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There are certain articles that I have spent a lifetime trying to find in their perfect form. They aren't things that are abstract, mystical, or erudite. I'm not looking for the perfect life or the perfect romance or the perfect world. The perfect things I seek are generally practical and one would think, not impossible to find. With that said, I find it hugely unfathomable why I have not been able to find any of them.
Ever since I was old enough to carry one, I have been seeking the perfect purse. I hate carrying a purse, but I do most of the time. Clearly, I believe that I need everything that I am hauling around in one. I don't, of course, but I believe that I do with a certain amount of conviction, and as we all know, belief trumps reality every single time. I carry around a big wallet (another item I would like to find in its perfect form), although I rarely need more out of it than a little cash and my debit card, things I could easily keep in a pocket. I have a hairbrush I seldom use, (I brush my hair in the morning and forget about it for the rest of the day baring some environmental disaster), and I have numerous other items that I completely forget I have since I rarely need them. Nevertheless, I carry the stupid thing and I have thoroughly despised every one that I have ever owned. They have been inconvenient, uncomfortable, ugly, too big, too small, too complicated, too hard to open and close, the wrong design, the wrong color, and more wrong things too numerous to mention.
I have also continually sought the perfect hair style, firm in the belief that if I found the perfect hairdo I would never have to think about it or worry about it again, thus relieving myself of a great deal of hair anxiety and fuss. I have known women who found the perfect hairstyle and wore it that way their entire lives, looking as if any other hairstyle would be unthinkable. I, on the other hand, have had about a thousand hairstyles over the years and have been content with none of them.
Another perfect item I have sought diligently over the years is the perfect vacuum cleaner. I have had uprights and canisters and hand vacs and shop vacs, and none of them has ever approached perfection. Just after my first child was born I was home on maternity leave and dying of boredom. Jamie was an excellent baby and slept through the night from the time he came home from the hospital. He ate when he should, napped when he should, and was a perfect angel. I had a lot of free time on my hands, so when a vacuum salesman requested an audience with me, I jumped at the chance for diversion. He told me to vacuum the floors before he came with my current vacuum, which, although adequate, was the usual massive disappointment to me since it weighed as much as an overweight water buffalo who was retaining fluids. The salesman arrived with small, lightweight canister vacuum in tow. He put a new bag in it and proceeded to vacuum the rugs I had just vacuumed and vacuumed every day. When he was done he took out the bag, cut it open, and revealed to me the disgusting collection of dirt and hair and whatnot that was inside. I was horrified. It was obvious that my vacuum was an utterly useless noise making machine that sucked, or rather, to be precise, didn't suck.
“That's disgusting,” I told him.
“Well,” he said, “vacuums are one of those things that definitely live up to the 'you get what you pay for' rule.”
No kidding. My vacuum cleaner hadn't been cheap, but it performed cheaply. It was a travesty, a joke, an insult to cleanliness, and didn't deserve to call itself a vacuum. I asked him how much his vacuum cost. He gave me an obscene sum that made my jaw drop. I figured it was expensive, but the amount was jaw dropping, and this was back in 1983. He told me that I could make payments and that the vacuum was fully warranted for life and that it would last my lifetime. I was sold, but I had to consult with my husband. He was unimpressed with my impassioned plea for the magnificent vacuum and refused to buy it. Of course, my ex-husband was the kind of guy who would be perfectly okay with me taking out the rugs and beating them with a tennis racket if he thought it would save him money.
Life is irony. I had found the perfect vacuum cleaner and was thwarted by a price tag and my marriage to Ebenezer Scrooge. I no longer seek the perfect vacuum cleaner; I know it exists and is forever out of my reach. I did manage to ditch the cheap husband and I don't waste 10 seconds of my time looking for another. Age and experience have shown me that would be a quest a lot like looking for Big Foot; odds on he doesn't exist.
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