This new quarantine life has provided me with time and eliminated any excuses

to do the necessary and unpleasant task of cleaning out closets, beginning with the closet in my office/former nursery/craft room/eBay headquarters.


In the closet, under the stack of battered 5K t-shirts (so much for learning to sew a quilt of those), bags of broken tiles (so much for learning to lay tile for a mosaic table), I stumbled of one of my husband Eric’s more bizarre EBay purchases. He defended his choice after it showed up on our doorstep–“It will save us money on haircuts! It will be fun! The kids will love it!”

None of these statements were true.

RoboCut—The Family Haircutting System with Precision Dial!
RoboCut is a vacuum cleaner hose attachment with a rotating fan of blades inside the hose. You simply attach the hose to your vacuum, plug in both the vacuum and RoboCut, suck your hair up with the hose, and the spinning “Blades of Terror” sear them off.

The box’s featured photo was of a quite dapper mustachioed older gentleman in a tuxedo shirt, holding what appeared to be a vacuum cleaner hose up to his head, sucking his hair straight out of his scalp. He smiled gently, no doubt getting ready for his grand-daughter’s wedding or perhaps his “Man of the Year” banquet at the local Elks lodge.

The description on the box cover was either a brilliant work of fiction or stellar optimism:

“Enjoy family fun and quality time together while giving each other great looking haircuts”
–Wrong on both counts. We tried it on 4-year-old Joe, who was justifiably freaked out. And Eric, the only one of our family who wasn’t terrified, ended up looking like his hair was burned off at the ends.

“Obtain beautiful texture on the hair ends”
–If you consider “shredded wheat” to be “beautiful texture,” then yes, this claim is true.

“The airflow is soothing to toddlers”
–Nope. The RoboCut motor was a jet engine preparing for take-off. Joe was in tears within minutes, and our 2-year old Evelyn was at once shocked and confused.

Eric was a trouper though. He’d plug it in and go to town, sucking his hair up and ripping it clean off. He even used the extender, angled adapters, and hose adapters, becoming quite the expert. And after each shearing, he resembled at best a strikingly handsome Beaker, his thick, healthy hair reduced to perfect rows of split ends.

The RoboCut boasted one more selling point—it was a pet grooming system; perfect for people who just don’t like their pets. Although safe, I was pretty confident that if you aspired to achieve a healthy, smooth, luxurious coat on your dog, cutting their fur with tiny whirling serrated blades is not the most efficient way to get there. And I can’t imagine any cat ever tolerating such silliness.

And one cannot forget the Flowbee—the nemesis of the RoboCut. Or one can. Maybe it’s better off if we all just forget ALL vacuum-cleaner-attachment-hair-cutting-pet-grooming-systems because they do indeed suck. In more ways than one.