Scooba-Scooba-Doo, It's So Cute!

As I type, a little blue robot is chugging across my apartment floor, sucking up dirt, spewing out cleaning solution, nosing at table legs and mysterious objects under the bed. It's a Scooba, the mopping equivalent of the Roomba. It is noisy. It is ridiculous. It is the cutest thing ever.

When my parents and aunt and uncle were here last month, they went to a taping of The View. Advice for all future tourists to New York: Go to a taping of The View. Babs and Co. may not be Oprah and her Oldsmobiles (or Pontiacs, whatever), but everyone in the audience got a Scooba, retail value $295. (And they saw Nick Lachey and Helen Mirren too, but isn't it all about the swag?) When it came time to leave the city, my parents realized that their suitcases were already full, and other than the kitchen, their house is mostly wall-to-wall carpeting anyway. Thus they left one of the Scoobas with me. (Also I begged.) However, I had just cleaned my floors in preparation for their visit, so I didn't feel the need to break out the gadget immediately.

But tonight . . . I think I'm in love.

After I filled the tank, wiped the filters, and pressed on, it beeped a little happy song at me and blinked a few times. Then it spun in a circle, exactly like a dog settling down for the night, and roved off across the floor to explore. My studio is basically one long box (the main room) with another rectangular box intersecting one corner; the line where the two boxes cross divides the kitchen area, which has linoleum, from the rather scratched-up hardwood of the main room. The walls of the main room are entirely lined with bookshelves, various storage items, and furniture, with my bed about three-fifths of the way into the space. (Picture here if you need a visual.) This means there are lots of things for the little Scooba to bump into, and when it does, it just bounces gently back; you can almost hear it say "Excuse me" before it spins and heads off for another obstacle to investigate. Sometimes it goes to the lip of the hardwood floor and teeters there a moment, seemingly considering a venture onto the linoleum, before it backs away; and sometimes it's gone too far to back away, and then it beeps and a little light flashes: "I'm stuck!" And then I have to rescue it. Isn't that darling?

It did the vacuum cycle for about ten minutes; then it went into the mopping cycle, with a long trail of damp to mark its perambulations, rather like a slug; then finally the squeegee cycle, drying it all off again. Whenever it's in my line of sight here on the bed, I can't help but watch it, even though it does nothing more than blink and move very slowly. (It's a good thing I don't have a pet.) It does pretty well in the corners, I'd say, though I'm not sure it's hit every place it could in the center; and I've had to clean the dust filter three times, though I'm afraid that probably says more about my housekeeping than it does the Scooba. The entire cycle takes about 45 minutes, per the instructions, and looking at the clock, that seems about right.

In fact, it's finished its cycle now, with another happy little song. My floors look just incredibly clean. And I didn't have to do anything more than move the rug, fill its tank, and occasional maintenance. Wow. The Scooba came with a little magnet for my refrigerator, and what it says is true: I Heart Robots.