What’s In a Vacuum? (A Dialogue.)

posted in: Plays 11
Not pictured: My actual vacuum, my actual carpet. Photo: Wikipedia
Not pictured: My actual vacuum, my actual carpet, my actual wall treatment. Photo: Wikipedia


WOMAN: Every time I get you out, Vacuum, I think about my life.

VACUUM: Do you have to?

WOMAN: Look at this carpet.

VACUUM: No, I mean, do you have to think about your life? Plenty of people do housework without thinking about life. It probably makes the work go faster if you don’t.

WOMAN: (She turns the dining room chairs upside down and places them on the table.) I don’t try to think about my life when I vacuum. I don’t say to myself, “Time for housework, let’s think about life.” It just happens. For example, when I put the chairs up on the table like this, it reminds me of my first job.

VACUUM: I didn’t know you then. I probably wasn’t even born then.

WOMAN: Watch it.

VACUUM: Seriously, was I around when you were 14?

WOMAN: No, you probably weren’t. You’re a very sleek Miele Jazz, in case you didn’t know and though I enjoy looking up obscure facts on the internet, I just can’t get that excited about looking up when you were first made. (Pause.) Well, now I’m curious.

(The WOMAN stops moving furniture and goes to her desktop computer. She stands there for some minutes, clicking and reading.) 

VACUUM: Anything?

WOMAN: Miele has been making vacuums in Germany —


WOMAN: — since 1927, but I think your model first came on the scene in 2009. This is so pointless. What was I saying?

VACUUM: Your first job.

WOMAN: Right. My real first job was at the little diner in my small town. As soon as I was 14, I went in and asked if I could be a waitress there.

VACUUM: That’s kind of romantic.

WOMAN: Ha! Spoken like true non-sentient being. Waitressing is not romantic, especially at a small-town diner where you’re running biscuits and gravy to hungry farmers from 6:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. and burning yourself on the Bunn-O-Matic coffee maker fifty times a day.

VACUUM: Fifty times?

WOMAN: (Narrowing her eyes at the VACUUM.) Yes. Fifty times.

VACUUM: Literally fifty times a day, you burned yourself on —

WOMAN: Like I was saying, it’s not a romantic job but I do think fondly of it, now. When I put chairs up on the table like this to prep for vacuuming, whenever I mop a floor, I think back on the Northside Cafe and I feel… Nostalgic, I guess. I learned a lot there. (Beat.) Maybe you’re right; maybe I am conferring some romance on the experience. Maybe I’m in a nostalgic mood. Or a romantic mood — romantic in the classical sense, I mean. Does that even make sense? “Romantic in the classical sense?”

VACUUM: I’m not sure. You mean like —

(The WOMAN starts to cry.)

VACUUM: Woah, woah. What’s wrong?

WOMAN: I’m talking to my vacuum!


WOMAN: There’s something seriously wrong with me.

VACUUM: It’s not bad to talk to me. I think it’s great. I felt really lonesome in the pantry. I was hoping you would vacuum this weekend and look, here you are, getting ready to vacuum. I love the memory you’re shared with me about your job. You’re making me feel really important.

WOMAN: (Sniffs, wipes her nose on her sleeve.) Really?


WOMAN: Well, that’s… Great. That’s great. (She looks around her living room.) You… You wanna do this thing?

VACUUM: Yep, fire me up.

(The WOMAN and the VACUUM vacuum the apartment and it looks great when they’re done.)


11 Responses

  1. Dayna Williamson
    | Reply

    love it! I talk to mine too except it goes something like”’you missed that piece of fur! What???Are you all choked up again? I told you to chew before you inhale!

  2. Susan
    | Reply

    Makes me think how I abuse my poor friendly vacuum by making it suck up all those stray threads that then must be surgically removed from its innocently hardworking beater bar…

  3. Qlt812
    | Reply

    Love your story!

  4. Nadine donovan
    | Reply

    Hahahahahahaha! I so enjoyed this!!! I have a Miele also- love it. Funny……. I have to vacuum and mop today also

  5. Lisa Gainey Floyd
    | Reply

    I am rolling! I personally used to turn the radio up to some jazz, old 50s rock or pop or country and clean house. But, now I just try to make it thru the day without breaking something! Literally! As I sit here with a broke fibula in a boot on my left foot and sew. Love you Mary. You are a hoot!

  6. Heather
    | Reply

    You’ve got a real knack for dialogue, Mary! Love it!

    ….also….hugs. Thanks for sharing yourself with us. <3

  7. Nancy McFall
    | Reply

    you have a cheeky vacuum, mine is more ” yeah sure, uh-huh, what ever you say”

  8. Catherine
    | Reply

    You are a riot Mary! I can read your writing all day. When I read your blog, I feel as though you right here next to me. Love it!

  9. Denise in PA
    | Reply

    My “thoughts about life” – typically sad, mostly about those who have passed on (miss my grandmother more now than when she passed 12 years go) – always happen when I’m cleaning the bathroom, mostly while scrubbing out the tub. I thought it was just me. o:)

  10. […] how I feel, you’ll leave me. You’ll stop listening. You’ll forget Pendennis and plays about vacuums; you’ll not send any letters, now, and you’ll say, “Ugh! I knew it!” Worse […]

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