Thu, Jul 24, 2014 ●
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Abby's Road: That sucking sound you hear? That's me at my best

Opinion

Abby's Road: That sucking sound you hear? That's me at my best

We see each other so rarely, you and I. If you’re reading this, you’re probably in a waiting room. Or maybe you’re eating a meal alone, or killing time while your child’s extracurricular activity ends.

Informal polling indicates that most of you are intermittent readers, as likely to recollect something I wrote last summer as last week. Many of you found out that I write here every other week just now when you read that I write here every other week.

That’s perfectly fine. There are other forms of entertainment vying for your attention, like smartphones and televisions and the person screaming down the hall. Go tend to your business. I’ll be here, under back issues of Martha Stuart Living and L.L. Bean’s 2011 spring catalog.

The point is, there are two points here. First, we don’t know each other very well. Second, we do know I should be giving you more in exchange for your time than 700 words on why brownies are delicious. (You remember that column, it’s the one you always mention when I see you at Shaw’s.)

I am time-crunched enough to believe that if you’re not killing two birds with one stone, you might as well take that stone and smash it into your forehead. So this week, I’m going to lead us in a highly productive team-building exercise. A literary trust fall, if you will.

We’re each going to pick one event from our weekly routine by which we would most like to be judged. We’re going to describe that event, and explain why it represents our peak performance. We’re going to feel a little ashamed and very awkward. It’ll be great.

I’ll go first.

I’d like you to judge me by the four minutes I spend vacuuming my car at the Irving gas station at Bucknam Road and Route 1.

During those four minutes, I am at my most determined, domestic, and athletic. Please extrapolate from what I can do to a minivan in those 240 seconds, and conclude that I apply the same seriousness of purpose, maniacal precision, and nimble dexterity to every deadline, chore and physical activity that confronts me during the remaining 604,560 seconds of my week.

When I approach the chrome rectangle awaiting my six precious quarters, my head is nowhere but in the zone. The blood rushing from my head to my fingertips drowns out the sounds of whining children, texting husbands, and bragging car-washers. It’s just me, the digital countdown, and several feet of ribbed, thick plastic hose.

As the final quarter rounds it way down the coin slot, I turn to my chariot. I approach, with a firm two-handed grip on my suctioning elephant’s nose. I work in calm, measured strokes, passenger seat first, then back to two rows of children’s seating. As I develop a rhythm, I one-hand the vacuuming; with my free hand, I throw toys and books and hats and socks and, once, a frozen dirty diaper, into a basket or trash can.

I weave between pilot seats with the agility of a mermaid. I climb over child seats like a venture capitalist’s favorite Sherpa. I wrestle Goldfish crumbs and Pirate’s Booty dust out of leather seams using the sumo techniques my great-grandfather never taught me.

By the time the alarm bells of the final minute erupt, I’ve already tidied everything that can’t talk back. With only the driver’s seat left, I lean over the center console in a move reminiscent of Gabby Douglas on the uneven bars. Legs flying, my eyes remain focused on the ground beneath me, my hands reaching for hose to connect with floor.

The whirring stops. I re-coil the hose and walk away with the bravado of Shaun White before he cut his hair. I am undefeated against those four minutes, because I refuse to be anything but the conquering hero.

That, dear friend, is how I want you to think of me, always: as an autocrat who neither time nor fitness level can restrain. Don’t pay attention to the snooze button I repeatedly push, the living room rug I sweep with my foot, or my fear of a pull-up bar.

Now you go.