laugh if you will, but I’m serious. I looked for a toggle switch, like the last vacuum cleaner I ran about 20 years ago.

There was a foot peddle at the base of the machine, which I was sure would activate the motor. Stepping on the peddle allowed me to drop the handle to an operating position.

I jiggled hoses, moved the attachments around looking for the on button and left the room to get another swig of soda.

Returning to the living room, I told myself this shouldn’t be so hard.

In this high-tech age, perhaps if I depressed the handle in some fashion, the machine would come to life.

Squeezing the handle as hard as I could, nothing happened except a painful hand cramp.

It was then that I noticed a flat piece of plastic on the top of the handle.

Could this be the switch?

I tried sliding the flat button forward; nothing happened.

In disgust, I placed my thumb on the slide and drew it toward me.

Voila! There was suction.

It was at that moment that my wife walked through the door with a look of panic on her face.

She said something, but I couldn’t hear her over the noise of the upright.

Like a pro, I placed my right thumb on the slide and turned off the machine.

“Did you say something, Dear?” I asked.

“Is something wrong?” she said.

I explained I was cleaning up the mess I made.

Her response was predictable.

Even before removing her jacket, she grabbed the vacuum and went to work.

After she was through, I asked her if she thought I couldn’t handle the simple chore.

“I think men just play dumb when it comes to cleaning,” she said.

She then accused me of not being able to spell broom.

“B-r-u-m,” I said.

“Dodging household cleaning is an art and you’re a regular Picasso,” she said.


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