Friday, July 6, 2012

The couch.

When your Dad and I moved in together (before we were even dating, but that's another story), neither of us had any furniture. Somewhat ironically, your Dad had just given away a really comfy set of chairs and a couch from his old apartment in Upstate New York; he had assumed he was moving to Japan, and therefore wouldn't need squashy, oversized furniture. Instead, he ended up in an apartment with me, and we needed something to sit on. Your Nanny (Dad's grandma) had an old couch that, by all accounts, was in "great shape," so much so that she even requested that we return it to her if we ever decide we don't want it anymore. I was excited for a free couch, even if it was essentially a loaner, but then I saw it.

This thing was lurking in the back of her garage like a dead whale under a boardwalk. It was massive, smelled a bit funky, and was so ugly that I started mentally slip-covering it within seconds of laying eyes on it. At some point in history, some very forgiving and probably not especially opinionated individual might have found this couch attractive or comfortable, but decades of use and a definite shift in styles made it entirely defunct all around. I'm sure it wasn't miserable to sit on at some point, but several boards and many springs had long since broken, and I'm not sure how, but the scratchy fabric must have gotten scratchier and crappier over the years...because really, who in their right mind would spend money on something that essentially caused rug burn every time you sat on it? Still, a free couch is a free couch.

Hudson, it is positively shocking what crap people will put in their homes if it's free or really, really cheap. I bought a couch and loveseat for $50 from the Salvation Army when I was in college, and yes, they were comfy, but damn were they ever questionable. They vaguely smelled like something - not something bad, just something - and they never quite felt clean, but I guess that's what you get when you adopt something that complete strangers have lived on. Our new couch was not smelly, but it did have a strange habit of shedding. After Nanny decided she didn't want this couch anymore, she loaned it to some neighbors who had at least one German Shepherd. I'm convinced they actually bred Wookies AND had a small herd of German Shepherds, because for years after it came into our dog-free home, this sucker would send up poofs of fur and loose hairs any time you sat on it without a slipcover or blanket keeping the explosion at bay. 

We put blankets on it. Two of them. The hair stayed mostly in place, but the structural integrity of the cushions and the frame degraded rapidly. If this couch was an animal, it would have had brittle bone disease and leprosy. (Suffice to say, we would not have adopted THAT one.) Of the three main cushions, only one was lacking a massive hemorrhage out of which gushed crumbly yellow foam, and all three had numerous patches that were worn so thin as to release foam dust and chunks regularly. It was like sitting on a soft bag of potatoes. Blankets kept these issues more or less at bay, but your Uncle Pookie inadvertently dealt this beast a vital blow when he moved in with us.

One thing you need to know about your Uncle Pookie, Hudson, is that he is a perfectionist. When he truly sets his mind to accomplishing a task, he will research, strategize, practice, and do everything in his power to get that task done in exactly the manner of his choosing. This is how he plays video games. The newest version of Halo came out right about when he moved in with us, so almost every free moment of his time was spent refining and perfecting his technique. On the left side of the couch, squarely between two cushions, grew the pwn hole. This was where Pookie pwned (or, to use less timely parlance, kicked the asses of) other Halo players, a task to which he often devoted hours of time. The boards under where Pookie sat almost every day eventually gave way, leaving a cavernous spot of dramatic instability that sucked you something like eight inches further into the couch than anyone ever expected.

Let's check our running total of reasons this couch was terrible.

  1. It was hideous, but that was rendered moot by the fact that...
  2. It may have contained the desiccated corpses of at least three dozen tribbles, or the fur-releasing equivalent thereof.
  3. You could only really sit on about half of it without potentially damaging your spine if you tried to get up.
  4. The cushions were liable to explode at any moment, and had a tendency to poke you in the butt with loose chunks.
  5. Oh, did I mention that generations of animals before and including ours had shredded most of the fabric on the back and front of this thing? Yeah, that too.
Suffice to say, I was overjoyed when we found ourselves gifted with the cash equivalent of a new couch. Your Dad and I roped your Grampa into babysitting for a few hours, and tore like bats out of hell to the closest furniture stores. This was when we learned something new about ourselves.

Hudson, every relationships requires compromises. Your Dad and I have been exceedingly lucky that there are ultimately not many compromises that we need to make; we generally agree on big things, and whenever we disagree on something less significant, we're very good at talking through our opinions, wants, and needs. Generally, we either find a third option that we're both happy with, or a blend of our two original positions that is less compromise and more creativity. This time, we reached something of an impasse. Your Dad wanted something squashy, high-backed, and ultimately much larger than I was interested in having in our relatively tiny apartment. I wanted something soft, low-backed, and apparently way smaller than he thought it was worth spending money to own. He likes recliners and pull-down cup holders, which I think are superfluous and doofy. I like chaise lounges, which he just couldn't care less about if he tried. This is, quite seriously, one of the few times in our relationship when neither of us felt like a compromise was possible or even fair. It was weird.

After scouring two places, we plopped down on an (exceedingly ugly) couch (that your Dad liked but which I thought was just friggin' absurdly huge) and got a little snippy with one another. This never happens, by the way. We decided that we needed to find a couch that was cushy, but not too much so, tall enough for your Dad to lean back on but not so tall that it blocked our windows, and lacking in any extra features so that neither of us felt like we were missing out on what we wanted. We did find such a couch at a somewhat higher-end, privately-owned place, and it was delivered yesterday. 

There is nothing - and I mean NOTHING - quite so glorious as having the couch you want, not the couch you're stuck with. This may seem like a weird thing to be hung up on, but after five years of fearing that a loose board would skewer my butt cheek every time I sat down, and cautioning elderly relatives to sit anywhere but on the couch, it is amazing. The fact that your Dad and I had to come to a genuine compromise to get it kind of makes it better in a way, since we know it is something we both ultimately wanted, and we decided on it together. You will doubtlessly have your share of terrifying furniture in your years to come, but this least this lovely. 

1 comment:

  1. This will be a good story to review in 30 years when it is this very couch that strikes fear into the heart of Hudson and his lovely young wife every time they sit down.