By Jill Pertler
Years ago, someone at our house (okay, me) gave my husband the nickname, “Hoover,” and like a piece of toilet paper on a tennis shoe in a restaurant bathroom, the name stuck. He remains our Hoover to this day.
The name doesn’t come from a reference to the U.S. president or from the first director of the FBI, although they would be first-rate role models from which to borrow a nickname.
Both of those Hoovers had formidable beginnings.
Herbert Hoover nearly died at age 2, lost his father at age 6 and was an orphan by age 9. He never graduated from high school, but studied at night school and later attended Stanford University. By the time he was 40, he was a self-made millionaire and great humanitarian. He later became the 31st President of the United States, among other things.
J. Edgar Hoover stuttered as a child and was rejected when he tried out for the football team because he was too small. He graduated as valedictorian of his class, but lacked the money needed for college and was unable to attend. Instead, he worked and took night classes to pursue a law degree. By the ripe young age of 29, he was the director of the FBI, a position he held for 48 years under eight presidents.
Despite their last names, and penchant for achievements, Herbie and Eddie were not related. Nor is either of these men linked in any way to the source of my husband’s nickname, which stems from the Hoovers of suction fame.
When we refer to Hoover® at our house, we aren’t talking about a man; we are talking about a machine. A super cyclonic, mega suction, amped with amps, deep down cleaning appliance.
My husband is a vacuum. Well, he’s like a vacuum. I guess. It’s more simile than metaphor.
He doesn’t actually have a suction tube attachment; he simply gets rid of stuff. It’s beyond straightening or de-cluttering. He throws non-garbage away. (At least I deem it to be non-garbage.) I guess it’s because he gets more joy out of having things debris-free than he does of having things in general.
I get his point. To a point.
Except we have differing definitions of debris. I will walk across the house, through three rooms and down an entire staircase to save one errant Lego. I repurpose aluminum cans and Popsicle sticks. I don’t knowingly throw away rubber bands or twist ties. I have a plastic bag I use to house plastic bags. I call my actions frugal (smart, even); my husband calls them clutter.
So he hooves and I occasionally check the contents of our garbage to see if there’s anything worth saving. (Yes, I just confessed to rummaging through the garbage.)
My husband keeps me from being a total hoarder; I keep him from being a total hoover. After twenty-something years of marriage, I’ve learned that debris-free is often a good place to be. He’s learned it’s okay to reuse aluminum foil in a pinch and together we manage to keep what we need and get rid of what we don’t.
And after all this time, we’ve never hoovered each other, which fits perfectly with the vacuum company’s slogan: “I love my Hoover.”
Which I do. His hooving inclinations have grown on me over the years; and I wholeheartedly admit that not having him around well, that would suck.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.