Chris and I are standing in the vacuum cleaner aisle at Walmart, surveying Hoovers, checking prices. The debate: do we buy a shitty vacuum cleaner for less that will probably conk out in a year or two a week after the warranty expires (it’s like they know), or do we bite the proverbial bullet and pay more for a state-of-the-art Hoover equipped with a five-way swivel head and powerful suction that will outlast them all?

It’s October, and the store is crammed full of Halloween candy. I smell sweetness in the air, stale cheap chocolate. A day or so after Halloween the store will be decorated for Christmas, and the aisles will be filled with novelty gifts and stocking stuffers.

“How much is this one?” I say. There appears to be no price listed below it, the most promising Hoover of them all, but then I see the sticker tag curled over the bottom rim of the metal shelf upon which the Hoover sits, beckoning to us. “Oh, it’s down there,” I say, leaning over to see, but my back is killing me, and my knees are shot from years of epic distance running, all to be thin, to be pretty, to look great in crop tops I never had the courage to wear, to fit into small and defined spaces while my marriage to an abusive man was falling apart.

“I don’t see it,” Chris says, but he gets down on his knees onto the white linoleum floor and peers hard at the bottom rim of the shelf upon which the Hoover sits. “Oh, there it is,” he says. “It’s $160.”

“Holy shit.”

This is our plight, two lovers standing in the vacuum cleaner aisle at Walmart while fluorescent lights burn into our weary middle-age psyches.

Chris rises to his feet, dusts off his Levis and sort of pulls them up higher around his waist. I’m briefly distracted from the Hoover and its menacing sticker price. Something in the way he dusted off his jeans, but I want him, right then and there in aisle 26.

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