My Parents Gave Me Syphilis for Christmas

My parents gave me one of those automatic vacuum cleaners for Christmas.

My sister-in-law got a membership to a wine club.

My brother got $50,000. (Or $50 plus books. Whatever. Same same.)

Greg got a 3D printer.

I got a cleaning implement.

My brother was jealous. He’s a younger brother. It’s what they do best. “SURE,” he said. “I get a money and books, and BETH gets the COOLEST VACUUM EVER. So what do I have to do to get a gift like that? JUST NOT CLEAN MY HOUSE FOR 12 YEARS, LIKE HER?”

Yes, Jeff.

Yes; that’s exactly what you have to do. Not clean your house for 12 years. And in retrospect? TOTALLY WORTH IT. Look at me, planning ahead!

So we have an automatic vacuum cleaner running around our house these days.

Greg named him Sisyphus, after the Greek mythological King of Corinth. As the tale goes, Sisyphus was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it come back to hit him, on repeat, forever.

We don’t know what our vacuum robot did in a previous life to have to be reincarnated as the object that tries to clean our house, the ultimate act of futility, but it must have been BAD, friends. Very, VERY bad.

Some of our kids, though, can’t remember how to pronounce Sisyphus.

They call him Syphilis.

As in, “Syphilis got stuck under our couch again.” And, “Mom, have you ever noticed Syphilis seems to be EVERYWHERE in this house?” And, “Mom, I like to play with Syphilis and see if I can outrun it.” And, “MOM! Syphilis got me again!”

You know, we try really hard not to have secrets in this house. We’re much more of the Live Life Out Loud Even Though We’re Weird kind of family. And BE BOLDLY US. And LET’S TALK ABOUT ALL THE THINGS. I feel, though, like Syphilis should be the exception that proves the rule.

In conclusion, my children are not allowed — EVER — to talk about our vacuum robot at school. Syphilis just became our family secret. I mean, what could go wrong??

Sincerely,

 

 

 

P.S. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for giving me Syphilis for Christmas. I like it very much.

P.P.S. I’m supposed to write a post about the February book for our Escapist Book Club, but people at my house are still barfing, and it was easier to write about Syphilis. Sorry. Here’s the February book, though, in case you’d like to get started:

More soon, I hope, about January’s book which I thought was RAD.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
12 comments
  1. So, do you like the vacuum? I hear mixed reviews about whether or not they’re actually effective…

  2. […] And here’s our review of February’s book, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: […]

  3. That totally cracked me up and made me laugh out loud. Its an awesome story.

  4. I had thought to say that you should explain the story of Sisyphus and that it’s pronounced “Sissy-fuss.” But then I realized that your kids would tell their teachers that they had a King in Hell vacuuming their house.

    Then I had thought to say that you should explain that syphilis is a terrible STI that could result in insanity and do an appropriate sex-ed/anti-disease discussion. But then I realized that we once had a white cat with a black spot on her head named Chickadee, often called Chickie or some other variation. She was not a nice cat. In fact, quite the opposite. Her nicknames included Chickie-Pox, The Evil of the Universe, and The F*** (we were at college). And because we were English majors and loved Shakespeare, we would sling our favorite Shakespearean insult, “A Pox on you!” And we started with Chickadee, not Syphilis.

    I realized that my suggesting anything would just make things geometrically So. Much. Worse.

    So I am not suggesting anything. In fact, I am pouring virtual beverages of choice to all your followers, and we will sit together and await your post on what exactly happened when which of your kids told their teacher about the new vacuum cleaner.

    1. Oh, have no fear. We had a THOROUGH conversation with one of the 10yos about what, exactly, syphilis is, what it would do to his penis should he actually catch the STD kind instead of the vacuum cleaner, and why fear of his penis having giant oozing sores, and, you know, basically falling off, not to mention incurable insanity, is a perfectly good, terrifying reason to keep his penis from going anywhere it doesn’t belong. 😀 This is the vacuum cleaner that JUST KEEPS GIVING.

  5. I can’t wait to read the follow-up to this one, in which you tell us how you tried to explain your STD vacuum to your kids’ teacher… *dies laughing*

    If it makes you feel any better, my FIL thought it’d be hilarious to teach my pre-K kiddo the “skeeter on my peter” song. All 3 verses. (There’s another on my brother, there’s a dozen on my cousin…” Ye-eah. I told him I was forwarding all calls from the school to his personal cell. :-p

  6. I got that same one (well that same brand anyway – mine is white) when my Roomba died and I wasn’t willing to shell out $350 minimum for a new Roomba. I got the ILife that was $150 on Amazon, and then kicked myself 3 weeks later when the older version of the Roomba (which was a WAY newer version than mine that died) went on sale at Walmart for something like $200. UGH. Anyway, I like the ILife since I have all tile, but I have to really pick EVERYTHING up and move anything it can get stuck on before I run it. That means I run it maybe every two weeks because, let’s face it, that’s a lot of work! And when I only run it every two weeks, I have to stop it and empty the dustbin on it every 30 minutes because 1 dog, 2 cats, and 2 women live here, and they all shed profusely…

  7. One of the funniest things I have ever read in my life is about a Roomba and some cats. http://tomatonation.com/stories-true-and-otherwise/viva-la-roombalucion/ I can’t read this without laughing so hard I cry.

  8. If it makes you feel any better, my six-year-old son recently asked me when we were going to get the dog “un-spermed”. We usually use the term “neutered” At least I can be confident that we have covered the basics of sex ed in our house. I think being the youngest child of 14 helps…

  9. My kids were in a play…a musical comedy about the story of Esther…My son was only 4 1/2 or so, so had a very small part and had plenty of time to watch the other parts practice…on of the songs in the play had the key line of, “born to be a eunuch”. Of course that was the only line he could remember…I had to forbid that one from being repeatedly sung at the top of his lungs in the grocery store…

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