One of my many talents is being a cleaning lady.

Though I grew up with live-in help (who thought to appreciate that at the time? Oh well) I haven’t had any help in my house for about 15 years. Husband #1 will tell you that he keeps telling me to get help, but I know the truth. Why pay someone when your wife will do it for free? (I guess that applies to several other situations that we cannot get into in a family paper.) In any event, I love being the martyr, and you can often hear me singing songs from the Cinderella soundtrack, as the cartoon birds and mice help me make the beds, do the laundry, and scrub the floors…

Truthfully, I love to vacuum. I love the sound the vacuum makes when it cleans up the crumbs from the carpet in the room that no one is supposed to bring food into. I love it when all of the dust bunnies get sucked up into oblivion. When I got married, a zillion years ago (ok, only 22, but if feels like a zillion) my in-laws bought me a vacuum cleaner from Sears (refrain from comment). This vacuum cleaner was a beast. I loved it. And he and I (yes, it was a boy vacuum) shared many wonderful times together.

When we first started together, before the boys, we would vacuum every day, so husband #1 would think I was the perfect homemaker. Then, when the babies came, my vacuum and I would clean up hundreds of cheerios and a variety of other baby-related messes. (Except for vomit, unfortunately.) We were a perfect team. All I would have to do was replace the vacuum bag every few months.

The years went on. We moved to our current home in Teaneck from our apartment in Englewood. My vacuum would be shlepped up the stairs and down the stairs, learning to acclimate to all of the different kinds of messes that come with living in a house and having three sons. (It was a wiz at cleaning up broken glass while the boys were instructed to stand on the couch in order to protect their cute little feet.) And then, one day, after almost 19 years, my beloved vacuum took its last breath. I brought it back to Sears in the hope that they could give my dear friend new life. But, alas, it was not meant to be. I was at a loss. I now had no vacuum.

Off to Bed, Bath and Beyond I begrudgingly went. I bought a new vacuum. It was lighter. It was supposed to be better, faster, and stronger. Three months later, I was back, returning it. (Always save your receipt.) And then we were on vacuum number two. It was even lighter; “more suction” it advertised. It came with 500 attachments. One attachment for pet hair, one for stairs, one for the ceiling, for corners, to trim trees, to cut your kids’ hair…. And I came to like this vacuum, though it could never replace the first one. (You never forget your first love, after all.) And that brings us to last week.

Son #3 was off for a snow day, but he went into the city with a friend, leaving me alone with my cartoon birds and mice to help me clean the house. I took the vacuum out from the closet and began to, well, vacuum, and after finishing up the family room, I shut it off and out came everything I had just vacuumed up. All over the carpet. That I had just vacuumed. I mentioned that son #3 was out of the house, which is relevant because the words that exited my mouth after the discharge of dust and crumbs and lord knows what else were not pleasant ones.

I found the instruction manual, called the customer helpline, and after 45 minutes of troubleshooting, the genius on the other end of the phone finally said, “Ma’am, do you still have your receipt?” The unpleasant words still floating out of my mouth, I gathered up the 500 attachments, took apart the vacuum, put everything back in the box, and off to BB&B I went.

My friend Peggy, at customer service, who I am convinced lives at the Paramus store because she is always there when I am there, looked at me sympathetically after I bored her with my tale of vacuum woes. And now I am the proud owner of a new, shiny, and pink vacuum. Yes, I finally have a girl, but she is a vacuum. With the receipt safely kept close by — but how bad can a pink vacuum be?

The moral of this story? Sears is out of business because they made one amazing vacuum…And I miss him every single day.

Happy cleaning

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is stocking up on kosher for Passover coffee cake mix because it seems that Drakes has stopped making husband #1’s beloved coffee cakes. His breakfast will never be the same.