As I began to assemble Buster the Duster the Talking Vacuum Cleaner on Christmas Eve I felt more and more like I was in that Episode of Star Trek about Spock's Brain.
Spock's brain had been removed and Bones was desperately trying to reattach it with little to no knowledge of the procedure. Once certain nerves controlling Spock's voice we connected Spock actually began to guide Bones through the rest of the operation as he lay prone on the operating table.
Naturally Spock survived and Bones was a hero.
"Dammit Jim, I'm a Doctor not a Miracle Worker!"
My journey...began easily enough with the opening of the box, the untwisting of the one thousand billion silver twist ties that held Buster in his sarcophagus of cardboard, removing the black plastic rectangles that acted as leverage rods for the silver twists and then carefully removing each little piece of the soon to be Frankenstein Monster of Vacuums.
Once all the pieces were laid out in front of me and my tools to my side oiled and cleaned I carefully followed the instructions one by one, picture by picture, diagram by diagram, Japanese kanji subtitles spinning in my head (none of which I understood) in an effort to give my creation life...I began my operation.
As I connected Buster's body to the head handle..IT SPOKE!
"Hi I'm Buster The Duster!" He yelled in the voice much like that of Gofy from the Disney cartoons.
I reeled backward as if in some flashback from my days in Beauty and The Beast, the appliances...speak!
"Let's get 'ta Cleanin'" said Buster. "We've got a lot 'o work ta do!"
I covered the speaker on the back of Buster's body with my hand but Buster would not stop speaking.
Frantically I searched for the on/off switch all the while...
"Don't forget ta sweep under the rug!" emanated from Buster's now animated brain.
I began to run wildly trying to find a place, anyplace where Buster's voice would not echo the halls of our home and thus not wake the now sleeping babe so tenderly awaiting the arrival of Santa in the morning.
"Clean, Clean, Clean with Buster!"
I searched frantically for the switch again but to no avail, then like a bolt of lighting it came to me...
The Battery Compartment
Turning Buster upside down and sideways with hawk like vision, like Steve Austin, like the Salticid spider I located the compartment....
"Whirl, Whirl, Whirl goes my tummy!"
...the battery compartment...it was locked. Well, not locked as in the normal sense, but locked in what I know now as "The Christmas Curse For All Fathers" the dreaded miniature Phillips Head Screw.
"Sin, Spin, Spin!"
I reached down to my ever trusty tool belt only to realize the horror of all horrors, I had left my screw driver in the other room.
I couldn't go back...I could not retrace my steps through the halls to retrieve the much needed weapon against the Animated Plastic Being that was now coming to life and threatening to wake the child who by now had visions of sugar plums dancing in her head.
"Push, Push, Push! Spin, Spin, Spin!"
Why? I asked myself, Why would they put batteries IN the toy before shipping? What happened to the "Batteries Not Included" days? And why must they all now be AAA?
And then...like another Bolt it came to me...the dreaded "Demo Mode."
How else to entice people to buy...what with the many choices of toys sitting on the shelves one needs a leg up and hence the "Try Me" slogan now so rampant on the electronic toys of today.
"Buster Loves To Clean!"
Buster...tell me how to turn you off!
I had connected the right pieces, I had attached the parts correctly, but unlike Bones and Spock I gained no assistance from my patient.
I ran into the master bathroom and shut the door.
Tweezers....tweezers might fit into the small cross on the miniature Phillips Head Screw and thus end the rambling madness that now filled my home.
As I opened the drawer and grasped the instrument which would aid my cause, I felt the words "At Last My Arm Is Complete" begin to spill forth from my mouth.
Then, with a jolt, the drawer bumped up against Buster and suddenly I heard...
"Clean ya Later!"
Then Silence. Buster fell completely and eerily silent. His last words "Clean Ya Later" echoed in my head...
I looked down uncertain whether to trust my now silent companion but the life in Buster was indeed dark. I slowly turned Buster over careful not to wake him from his slumber and my eyes fell on the sight I had been yearning for only moments ago.
There was a tiny little switch with a raised star on one side and a raised circle on the other. It was the on/off level and it had been switched to the off position by the edge of the drawer as I pulled it open.
The Creature was now sleeping, if only temporarily.
A sigh of relief escaped my lips. My shoulders relaxed as I cradled Buster in my arms.
I retraced my steps back though the main house to the room in which our Christmas tree stood. I carefully placed Buster under the tree, face pointed outward toward the room for all to see, gleaming in the tinkling white lights and went back to assemble the Pink Whisper Buggy fully equipped with cup holder.
(Which also takes AAA batteries NOT INCLUDED)
"Dammit Jim (I said to myself)...I'm an actor not Santa Claus!"