b Papa Dog's Blog: Roomba!

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005


When I watch my stories on the teevee, I generally do it on videotape – watching shows live a) takes longer on account of the commercial advertisements and b) is pretty much impossible to do anyway, what with prime time and (baby) bedtime tending to overlap most infelicitously. For a while, I was putting in my time before the box between 10 p.m. and midnight, after chores were done, after Mama Dog had turned in, long after Baby Dog had wrapped herself around her piggy doll and gone to sleep. Whatever I was taping would generally end at ten, so I could rewind and watch an hour show in about 45 minutes, zipping over commercials and credits. Staying up to midnight and getting up at 6 a.m. started to catch up with me, though, and it was hard to justify sleep deprivation for the sake of canned entertainment. I shifted my teevee time to weekends and Wednesdays, during Baby Dog’s nap time.

One habit I developed stuck with me. To avoid the temptation of getting snagged by some live program when I stopped playing the tape, I’d keep the teevee tuned to some channel that couldn’t possibly arrest my attention. Anything infomercial-ly or ridiculously dry was best. The TV Guide Channel worked well. I doubt even the families of people who work for CSPAN 2 watch CSPAN 2. Best, though, was the Home Shopping Channel. I buy things, yes, but I’m not a shopper. I go out looking for a particular thing, I find it, I pay for it, I go home. Better yet, I go to the website and click on it and don’t even have to leave the building. Browsing is contrary to my nature. In all the months I’ve been using the Home Shopping Channel as my video stop test pattern, nothing on it has ever registered enough in my consciousness for me to know what was being flogged…until Sunday afternoon. That’s when I saw the Roomba.

I had seen one of these gizmos before, as a joke on Arrested Development (Lucille fires the maid and replaces her with one), but hadn’t realised it was a new thing. Haven’t there always been robot vacuums? I guess this is just a better one. Anyway, I found myself transfixed by the demo on the Home Shopping Channel. How? How could this be? Well, it could be largely because I’m the one who’s the designated vacuumer these days and there are few jobs more inherently demoralizing than being the designated vacuumer for a house occupied by a large and thick-coated dog. No sooner do I have the living room fit for human habitation than it’s magically re-coated with balls of Doggy Dog dander. If I had a robot to do the work for me, though…hmmm…. I was soon lost in a Homer Simpson fantasy involving little robot vacuum cleaners whirling around, dancing to a calypso tune as they sucked up fur and I sprawled on the couch eating dough-nuts.

“You know what we could use?” I said to Mama Dog. “We could use a Roomba.” She looked blankly at me, so I explained what a Roomba was. At such moments, Mama Dog can turn surprisingly curt. “We don’t need any more gadgets,” she said, with a tone of finality. “More gadgets?” I asked. “That implies we have some gadgets. What gadgets do we have?” As the words left my mouth, I thought, “Uh-oh, she’s going to mention the popcorn popper.” “The popcorn popper,” she said. Well, that’s nobody’s fault. How was I to know we’d both go on diets right after I bought it? “The two coffee makers,” she continued, “the food processor, the microwave.” She rattled off a bunch of food-prep items. Since I didn’t buy any of these and haven’t ever used any of them, I thought she was getting off topic, but I knew better than to say so. “The vacuum cleaner,” she said pointedly, leaving me with no available response other than “But…but….” See, the Roomba replaces the vacuum cleaner, which has done sterling duty these last seven years, but which is clearly pre-millennial and obsolete. It requires effort to operate, for god’s sake. There was no arguing with her, though. She’s decided for some reason to perceive our house as a gadget-cluttered hobby shop liable to collapse under the weight of one more Roomba. I kicked a bit of fur under the bed and hummed a bit of “Underneath the Mango Tree.” One day. One day.


Blogger Judy said...

I'm waiting to find someone who has one of these to find out the particulars on it. For instance, where does all the junk go that the Roomba picks up?

My son actually wants one - he thinks they are a toy!

9:44 PM  

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