Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My vacuum bag drug deal: why writers shouldn't go out in public

So apparently, vacuum cleaners require bags. Who knew?

Probably anyone who does more vacuuming than me, which is…well, most people.

Given my husband’s obsession with the Shop-vac, I don’t do a lot of vacuuming on my own. But recently, Pythagoras pointed out that (a) our Kirby vacuum cleaner has a bag, and (b) said bag was so full it resembled a misshapen piñata (though I was sad to discover it did not contain Tootsie rolls).

I went out to purchase new bags, only to learn that no one in our town of 85,000 has the same vacuum we do. Undeterred, I hopped online and found an eBay vendor who not only carried the bags, but lived right in our town.

What are the odds?

I fired off an email and received a response from a guy named Gary who said he didn’t have a storefront, but would be willing to meet me at the Moose Lodge.

Moose Lodge? I had never heard of it, but my friend Larie had. “Isn’t it that dark-looking building hidden behind the bushes down that narrow road past the Goodwill thrift store? It looks a little shady.”

Shady indeed. I showed up fifteen minutes before my scheduled meeting with Gary, pretty sure I was about to be kidnapped. I called Larie from my cell.

“I think it’s a setup,” I whispered.

“Cool. Can I have your peridot earrings if you die?”

I hung up and assessed my surroundings, looking for an escape route. Was that a mobster dressed in all black at the front of the building?

I squinted at him. OK, so he was about 75 and was moving with the aid of a walker, but still. That bulge under his shirt could be a pistol and not a colostomy bag.

I looked at the opposite end of the parking lot. Did that car just flash its headlights to signal the guy standing by the dumpster?

A man exited the building and aimed something at the car. I started to duck.

Then I realized it was a keyfob. The headlights flashed once more as the guy disarmed his alarm.

I looked back at the dumpster guy just in time to see him empty the trash.

By the time Gary showed up, I was on high alert. As his car glided to a halt beside mine, I fumbled for something I could use as a weapon. Carefully, I stepped out of the car and stood to face him.

“Are you Gary?”

He nodded, his gray beard brushing the collar of his golf shirt. “What’s the plastic fork for?”



He reached inside his coat and pulled out…vacuum cleaner bags.

What a letdown.

“That’ll be 20 bucks,” he said.

I pulled out a $20 bill and handed it to him. I reached for the vacuum bags, braced for him to grab my wrist and whip out a switchblade.

But he just gave them to me. I couldn’t believe it.

“This feels sort of like a drug deal,” I said, looking around the parking lot.

Gary stared at me. “Huh?”

“Nothing, I just – I’m a writer. Overactive imagination.”

“Right,” he said, taking a few steps back. “Well, I’m going to play Bingo now. If you need more vacuum bags, give me a call.”

I watched him retreat, wondering if “vacuum bags” was a code word for something. I looked down at the package in my hands.

Vacuum bags.

What a bummer.


Patty Blount said...


Claire Dawn said...

Lol! Whoda thunk going for vacuum bags could be so adventurous?

PS Not all vacuums have bags, so you can always claim you never had one with a bag before.

Anonymous said...


??? said...

LOL. You know, most normal people would be very grateful that Gary wasn't a sleazy crime lord. Sadly, I can't claim to be one of those people. Think of all the wonderful stories you could tell if he-! *shuts up before the Cosmos put a horrible curse on her*

Unknown said...

OMG, kindred spirit...
I stalked some poor slob at 7-Eleven, thinking he was planning on holding up the store because he came in all nervous and jumpy. Imagine my dismay when he simply exited with a Super-sized Slurpy for his pregnant wife in the car. Oopsie doodle.

Unknown said...

ha! i read 'mobster' twice before i realized it did not say 'molester' what a let down. I was going to ask how you knew to spot them. I might be able to use you the next time i decide to stake out my scary neighbor!

Penelope said...


I'm glad you had the plastic fork, just in case. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

LOL! Only a writer or a small child could pull off a story like that! I love it. :-)

Candyland said...

Hahahaha. Oh Tawna. Your social prowess never ceases to amaze. And always makes for a good story. First LOL today:)

(Hi Michelle. In case you're watching...always watching)


Patty, it is always my pleasure to amuse you :)

Claire Dawn, no kidding? I'd probably have to pay more than $10 at a yard sale to get one without bags though, huh?

slushpilehero, does it make me weird that I actually counted the number of "HAs" in that sentence? Nine.

Syndee, I'm pretty sure Gary really was a sleazy crime lord. I just didn't catch him in the act.

Misty, LOL on the guy getting a Slurpee for his pregnant wife. Well, technically he could have held the place up while she waited in the car.

Karla, he certainly could have been a molester, too! You just never know.

Penelope, I am fierce with my fork.

Shannon, it's possible not everyone is amused by my overactive imagination. I do embarrass my husband from time to time (read: constantly).

Candyland, thanks for the reminder that I should be sure to state in the comments that my agent is beautiful and talented and has such nice hair.

Thanks for reading, guys!

Southpaw said...

Brilliant post!

Unknown said...


I wonder if my vacuum cleaner needs bags? Where is my vacuum cleaner? I haven't seen it in a l o n g time...

Anonymous said...

LMAO! Sometimes that active imagination isn't the greatest thing when it works against you, eh? Thanks, Tawna :)

Theresa Milstein said...

