I asked Amy if she thought our old Dyson vacuum sucked better or worse than it used to. A word tornado ensued that went something like this:

Amy: Sucked worse? You mean it got worse at sucking. Does not suck as much dirt?

Seth: I mean compared with how it sucked before, how does it suck now?

Amy: This is assuming it always sucked.

Seth: Well, it has, to some degree, always sucked. But what I want to know is does the sucking suck, or does the sucking not suck, as in does the sucking not blow?

Amy: Not blowing would mean it sucks but does not suck?

Seth: Yes, but it has always sucked, so to suck and blow would answer my question of: did the sucking suck, or did the sucking not blow?

Amy: Yes, but if it sucks, doesn’t it, by default, not blow?

Seth: No, it could totally blow and suck.

Amy: So if it sucks at sucking, it blows?

Seth: Yes.

Amy: And if it does not suck at sucking, it sucks hard?

Seth: Yes.

Amy: But also does not suck hard?

Seth: Exactly.

The word suck is more versatile than you think. Per Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition), the 1b definition of “suck” is as follows: to draw something from or consume by such movements.

Our nonsensical conversation qualified, having consumed a minute of our lives, rendering the logic and reasoning portions of our brains naked and convulsing on the floor, saying, “Why?” in creaking, breathy, toneless voices.

But not to despair! There are more productive and idiomatic ways to suck:

Suck an egg—for those with osteoporosis, sucking an egg is a good way to pull calcium into your body and strengthen your bones without becoming a bird murderer.

Suck the big one—refers to either a porn star’s graduation of skills or to a lollipop licking contest winner.

Suck balls—when things go wrong, and one finds oneself short on one’s payments to one’s loan shark, refers to either being forced to suck one’s own balls, which, except for perhaps certain Cirque du Soleil performers, is impossible and results only in one’s spine rupturing (the mob not being known for its pragmatic collection techniques), or to the ultimate marching band test of embouchure strength, which involves sucking a bowling ball to the lips for the length of South Park’s Chocolate Salty Balls.

Sucks hard—refers to the last-ditch effort to avoid a challenging math exam by using one’s excessive inhale as a means to draw one’s paper exam (was born in the 80s, y’all) and swallowing it, literally digesting knowledge, but not absorbing it.

Sucksville—refers to the town where everything sucks. If you stop your car at the one stoplight, the citizens will remove the caps from your tires’ valve stems and suck your tires flat.

If you buy popcorn at the movie theater, and you don’t have a plexiglass tube attached to the bucket that directs the popcorn straight to your mouth, the theater’s other patrons (in my Covid-free example) will suck all the popcorn from your bucket like a reverse fountain.

It is their one skill, so don’t be too hard on them. President Trump’s Space Force is in talks with the citizenry to serve as collective black hole matter retrieval specialists.

Stronger than the speed of light is fast, Sucksville sucks.

SuckFest—refers to Sucksville’s annual summer festival, the main event of which is imploding kegs from a distance with one’s sucking power.

Suck off—surprisingly not referring to another item in the porn star’s tool kit, this refers to an alternative to the traditional American rude gesture, and it involves sucking the skin off the face of one who has offended you. We said it was an alternative. We didn’t say it involved fingers.

Suck the air out of the room—refers to the latest serial killer technique, favored by former band members who’ve completed the ultimate marching band embouchure strength test.

Sucking the life out of the party—any mention of party politics at a family gathering.

Sucking life—Count Rugen’s cure-all for wayward, witty heroes who prefer black.

The etymology of suck draws you in and holds fast.

Sucks that it’s over for this column, though.

Sucks at sucking.