Saturday, June 11, 2011
The Quest for the Big Comfy Couch
In a perfect world, furniture stores would host nap time. Around 2 p.m. every day, they would dim their lights, maybe play When Harry Met Sally or some other familiar movie on a huge screen, and they would allow their customers to test out their couches for what I like to call napability (actually I just made this up, but from now on I will call it napability, thus making this statement more or less true). Around 3 p.m., the lights could come up, and the customers could wipe the drool off their mouths, pick up their pillows (gotta be sanitary somehow, right?), and evaluate the napability of the couches they tried out. Couples could spoon for an hour to see if they both fit. The couch arm-to-couch cushion distance could be measured in the most practical way, with an hour long nap, so as to prevent neck cricks and back pain. We could wake up to warm chocolate chips cookies and milk. Okay, that one might be pushing it. But really, in a perfect world, you would never end up with the world's most uncomfortable couch. Here's how I ended up with mine.
It was 2005. My living room had several large pieces of furniture that desperately needed replacing. My couch and love seat were hand-me-downs from my parents. They had seen me through my high school and college years in my parents' home and then eventually they made the trip with me from Corpus Christi, Texas to Murfreesboro, Tennessee and then a final move to Portland, Tennessee. I am sure these couches were cute in the 90's... not so much in 2005. They were burgundy tapestry with flowers of gold and sage. They were not hideous, but they were old. I have pictures of me sitting on this couch in high school with various boyfriends, and then more pictures of boyfriends that came to Texas to visit while I was home for breaks during college. After years of providing seating for me, my siblings, and our random dates, this furniture moved to Tennessee with me and was often home to my brother Craig (my Tennessee roommate for for years), his blanket, and the remote control. In his defense, he traveled and sang for a living, often traveling overnight and sleeping very little. So when he would come home, his first day or two was spent on the couch, recovering. Then I had married, moved the couch to my new home, and my sister's little boys moved in. For an entire year, these couches endured the beating that only toddler boys can give. They jumped on, poured milk on, climbed across, kicked, and did heaven knows what else to this furniture. It was time for the couch and love seat to go. So I started shopping.
Red. I wanted red. I hired an interior designer that I met at an upholstery store to come out to my tiny house in the country for a consultation. She shook her head no as I told her. You will hate a red couch. What about a tan couch with red pillows? One hour and $85 later, I sent her home. I didn't know anything but that I definitely wanted a red couch and I definitely did not want to hire her to decorate. A few weeks later, I said goodbye to my tapestry couch and love seat, having nothing with which to replace it. For three months, my living room had zero seating. The kids thought it was awesome. The living room was a wide open space, perfect for running and flipping and wrestling. Thankfully, we didn't have cable so there was no quandary about where to sit while watching TV.
One lazy Saturday afternoon, I strolled into a Lazboy furniture store, and there it was. It was red, perfectly simple. It was a floor model, and it was on sale. I wanted it. End of story. Oh, I did the random tests that people feel comfortable doing while in public, in front of sales people. I sat on it, held the ridiculous floral pillows in my lap, arms crossed. I tried to imagine myself sitting on this couch, holding babies and reading books in my pajamas. I sort of bounced up and down a few times very lightly. I have never understood the purpose of this test, but everyone does it when trying out couches. And I was sold. I paid for it, and I had it delivered two days later.
I found perfect pillows at Pottery Barn. I purchased a fluffy throw blanket, just perfect for covering my legs while reading. I made up rules about when the kids were and weren't allowed on the couch. Basically, the rules were just one rule... if you are a child and you are freshly bathed and pajama-d (yes, I just turned that into a verb), you are allowed on the couch, otherwise, no way. If you have little boys, you understand this rule. If you don't have boys, please borrow three little boys from a friend and turn them loose in your living room... you will understand. I kept the couch free from Sharpie markers and chocolate syrup and crayons. And you know what I got in return? A backache. I had just purchased the world's most uncomfortable couch. It's fine to sit on... for about 45 minutes anyway. And then I find myself adjusting and readjusting, trying to find a way to sit that does not send a shooting pain up my spine. The napability level is a 2 on a 1-10 scale. I don't always realize it while I am napping, but the second I stand up, my 34 year old body reminds me of the failure that is my couch.
Last night Jake and I sat on this couch and watched a movie. Because the couch is as deep as it is comfortable, there is no lounging on it. Basically, we have to sit side by side, careful not to get any crazy ideas of having any physical contact other than hand holding. The couch does not allow for it. So I abandon all ideas of curling up next to my husband and we sit upright, feet propped up on the ottoman, praying that the back pain doesn't start until the end of the movie is in sight. And last night, we made an important decision. We are definitely buying a new couch. It doesn't have to be red. It just has to be comfortable. We briefly checked out Craigslist, and throwing out the poorly lit photographs, homes with smoke and pets, and the outdated styles, we were left with nothing. So the furniture shopping will begin soon. I will leave behind my pride, and I will test out each couch prospect thoroughly. I will go armed with my pillow and possibly a blanket. I might stuff a portable DVD player and some chocolate chip cookies into my purse as well, just for the heck of it. And if any of you are interested in purchasing a red couch, one that is suitable for looking at only, never for sitting or lounging or napping, please let me know. I have one I will sell you for a great price.