Illustration by Jose Santana Firpo

Long Story Short: Clean Sweep

They wrote books about it. Or so I’ve been told. I read many books, but most of my page turners include interesting dialogue, inspirational scenes, informative history and—perhaps—a love interest or two. I read to escape, not to wallow in the mire of my reality. And certainly not to encourage me to better myself in certain areas. Good gracious. Like I need more guilt to lug around with my extra pandemic poundage.

But (so I hear) they write books about raising teenagers, and in these books by experts—no less—they suggest that it’s best to give teenagers a wide berth when it comes to the cleanliness of their rooms. It’s their domain, after all. They need privacy, and a place to call their own. “Not a hill to die on,” so they say. “It’s only for a season,” so they say. Wide berth.

I’m pretty sure that these so-called authors don’t have teenagers of their own. Or they’ve never walked into a dark bedroom to find baked macaroni-crusted bowls stacked atop dirty towels covering a desktop smattered with spilled fingernail polish in the color “To Infinity & Blue-Yond.” They’ve never opened their silverware drawer in the kitchen to discover three lonely salad forks and one last spoon holding on to the hope that its friends may return. Nope. My best guess is those spoons were thrown away like yesterday’s newspaper. Funny how silverware finds its way into the trash bin while actual trash—wrappers, containers, discarded loose leaf—is left to compost wherever it lands.

Not a hill to die on.

Which brings me to a possible solution. There is an amazing force available to the common man in certain situations that, when applied appropriately, could change the way that homes are cleaned forever. No. Good guess, but it’s not using the leaf blower on your interiors—a solution that I’ve considered. In fact, this tool might be even more powerful than that. I’ll give you a hint: If you aren’t careful, it will snatch up a not-fully-buckled-baby from a car seat, leaving you only a pacifier and a whole lot of “I wish I could take that moment back.”

That’s right. It’s the super-sonic, high-powered, suction-mouthed vacuums at your local car wash. Those tools will inhale almost anything in their paths, whether you want them to or not. Better clean out your car before you clean out your car, if you know what I mean. The super-sonic car vacuums really cut a wide berth.

Which is why we parents need the ultra-powerful, mega vacuums in our own homes. Imagine how easy it would be to simply aim the suction-mouth in the vicinity of the pile of refuse and ask forgiveness later. Time would be saved, rooms would be cleaned, anger would subside. There is something extremely satisfying about watching the car vacuums successfully clean out floorboards without even a sputter. No home vacuum can say the same. It waves the white flag as soon as it runs over a sock. Not the car vacuum. It sucks the sock right up and looks under the seat for candy.

I’m an idea person, not a designer, but I’m sure there are some engineer/entrepreneur types out there looking for the next-big-thing to create for the betterment of humanity. So here is your task: Create a mega-force, no clog, aggressive vacuum cleaner that is not only user friendly but also capable of gobbling up a teenage season full of cast-away items. I’ll be waiting.

The hill I’m dying on consists of a mound of damp towels and stale macaroni.