The only one likely to get any treats
this Valentine’s Day is the cat. As my sweetheart said, now that
we’re getting old and fat, we need to think of new ways to
celebrate loving occasions. So, we treated ourselves to an iRobot
Roomba 650. More expensive than a red heart full of chocolates, but
oh, so rewarding, so low calorie.
Could we afford this luxury robot? It
was on sale and we had a gift card. Did we need it? No, my sweetheart
actually likes vacuuming. Did she think it was just another gadgety
toy that caught my eye? No, I barely saw the robot until she had it
up and running. Don’t believe everything you hear about lesbian
I admit, the Roomba was my idea. At the
Left Coast Lesbian Literary Conference last year, I overheard a
literary dyke enthusiastically praising the product and its sale
price. I emailed myself a reminder to check it out. My sweetheart was
not excited, but I foresaw a future which included making all sorts
of messes – repotting plants, constructing signs for protests,
eating crumbly non-fat crackers – without guilt or the anticipation
of cleaning up with a loud, heavy, inadequate trump-like device.
She sings. Not my sweetheart, but the
little helper she named Vic the Vac. You put Vic on the floor and she
sings a happy fluty sound that makes us think she’s thrilled to be
doing her job. She’s grateful to us for setting her free, free! And
she sets about her duties assiduously. All we need to do, besides
empty her nether parts, is keep out of her way. Vic does a better job
of cleaning than the best of the big vacuums we’ve tried.
Of course, as with any new – would
you call her a pet – there are moments of panic. The robot comes
with an electronic thingy that creates a virtual barricade to keep
her out of areas where you don’t want her marauding. (An electronic
But seriously, when Vic gets stuck
under a bookcase, my sweetheart longs, and I quote, to be able to
program Vic with messages like “owie” when she’s stuck, or
“uppie” when she‘s done and wants to be carried home from
behind her barricade to her charging station. My sweetheart also
wishes we could teach Vic to say, “I can’t believe I ate the
whole thing,” to signal that her canister is full. As if that were
an issue; we turn her on to do her happy dance whenever we see a
spot. Our home hasn’t been this consistently clean in ten years.
How is our robot a fit gift for
Valentine’s Day? For one thing, it frees up some together time.
Time that, these days, is so tethered to the necessity of political
activism. Instead of walking the beach hand in hand or sitting close
by the (gas) fireplace, remembering falling in love and our wedding,
we’re calling senators from coast to coast to beg, thank, or
encourage them to save the America we love.
It was kind of romantic, though, that
first protest march we attended together. We live in a place that is
about as populous as half a neighborhood in my hometown of NYC. The
Women’s March was anticipated to draw, at most, a couple hundred
residents. As we waved our signs at passing motorists, people kept
streaming toward us. Whole families, singles, packs of friends, all
genders, all colors, packed the front of City Hall in the rain.
Sixteen hundred of us. Several came from our 55+ neighborhood. A
ninety-six-year-old woman in a wheelchair waved her sign, grinning
her head off.
We held hands, my sweetheart and I, as
we marched along the Coast Highway, the only coastal route from
Mexico to Canada. Our little adopted town, where we have made our
home, wasn’t standing still for the coup of ignorance in our
The police and volunteers were, if not
friendly, competent. They might have been scared of our unprecedented
numbers. Some of the drivers who passed shouted obscenities and made
emphatically offensive gestures. There was one man with a sign
supporting the Bundy brothers' occupation of Malheur National Forest.
We protesters were peaceful and did not engage.
The discouraging part, as my college
roommate, who marched in NYC, said, was, "What now?"
Romantic activism, hardly a new form of
courting and togetherness, is in our future. As are dieting, more
walking in the rain hand in hand, and perhaps celebrating Valentine’s
Day in our living room with a waltz or a rumba to the happy love song
of the Roomba.
[Editor's Note: Lee Lynch is the author
of over 13 books. Her latest, Rainbow Gap, is available at Bold
Strokes Books. You can reach Lynch at LeeLynch@ontopmag.com]
Copyright 2017 Lee Lynch.