Thursday, August 16, 2007

I Can Fix That!

The smell of burning rubber permeated the house. The high pitched squealing accelerated higher and higher by the second. The low, rumbling motor struggled to maintain its wheezing efforts at efficiency. The cats, wide-eyed and puffy, attempted a desperate, furtive escape from the living room. The children came spurting down the stairs, holding their noses and loudly voiced extreme disapproval of my continued actions. I, on the other hand, had never been happier. I knew that finally, and with absolutely no regret whatsoever, I had killed my vacuum cleaner.

My vacuum was purchased for $99.99 from the Navy Exchange department store in Orlando, Florida in 1988. This vacuum did not have a HEPA filter or an air flow rating. It could not lift a bowling ball. It did not come with a crevice tool, a telescopic wand or a dusting attachment. It never had an upholstery nozzle, suction control grips or height adjustment. My vacuum did not resemble a wind tunnel nor was it self propelled. And my vacuum was most definitely not a self programming, rechargeable disc that could wander my house, at any time of my choosing, searching for stray pieces of lint to suck up. In fact, my simple, cheap vacuum was so old that it was becoming almost impossible to find the internal bags for the outdated beast. And at last, thankfully, it was dead.

As I opened the windows to get some of the burning rubber smell out of the house I became giddy. I rushed upstairs and started researching new vacuums on the internet. I had just picked out the Cadillac of vacuums, full of spectacular and absolutely necessary features when he walked in the door. The husband was home.

I ran downstairs to tell him the fabulous news. He hung up his coat, went to the bathroom and then walked into the living room to take a look at the vacuum. I assured him that it was most certainly, quite broken. I then proceeded to provide irrefutable evidence by demonstrating the smelling and squealing and rumbling and wheezing qualities our vacuum now possessed. As I started to recount the spectacular and absolutely necessary features of the new Cadillac vacuum I had decided upon as a replacement, the husband got down on the ground and turned the old vacuum over. As I tried to shove a picture of my new beautiful appliance in his face, the husband went to the garage to get a screwdriver…or something. When he returned, he started taking the old vacuum apart. After about 23 seconds he turned to me and said, “Oh! I see what the problem is. I can fix that!”

I had to sit down. I was devastated. The husband then tried to explain to me what was wrong with our vacuum cleaner. “You can see here that the blah, blah, blah has become wrapped around the blah, blah, blah. And it’s obvious that the blah, blah, blah has also come lose and has jammed the blah, blah, blah. So all I have to do is move the blah, blah, blah over here, unwrap the blah, blah, blah from the blah, blah, blah and it should be as good as new.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised. I should have anticipated this outcome. I was feeling fairly foolish for thinking the broken vacuum would be beyond repair. You see, in my house the husband has a history of fixing things up. It started when he was young and found an old, broken TV in his parents’ garage. Before the afternoon was over he had become the only boy on his block with a working TV in his tree house. When he was in college he took a road trip to California. When the throttle pedal unexpectedly dropped to the floor, causing his old ’69 Plymouth Valiant to accelerate uncontrollably, the husband rationally shut off the car and came to a stop. He lifted the hood, retrieved the broken carb return spring, miraculously produced a pair of pliers…or something, bent a new hook in the spring and was back on the road in less than 3 minutes.

The husband’s MacGyver like qualities continued after we were married. It is a rare day when something in our house breaks and needs to be replaced. Over the years I have looked forward to getting many new items only to have the husband fix the broken one so that we no longer could justify replacing it. I’ve been denied the joy of shopping for a new weed eater, a CD jogger, a book lamp, an MP3 player, a backyard fence, a refrigerator icemaker, a dishwasher door, a lawnmower, a lawn sprinkler and a bedroom window. He’s fixed a car CD player, a box fan, a cell phone, a necklace, a garbage disposal and many computer components. And, of course, he has kept cars running for thousands of miles past when they should have died. He’s even denied the children new things by fixing broken Fisher Price toys, slot cars, electric trains, BRIO trains, and has most recently repaired the rivets on the almost a teenager’s jeans. All of these items were absolutely believed to be broken beyond repair-except by the husband who saw them as a challenge.

My vacuum is now fixed and is “as good as new”. I’ve accepted the fact that I may never get to own the Cadillac of vacuums. I’ve learned that with a little searching, I can even find my vacuum bags on the internet. I have also learned, however, that the husband’s ability to fix anything just might work in my favor as well. A few weeks ago, I walked in the door and was greeting by a giddy husband telling me that the old, ugly, boxy TV had finally blown up. He had run downstairs to tell me the fabulous news. I hung up my coat, went to the bathroom and then walked into the living room to take a look at the TV. He assured me that it was most certainly, quite broken. He then proceeded to provide irrefutable evidence by turning the now unresponsive TV on and off. As he started to recount the spectacular and absolutely necessary features of the new, big, flat screen TV he had decided upon as a replacement, I went behind the TV and took a look at the back of it. As he tried to shove a picture of his new, beautiful flat screen in my face, I went into the kitchen to get a snack. When I returned, I put my feet up on the coffee table and started eating. After about 23 seconds I turned to the husband and said, “Oh honey, I understand what the problem is with the TV. But, I have absolutely no doubt that you can fix that!”

Check This Out!

Someday when you aren’t on a diet try Fried Polenta.

Gradually whisk 1 ¾ cups yellow cornmeal into 6 cups boiling, salted water. Reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons butter. Spread three cups of the polenta in an 11x17 inch baking dish, sprayed with PAM, to about ¾ inch thick. Refrigerate for two hours. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut refrigerated polenta into 1x2 inch pieces and fry in oil, about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the oven on a baking dish until all batches are done. Sprinkle warm polenta pieces with parmesan and serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

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