A friend of mine who used to work for a moving company once told me that you learn some amazing things about people when you move their stuff. Particularly when you lift up their beds. People have all kinds of forgotten surprises hidden in those dark, unswept corners – used condoms, handcuffs, rotten food, sex toys....
I was unpacking dishes in the kitchen when one of the movers, the big footballish one, walked in carrying a box labeled Misc.
“What do you have in here?” he asked, “Like, a toy dog or something?”
I turned to see what he was talking about, but all he had was this box, tightly wrapped in an insane cocoon of twisted late-night-packing tape. I gave him the squinty Huh? face, but he just held the box out to me by way of elaboration. We stood there for a second, me puzzling and him unwilling to say any more.
And then I heard it, the soft mechanical grinding coming from somewhere deep inside the box. It was so faint that it would have been inaudible had I not been craning for it, and by the way the mover held his hands on the box – like he was cupping a bomb, or feeling a pregnant bump for signs of a kick – you could tell that what had drawn his attention wasn’t the sound but the Funky-Bunch feel of the box.
Totally boggled, I looked over at my boyfriend, Marco, whose house I was moving in to, and he raised his eyebrows in wide-eyed alarm. I flapped my hands at him, like What? And then I figured it out.
My face went from pleasantly confused to zombie-slack, and my whole body just started radiating heat. The mover looked at Marco, then he looked back at me, and then he abruptly turned and carried the buzzing box into the living room.
We heard the box hit the floor, and then things went quiet. After a few seconds, he yelled, “Everything’s okay now!” – apparently dropping the box had jostled it into silence. The mover fast-walked his way out the front door, averting his gaze as he passed us.
“Oh my God,” I whispered to Marco.
“Was that a...?” Marco asked, scandalized.
The second mover, the short one with the hangover smell, came in carrying the next load. By the smile on the face it was clear that Mover One had stopped him on the stairs to share the good news about yet another confirmed Code V, or whatever seasoned movers call it.
I ducked into a box full of packing paper and started in with some important rustling. After a busy day of inventing reasons to remove myself from whichever room the movers went into – the ring of a phone heard by no one but me, a sudden need for lip balm – I handed the movers a gigantic tip delivered with a clipped “Thanks! Bye!” They grinned and slowly made their way to their truck, which they then took an eon to start, and a thousand-million years to drive away.
It wasn’t until late that night, after we’d shelved all my books and sorted the pots and pans and stacked my sweaters and plugged in my toothbrush charger, that I realized what had happened. As I stood there at the sink, the toothbrush’s busy buzz amplified in the open cave of my mouth, I remembered that months ago I’d removed the batteries from my vibrator – a pink novelty act with a fine layer of dust – the night the batteries in my remote control died right in the middle of some important television. Those good vibrations were nothing but my innocent, dentist-recommended Braun Professional Care two-speed electric toothbrush.