Or maybe “Couched in terms of despair.” We need a new sofa. We’ve needed a new sofa for at least two years. When we moved into this house, eight years ago, we declared that no longer would we slump on our horrid futon couch (an uncomfortable couch that can turn into an uncomfortable bed!). No, we’d purchase a couch like adults (I’ll note that apparently, in some parts of the world, people do not use sofa, couch, or even divan interchangeably. I’ve now used divan more times than previously in my whole life and I recognize no difference between sofa and couch. I’ll reserve my weird category rules for things other than furniture). Unfortunately, a lifetime of hand-me-downs, trash-picking, and Ikea have spoiled me for furniture pricing and no WAY was I spending serious money on something to be smeared with food, filled with crumbs, and used as a trampoline. We had 3 kids under age 7 when we moved here. I was, and remain, disinclined to monitor how people use the furniture. I have enough to nag about already. So. We ended up buying a $300 couch from a place that was open for a few months in a run-down strip mall.
It met my criteria: no rolled arm, no loose pillow back, no skirt, no weird fat-man’s-belly-like folded back cushions, no microfiber, no leather. And, cheap. ish. in the above photo, all the other furniture added together was far less than $300, but hey.
Now, eight years later, I cannot post a photo of the couch b/c the authorities would take away my children. So just imagine the same one, arms crusty with god knows what, wooden slats under all the cushions to keep the springs from poking into your butt, flies buzzing around like in a neglected Sim house (I was never good at The Sims b/c I figured a house full of flies and people waving their arms around in the air is just normal). Steve says “Get a couch.” This is my mission.
I go to Value City Furniture first. All rolled arms and loose pillow backs and fabrics that make my fingers very sad. But for $400, maybe I can just deal. My favorite thing about Value city is that apparently all the sales staff are independently wealthy. Most furniture stores, you come through that door smelling like fresh antelope on the savannah. At VCF, a wall-eyed gent strolls up, says “Lemme know if you need help,” and wanders off again. Which is okay by me. Car lots, mattress stores, and furniture–I just assume I’m about to be taken advantage of. And they don’t even buy me dinner first.
I wasn’t ready to commit to the VCF couch, so I put out a call to Facebook and get a few suggestions. One of them points out that there’s an “outlet” of the local over-priced furniture chain so I head there. As I walked through the door–all antelopey and lame–a guy a bit older than I swoops down and asks to help me. Given the vast and confusing nature of the store, I decide to just go with it. I tell him what I want–clean modern lines, as little cash as possible. As we chit chat, I learn that Dave has been with the store only 4 mos. I think “Ugh, mid-50s, had to pick up work at the furniture store.” He has 10 year old twins . Later, he mentions that he played lacrosse for William and Mary. He has an American History degree. We bond over useless courses of study. He mentions lacrosse a bit too much for a 57 year old man.
As we narrowed it down to three sofas, he said “To put it in car terms, the Klausner is a Chrysler, the La-z-boy is a Buick, and the Broyhill is a Cadillac.”
Me: So, you’re saying that no matter which I pick, it’s an overpriced piece of crap?
Me: and that I’ll look like an old lady sitting on them?
Dave: The Broyhill is the highest quality.
Chatting about colleges, I say that Julianna was pretty taken with W&M, but that we’d need to move in-state to afford it. He says that when he went there, Glenn Close was just a few years ahead of him. I say “Oh yeah, and Jon Stewart!” He tells me they lived in the same dorm and tells some anecdote about how gross the dorm was. Then says “I can’t believe people look to him for real news. He had the President on and called him ‘dude’!” I laughed and said “Yeah, I saw that!”
Dave: I mean, if I had him on, I’d have something to call him, but it wouldn’t be “dude.”
Me: you mean “Mr. President?” and fixed him with a mom-stare. You know the one. The one that says, ” I strongly advise you against pursuing this point.” Apparently, he has a mom.
I know four months isn’t a long time on the job, but politics? Really, Dave? At least not until you’re better at judging people. The chick in linen and Birkenstocks who told you she wrote her thesis on the Renaissance Festival is probably not a Fox News viewer.
I liked him, nonetheless. He had the grace to concede the point when we argued about Maryland’s state sport.
Me: yeah, I know the powerful Lacrosse Lobby has tried to make lacrosse the state sport
Dave: several times, but why on earth should it bejousting?
Me: Are you kidding? Jousting is COOL. Who else has jousting?
Dave: no one, because no one jousts!
Me: and more’s the pity. Should we change the state bird from the Baltimore Oriole to the blackbird just because who ever sees Orioles anymore? Lose the crabcake in favor of a Big Mac? And our flag! It looks like a medieval pennant! It all fits together!
How could he not back down? I mean really. After narrowing my choices and looking at fabrics (blech. Why can’t I just get a bright purple varigated fabric that hides stains? Surely that’d be as big a seller as the country blue faux-velvet. Also, I’m drawn to geometric prints like a magpie to shiny, but when I play with the on-line couch creator tools, they all end up looking like motel sofas), I headed home.
I post my decision to my online buddies who promptly inform me that “semi-attached” back cushions are just as bad, if not worse, than the loose ones. Which puts me back at square one. And the temptation to just throw a sheet over this couch and pretend I’m protecting a valuable antique.