Why is buying a new appliance such an ordeal? With so many products online and in the hardware store, you can’t make a decision. Take the ubiquitous vacuum cleaner. They all look good and promise state-of-the-art design and incomparable service. The brands are legendary: Dyson, Shark, Miele, and more. Modern engineering has created marvels of home maintenance. If you haven’t bought a new machine in a while, you might be surprised at the changes. No one uses a home system that plugs in different outlets. They don’t see a cord anymore. Bags are a thing of the past. A foot control means no bending over.

I poured over the descriptions and reviews and given the similarity in price, I came up with a final list. I had a bad case of FOMA. Gran tells me that in the good old days, you got a demonstration. Someone would come over and shock you by putting a bag of dirt on your carpet. While you stood aghast, you were amazed at how efficiently the vacuum cleaner sucked it all up into its waiting bag. With a quick flip of a lever, you accessed the bag, pulled it out, and tossed it in the trash. I suppose that vacuums work better, or at least they are lighter in weight and easier to push around. Trying to choose the perfect machine is guesswork when you shop on the Internet.

I go by reputation and base price. I want a long-lasting, durable canister vacuum that is compact enough to store in the front coat closet. It has to be easy to wipe clean and refurbish after years of use. I don’t expect to be doing this searching again for some time. For now, I am glued to the computer screen reading The Vacuum Challenge and sipping a glass of my favorite chardonnay. For this reason, I don’t mind the time spent. But I could be checking emails and texts or doing the New York Times crossword. Buying a new vacuum is kind of productive in its own way, but the search seems to go on and on. And I talk about it incessantly to my husband, who is getting quite bored with the subject.

I promised him a quick decision but after a week, it is not forthcoming. Not even close. He wants me to like what I buy since I will either be operating it or instructing someone else. He prefers to back away from all this obsessing over features. Upright or canister style? Cord or battery? Metal or plastic? My husband says just get good suction and be done with it. I hear the fatigue in his voice. It is not surprising that a few days later, a huge box was sitting politely on the front porch. I didn’t have to open it to know what it was. A bright, shiny new vacuum–waiting to be put to the test. The madness of my search was over and I could go back to normal.