Saturday, May 21, 2011

The big, comfy couch

When my husband and I were newlyweds, we lived across the street from a very nice family with four boys. The matriarch was a great mom, neighbor and friend, but there was one thing that bothered me about her — her couch.

It was the rattiest thing I’d ever seen. OK, not ever, but still pretty unsightly. We, on the other hand, had just purchased a beautiful white leather couch. Whenever I’d go visit, I would shake my head and mutter under my breath, “Why don’t they buy new furniture?”

Fifteen years later, as I sat on my faded, cracked, now off-white couch with children of my own, I realized she had four good reasons not to.

Looking back on it, my parents were the same way. We had an orange, brown, yellow and black plaid couch as long as I can remember. It’s a constant in all our family pictures. In fact, it wasn’t until my sister and I moved out that they got a new one.

Of course, there are other extremes, my grandmother kept plastic on hers for the longest time. I grew up living in fear of that couch and thought that eating on it was a mortal sin.

As for my family, we enjoyed our pretty white couch with built-in recliners on each end until the day the recliners would no longer go down, and pillows couldn’t hide the tears in the leather. The kids aren’t quite grown, but it was time for a new one. I just had to talk my husband into it.

I began by giving him a coupon for a recliner for Christmas. He opened it and looked a little disgusted.

“What?” I asked.

“You never bought me the recliner that you promised me last year or the year before.”

I had apparently given him a coupon for furniture for the past several years.

“You have to go sit in it,” I said.

He looked disgusted again.

So, to make things easier for me — I mean him — I scoped out some that had potential. My husband shops in the big and tall section and needed a couch that matched. My requests for extra-long recliners got some strange looks from sales people. It might have something to do with the fact that I’m 5 feet, 2 inches.

After stretching myself as far as I could go, I narrowed it down to a few choices and managed over a recent weekend to lure him into the store. He tried a few, but each lacked the key factor that he was looking for.

As we marched into our final store, he realized what it was and declared, “I want something with power!”

I snorted and asked, “How hard is it to pull a handle?”

But the salesman nodded in complete understanding. Perhaps it was a man thing, I thought.

That was before I sat in one.

Today, I’m proud and slightly ashamed to say we’re the owners of not one, but two couches with built-in power recliners. Despite my earlier prejudice, I do most of my work — thanks to my laptop — after pushing that magic button to just the right position. The downside of finding the right position, however, is inevitably someone will need something. I find myself saying, “Oh, come on! I just pushed the button.”

To which my daughter responded that an eject button might be in order.

As for our old couch, it was a bittersweet day when the truck came to take it away. My husband and I stood at the kitchen window and watched it break in half as the truck picked it up and dropped it with a bang into the back.

It may have been ratty and without power, but on that couch, I snuggled with babies, nursed sick little ones, helped my children with their elementary school homework, scolded them for stray ink marks and laughed at many an episode of “Seinfeld.”

I miss it already. Now, will someone please bring me a glass of water? I just pushed the button.

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