Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, combined with PMS and a slight hangover, but I woke up feeling like I had to do something- anything -"worthwhile" so I could prove to myself that my life wasn’t a total waste. Looking around, that task would have to be cleaning the house, a chore I not only loathed and dreaded but also was no good at, anyway. I mean, I've been blessed with a lot of talents but housework is definitely not one of them.
Dragging my pathetic carcass into action, I washed a week's worth of scummy dishes. Filled with a sense of responsibility and accomplishment, I decided that vacuuming would be in order. No sooner had I started, the vacuum bag burst, scattering who knows how many month's worth of condensed dust-bunnies, cat hair, and general filth all over the room.
I went to the pantry and knocked over a bunch of seldom-used and haphazardly stored cleaning products, though unfortunately, there were no vacuum cleaner bags among them. But I was on a mission, goddamit, so that meant I had to go and get some. Popping a couple of Midol and fortifying myself with a shot of tequila, I walked to the store. It was unbearably humid and the moment I got outside my allergies started acting up, causing my
eyes and nose to run.
I made it to the store, sneezing and wheezing, with period cramps from hell, but of course they didn't have the right kind of bags. A clerk suggested I try a hardware store that was fairly close by. "Close" turned out to be seven L-O-N-G blocks in the glaring noonday sun. Sweating and sniffing, I got lost in the maze of faucets, toilet tank covers, lighting fixtures, fan belts, screws, nuts, bolts, and tools. The machine that grinds keys was whining at a supersonic volume, insulting my increasingly bad hangover, and the entire place smelled like some lethal solvent. Even though the store was incredibly crowded, there were no salespeople in sight.
Finally, after about twenty minutes of mindless wandering, I found the correct aisle by myself. I was so dazed at this point, I could barely remember what I was looking for in the first place. Luckily, a rotund, balding little man in a dirty gray smock came up to me, offering assistance. Even though he stunk like garlic and B.O., and had an abundance of hair sprouting from his ears and nostrils, I was happy to see him, feeling more like a damsel in distress with every passing, agonizing second. I told him what sort of vacuum bag I needed and he nodded sagaciously, pointing out possibilities, riffling through the bags displayed.
"You have an upright model then,” he said, as though I'd be pleased at his vast and all-encompassing knowledge.
"Yup," I said, monosyllabic by this time.
"I don't see the right kind of bags,” he said. "Do you?"
"No, that's what I was hoping you'd help me with,” I replied.
"Well… if you can't find them, then maybe you need a new vacuum cleaner."
"I don’t think so," I said. "My vacuum cleaner is brand new."
A few months ago, a department store had been foolish enough to send me a charge card, and I immediately went and bought all sorts of household items I never would've purchased with cash. I bought a particular vacuum cleaner because it had pale blue and purple New Wave splatters all over it, and was called The Boss. In a perverse way, I thought it would be hilarious to have an appliance named after Bruce Springsteen, even though I detested most of his music.
The troll didn't seem tounderstand, and pressed the issue.
"If you need a new vacuum cleaner, I have lots of them,” he said. "I repair vacuum cleaners. I have a whole garage full!"
"How great," I said vaguely, discreetly wiping allergy snot onto my sleeve.
"But my vacuum is brand new, I just need the right type of bag."
I was beginning to feel lightheaded and dizzy from the fumes inside the store. Who was I to think that cleaning the house on a Sunday morning would add any meaning to my life? What I really wanted was more Midol, a slushy margarita, a nice long foot rub and an afternoon filled with trashy 1940s movies.
A Valium would be nice, too, and maybe some Fritos. Oh, and a maid.
"I could get you a nice used vacuum," Rumplestiltskin continued. "I have lots of them!"
"I already told you,” I said, losing what little patience I had left, "I don't need one!"
Just then, I noticed two clerks standing at the end of the aisle. Both of them were young, tall, and lanky, wearing nametags and polo shirts as uniforms, which were emblazoned with the logo of the hardware store. They looked nothing like this horrible small old man in his greasy smock. He looked like an industrial-powered, perverted Munchkin.
Regarding him carefully, I noticed he wasn't wearing a nametag, either. His garlic breath singed my nostrils as he leaned in close and I noticed that his cheeks and scalp were covered with moles and liver spots as he on tiptoes to invade my personal space, getting right up in my face.
"I could help you," he said in an urgent whisper, stroking my arm and simultaneously raising a propositioning eyebrow meaningfully.
All of a sudden, the horrifying reality of the situation dawned on me and I couldn't control either my repulsion or my tone of voice, yelling at the top of my lungs,
"I'M NOT GONNA FUCK YOU FOR A VACUUM CLEANER!"
A few nearby customers whirled around and stared at us in shock. The little man winced at the volume, but stood his ground for a second before scurrying away in humiliation, his pick-up attempt foiled. I laughed dementedly at my own outburst as the other customers pretended that nothing out of the ordinary had happened…just another day in Hollywood.
On the way home, I rented a couple of vintage movies and grabbed some margarita mix. The pile of filth in my living room sat there for, oh, a couple of weeks, I guess.
The story you’ve just read is from my book, Escape From Houdini Mountain. Get the kindle version here:
If you’d like me to sign the paperback edition for you, or sign my
latest book, Showgirl Confidential: My Life Onstage, Backstage And On The Road , click here and scroll down to find both titles: