It came out during a dinner discussion the other night that most of us around the table hate our garden hoses.

It came out during a dinner discussion the other night that most of us around the table hate our garden hoses.

We don't just dislike our hoses. We hate them with the kind of passion that under different circumstances leads people to be on the receiving end of handcuffs and Miranda rights.

We also hate our hose reels, those things with wheels and a handle that supposedly roll smoothly across the grass.

As for me, I've hated the garden hose ever since my husband and I became homeowners several decades ago. I hate them from the tips of the ineffective nozzles on their annoying spray pistols to the infuriating couplings that refuse to allow themselves to be attached to the faucet.

I had never mentioned my abhorrence out loud, though. I hadn't dared to think that others might despise their garden hoses, too, might dread having to use them, might approach all chores that involve the hose with at best the grim resolve of a martyr and at worst with words that cause the kids to say, "Mom!"

If I thought about it at all, I assumed that everyone else got along beautifully with their garden hoses, and I was the only one who struggled with tangles and kinks and water spraying from the place where the hose is imperfectly connected to the tap. I thought watering the flowers or cleaning the walk was as easy for others as pushing the vacuum cleaner across the floor. (I like my vacuum cleaner, by the way. A person who's crazy about her vacuum cleaner can't be a person who's irrational about other domestic devices, can she?)

Anyway, my point is that this garden hose conversation was revelatory.

It gave me hope to know that other people have trouble maneuvering the hose caddy because it tips over or gets hung up on a clump of grass or simply refuses to negotiate a corner. I was cheered to realize that others also wrestle with the caddy and every time they use it they have to figure out anew where to plant one foot so as to hold it down while they crank the handle, and then of course the hose advances only reluctantly. It's like trying to roll up a boa constrictor.

Do you suppose that I'm not alone in hating other tools and appliances?

I speak of irons that have sparked and burst briefly into flames in my hands, shop vacuum cleaners so clumsy and heavy that tugging ours around while I sweep driveway gravel out of the car makes me feel like a Volga boatman, and then, of course, there's every vacuum cleaner I've ever owned except, so far, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed, the one we have now.

Vacuum cleaners seem designed to annoy. "Let's put a plastic part here, where it'll hit the doorjambs and break," some engineer probably said.

"Yes, and how about we make the hose flimsy at the place where it connects to the frame?" another engineer responded.

A tendency to spit fluffs of dirt out instead of sucking them in, a weight equal to that of a small refrigerator, and voila! It's ready for the sales floor.

I suspect that when it comes to some of my mechanical aversions, I really am alone. But others share my feelings about garden hoses, which is enough to make me feel, at least for a few minutes, all warm and cozy inside.

Margo Bartlett is a ThisWeek staff writer: E-mail mbartlett@thisweeknews.com.

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