When our son was little, he was afraid of the vacuum cleaner. Tom was an early talker, but when he was just learning to talk, he often made up names for objects such as “fridder-freighter” (refrigerator) and “teffelone” (telephone). He called the dreaded vacuum the “ah-boo.”
I got him to overcome his fear of the “ah-boo” by giving him rides on that old Hoover canister. When it was not plugged in and not making any noise, it became a fun toy. Later, I was able to show him it couldn’t possibly suck him up into that small opening on the hose, and he gradually lost his fear of the “ah-boo.”
Our various cats looked at the variety of vacuums we’ve had (the canister, several uprights, some hand-helds) as annoying noisemakers. Some of the kitties would hide when the “ah-boo” came out. A few were afraid of it, but most just didn’t like the noise.
Zoe and Torrie, our current felines, are shelter cats, and pretty much afraid of nothing. They don’t like the vacuum cleaner, but they don’t run and hide as soon as I put my hand on the handle. They are annoyed by the noise, but don’t fear the machine.
Occasionally, probably because of the weather, we get an invasion of some sort of bug in the house leading to us waging war with bug spray, etc. Recently, we had a bunch of flies invade. Where did they come from, and how did they get in? Who knows. Maybe there’s a hole in a screen. Maybe they just sneaked in when we were bringing in all of the luggage after we got home from vacation. Whatever, they were beyond annoying.
Our daughter Lisa was over, and she and Bob took to swatting the flies with a couple of trusty old fly swatters. Torrie hates flies and loves to kill them, so she was stalking the bugs. The noise of the swatting spooked her, causing her to jump up and knock over a fan. Of course, that spooked her even more.
For some reason, she equated an inanimate object – the fly swatter – with the fan falling. For days, she was in high alert mode. She walked around with her belly two inches off the floor and her tail down. Anything out of place caused her to stop and look at it as if it was a cobra ready to strike. She was even wary of the catnip I brought in for her, something she usually loves.
After a quick trip to the store, we came home with two more swatters and some old-fashioned flypaper, so the insects have mostly gone to wherever dead bugs go. We hope we have won the war on flies.
But poor Miss Torrie. She has taken to standing on her hind legs and staring at the coffee table looking for the fly swatters that are no longer there. Once in a while, she goes slinking around, tail down and on high alert. Apparently she is still looking for that thing that caused the fan to fall. The fly swatters have become our new “ah-boo.”
Nancy Long writes about Lake County history from her home in Gurnee.