August 17, 2010

Appliances, then and now.


Yesterday – and today, too – I washed and waxed the floors. I remember my mother doing this. I remember her answering the telephone and saying to a friend who, presumably, was asking what she did that day. “Oh, not too much,” she would say. “I washed and waxed the floors”.  How long can it take, I used to ask myself, to wash and wax the floors?

When I grew up, cleaning floors went like this: you sweep them, run a mop over them, squeeze on them some floor shining stuff from a plastic bottle, let them dry. You occasionally get down on your hands and knees to scrub a stubborn spot. You then go and check your email or have a little espresso with left-over Christmas cake.

But now I own a Viking ’77 floor polisher. Remembering my mother’s floors which gleamed like glass, I decided to wash and wax my floors in an attempt to achieve the same result. And I did. It took about four hours, taking to account the drying times between mopping, waxing and polishing. And buffing, the icing on the hardwood.

Recently, during an evening of wine sampling and chit chat with my middle sister, we discussed floor polishing. She, too, has a polisher. Her’s is a 50s greyish pink, and mine is a muted green, just like Mum’s.

She nabbed it on Big Garbage Eve. She doesn’t really have the scavenging gene, but Big Garbage Eve is when the truck will take anything from washing machines to mascot costumes, including the oversized head. One can see some wild sights curbside. Ever the style maven, the pink caught her eye. One man’s trash is another gal’s floor polisher.

My sister, now very social and easy to be with, was timid as a child. She had what we thought were amusing fears: Santa Claus, our next-door neighbour Cliff, an unwillingness to spend an overnighter with my grandparents. In writing this, I realize it sounds dark and weird, but she has assured me there was nothing at play but her little-girl imagination.

She also had an imaginary friend, Christine. My sister has described her to me, but the description is so detailed that it would take too long to type it here. I can say only that Christine was African Canadian – or African American, for I don’t know from which country Christine came.  I’m not sure my sister ever asked her.  I once asked her how real Christine seemed to her. She paused, leaned in toward me, lowered her voice and said “it was as real as you are sitting here in front of me”. It gave me pause, and a shudder, I’ll admit.

But on that night of sampling and chit chat, I learned something new about my sister vis a vis a floor polisher. My mother kept hers stored in a small alcove-ish space at the top of our stairs. Turns out, that in addition to Christine, the floor polisher was also a part of my sister’s social circle. It was her “tall, skinny friend”.  I don’t know the tall, skinny friend’s name. Perhaps it was Viking ’77  – Vicky for short, I’m figuring. According to my sister, she and Christine would sit on the top stair visiting their tall, skinny friend.

Now – smart, practical, funny – I wonder what she thinks when she polishes her floor. I’m pretty sure she gives a wry little laugh and gets on with the job.

But me. I can’t help look at my muted green polisher  – just like my mother’s – and think: are you Vicky, if that in fact is you name?

It gives me pause, and a shudder, I’ll admit.


One Response to “Appliances, then and now.”
  1. joe

    i too have a viking floor polisher, but one of the buttons got lost over the years and i have tried every thing to keep my polishing pad on the brushes. My question is do you know where i could find parts for this machine? If so i could use the info. Thank you Joe