Monday, September 20, 2010

A Love Triangle

Conflict is an important part of any novel. It comes in many forms and usually includes a protagonist and an antagonist. Protagonist wants something. Antagonist gets in her way. In some cases, the conflict springs up between a triangle. Jealousies sprout, feelings are hurt, territories are marked. And hopefully, by the novel’s end, protagonist emerges victorious and realizes her greatest desire. Such was the case at our house this past week.

I walk up the stairs, my computer bag slung over my shoulder, hungry and tired because my day is nearly at an end. Ben, our Jack Russell in case you’re new to my blog, greets me at the landing. His stubby tail wags and he jumps on my shins. After a quick pat on his head, a gentle ruffle of his ears, I drop my bag, and there, across the room, nestled against the far wall, I see it. The newest addition to our family. RUMBA.

I walk across the dark wooden floors, peppered as they always are with white dog hair, and stand before RUMBA. Ben trails me, jumping on my calves, darting between my feet. I turn to Husband who has followed me. He is responsible for this surprise. Son and Daughter join in. Huddling around RUMBA, we gaze down upon the green lights that mean he is fully charge. “Go ahead,” Husband says.

I press the power button on top of RUMBA’s head. He leaps from his cradle. We four break our huddle and jump out of his way. RUMBA beeps three times, spins 180 degrees and rolls across the floor, leaving a clean path in his wake. Six feet away, he nudges the bottom of the couch, spins and takes off in the other direction. We marvel as he finds himself under the dining room table and manages to navigate the four chairs and emerge unscathed. He rolls along the baseboards, hugs the cabinets in the kitchen, even avoids certain doom when, at the last possible moment, he turns away from the top stair. Whereas it used to take only one of us to sweep the floors—generally me—it now takes the entire family. We follow him from room to room, shouting, “Good RUMBA. Left. No right. Good boy, RUMBA.” I think I even coo.

Because RUMBA isn’t fully charged, he lasts only a half hour. Spent from all the cheering, we empty his filter, and I feel the weight of four years of dog hair lift instantly from my shoulders. Husband returns RUMBA to his cradle where he can charge for another day. And there, as if waiting for the pack leader to return, lays Ben. Daughter rushes to sweep him into her arms. His normally perky ears droop. I give his head another ruffle and say, “No more talking to RUMBA,” because a nasty love triangle has sprung up in the family. Ben is jealous RUMBA.

RUMBA continues to run every morning, but no longer do we cheer him on or pat his round flat head. We press his power button without a single word of encouragement, empty his filter with a cool hand, and leave him to find his own way back to his cradle, which he usually does if he doesn’t run out of power first. This conflict has come to a satisfactory conclusion. Ben is once again the pack leader and I have clean floors.

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