I laughed the whole way through this. My instinct is to offer my sympathy that something more sinister/exciting didn't go down.

Shannon said...

You crack me up Tawna. Thanks for the laugh.

It's comforting to know that I am not alone in my social awkwardness. Someday I'll share the story of when I inadvertently insulted Paul Reubens (PeeWee Herman) at a salad bar.

Oh, and have you actually used the vacuum since scoring the bags?

Anonymous said...

Interesting Story. Throughout the end of this post, I could just see the guys face and the bewilderment there...

Great stuff here Tawna.


Southpaw, why thank you! I don't know how brilliant I really am, but I'll go ahead and take credit.

Nicole, vacuuming is highly overrated anyway. No need to look for yours.

danicaavet, my imagination has been getting me into trouble since pre-school when I yelled at the other kids for trying to use the swings when my imaginary friends were on them.

Theresa, yeah, I'm still kinda bummed nobody turned out to be a criminal. There's always next time.

Shannon, I DID actually use the vacuum bags! Er, well, I tried. I didn't actually put it on properly, so it sort of exploded off the machine. That's a good way to get the husband to take over.

Daryl, I'm guessing Gary now has me flagged on his caller-ID and will think twice about answering any more calls for vacuum bags.

Thanks for reading, guys!

Cynthia Reese said...

Tawna, you are an adrenaline junkie if I ever knew one! (This lovingly comes from the woman who plays "detective" with The Kiddo and follows cars randomly to while away time until an appointment. Most women would just take needlepoint or a crossword puzzle. Not me and The Kiddo.)

Deborah Small said...

LOL! You are too funny. I'm so glad you don't have a Dyson. *g*

Anonymous said...

What an adventure! Loved it.

Also appreciate that it reminded me that my vacuum bag looks like a pinata, too, because it hasn't been changed since before Halloween.
Which means there's a good chance there actually *is* a Tootsie Roll or two in it...

abby mumford said...

you sure do know how to make even those mundane moments of life hilarious. i can't wait for the post on brushing your teeth. it might end up with you on a unicycle brandish a plastic spork.

abby mumford said...


Linda G. said...

You always make me laugh! So, when we get together, we should send TG & Pythagoras off to discuss (play with, fondle, caress, etc.) shop vacs while we head out for drinks. ;)

Keri Stevens said...

I just bought 360 vacuum bags off ebay myself, but I had them safely shipped to my home because I know the dangers of Moose Lodges.

At the rate I vacuum, I'll have vacuum bags for the next six years. Or 16 years.


Cynthia, that's the great thing about having a writer's imagination, isn't it? Endless entertainment!

Deborah, a Dyson? Is that a vacuum cleaner or a male underwear model? If it's the latter, I want one. If the former, no thank you!

wellversedmom, dibs on that vacuum bag Tootsie roll!

mumfusa, good idea on the toothbrushing blog post. I'm adding it to my list right now!

Linda G, I'm in for the drinks, and I'm certain Pythagoras is up for the Shop-vac fondling.

Keri, gotta love eBay for those vacuum bags. I'm pretty sure I have a lifetime supply now as well (which is a shame, since I'd really like to see Gary again!)

Thanks for reading, guys!

Anonymous said...

LMAO! I was laughing so hard here at my desk! Everyone keeps asking me if Im okay. That was the best post evah!!!!!

India Drummond said...

Yes, Tawna, a Dyson is bagless vacuum. They're pretty wonderful, actually, and I'm not one who usually cares that much about appliances.

Great post though. I too scare strangers by letting my mouth run away with my imagination.

Christi Goddard said...

I could never get the damn vacuum bag on right, so I bought a bagless vacuum. Then I got a house with wood floors. I drag it out every six months or so and vacuum my three hall rugs.

Do you even have carpet?

Liz Czukas said...


Too bad you didn't have a spork--that would be the only thing that would make the story more hilarious!

Thanks for a serious laugh.

- Liz

Anonymous said...

I didn't know vacuums were still made with bags!

Jennifer X said...

This would have been funnier with a spork. You need a biography with short stories like these. Oh wait...BLOG...duh! What did Pythagoras think?

Margaret M. Fisk said...

LOL! And what's scary is as you're describing the setup, even knowing you wouldn't post if it had gone bad, I was right there with you. It wouldn't have surprised me at all if an unmarked police car accosted you on the other side :).


OfficeGirl, as always, I'm pleased to disrupt your work environment!

India, I liked the idea of a Dyson much better when I thought it might be a male erotic dancer.

Christi, we do have a couple small areas of carpet, but it's mostly all tile. We sometimes vacuum the tile instead of sweeping. I prefer the real vacuum, but am usually overruled by my husbande and his Shop-vac.

Liz, note to self: obtain spork for all future self defense needs.

Xuxana, I'm not in the habit of buying new vacuums. Mine all come from yard sales :)

Jennifer X, Pythagoras was unconcerned for my safety, but was pleased with the deal on vacuum bags.

Margaret, it really did feel kinda like an illicit deal of some sort!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Dianne K. Salerni said...


Being a writer makes ordinary life more adventurous. It's a shame the people with whom we interact do not always tune in to our fantasy version of reality!

Anne said...

My stomach hurts from laughing. Especially since it is already crammed with grapes and chicken.

Girl Fren' said...

Gawd! A funny woman who drinks and buys vac bags from an elderly Bingo-playing drug dealer! Wanna be my new bff?