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By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

It seemed like a good idea in the moment. The clock on the oven read 7:00 p.m., and I wanted to watch the PBS News Hour on Channel 13. But I was also hungry. So I reached into the fridge and took out one of the smoothies I make in advance to last me the week. 

This one was in an open top container that I had covered with plastic wrap. I threw the cover in the trash, plunked a straw into the purple drink, picked up a coaster to rest the drink on and headed up the stairs to the television in the bedroom.

After switching on the overhead light, I picked up the remote, put the coaster on the bedside table, settled myself into the adjacent overstuffed chair and reaching over, put the container of smoothie on the coaster. To my horror, the coaster skittered out from under the container, which tipped over and splattered its contents across the carpet, spotting the nearby bedspread, the wall behind me, even the lower slats of the blinds across the room. In an instant, 32 ounces of smoothie lay spread out before me.

“Holy cow!” I yelled. (That’s not what I really yelled, but this is a family newspaper.) The speed with which I had just ruined the bedroom stunned me. I jumped up, grabbed some towels from the nearby bathroom, and on my hands and knees, breathlessly tried to sop up what had not already soaked into the blue carpet.

Finally, I sat back to stop my panting and to survey the damage. It was awesome what some liquid in a cup could do to an otherwise orderly room. It occurred to me then that this wasn’t just ordinary liquid. This was probably the most nutritious contents this carpet could have sucked up. Let me tell you what I put into my smoothie. 

First I pour into the Vitamix a cup of soy milk, then one cup of pomegranate juice. Next I add one banana, then 2 tablespoons of unsweetened chocolate and 2 tablespoons of flax seed meal (not the seeds.) Then comes the good part: 8 ounces of baby bok choy, 8 ounces of baby kale, 2 cups of frozen cherries and 2 1/2 cups of frozen blueberries. The mixer makes all of this into a drink, and I will have one healthy carpet, albeit devilishly stained.

I am able to joke about this because, incredibly, the story has a happy ending. Just as I was sitting in the middle of the floor, about to cry, the phone rang. It was a dear friend, and when I told him what had just happened, he offered to come right over with his shop vacuum and some kind of magic reagent that he loaded into it. He was truly an angel, passing the suction wand over the spill again and again until the original color of the carpet reappeared. He then put some kind of absorbent powder over the main body of the spill, to be left there for a couple of days and then vacuumed up. When I did so, the damaged area was restored to its former pristine condition.

When I look at the carpet now, I think how wonderful it would be if we could just vacuum up whatever unfortunate circumstances had ever befallen us. Imagine having a giant vacuum that could suck away the misery of COVID-19, returning our lives to what we had always thought of as being normal. It could also remove any hurts or regrets, any shadows of past events or unhappy relationships that we might be carrying throughout our lives. 

Yes, it is true that we learn from our mistakes and our experiences. But we don’t need all of them to become better people. We certainly didn’t need a novel coronavirus, even if it did teach us that we could order groceries delivered and work from home. We could borrow from Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, and using our magic vacuum say, “Out, damned spot!”