Jan 17, 2005

I can not buy this couch

It's the couch that has been evading me for over two years. The couch I love dearly. I've tried to buy it six or seven times. But it can't be bought. Believe me. I can not buy this couch.

The first time I saw it was at an antique store way up north. I was walking through the store and there it stood. Well made. Italian. Kitsch yet elegant. Perfectly proportioned and seeming to all but float on it's narrow chrome legs. It was just the right shade of the palest blue. A mid-century asymmetric wonder. Its upholstery was soft to the touch. Velvety. And textured with a not-too-over-the-top atomic fifties pattern. And it was pristine. The only explanation being that it must have been hiding beneath plastic slipcovers for the last forty years. It was a beautiful couch that had been released from it's plastic cage and was now ready to live and breathe as it should.


Now, I love furniture. I have seen a lot of furniture. But this was the best couch I had ever seen. And it was fairly priced considering all that it had to offer. I stood there looking at it for a very long time. I decided that it was mine. That I would forever refer to this couch as the divan, though secretly I would name it Laura Pertrie, because all great couches have names. I got totally swept away. But, then, some minutes later, I found myself pulling back away. I couldn't justify buying this couch. I remembered that I was trying to get rid of things. That I had a couch. That I was broke. Then, of course, when I got home I decided it wouldn't hurt to go back and take another look. And (of course) by the time I returned to the store in the morning, it was gone. Sold. And I admit, I was a little relieved. And I got on with my life, or so I thought.

Then, it was about six months later that I wandered into a local vintage clothing store. I had been searching all day for something to wear to a wedding. I was so caught up in this search that I almost didn't notice. And then I couldn't believe my eyes. There it was. The couch. Unmistakably the very same couch. They were using it as part of a display in the middle of the store. A mannequin, dressed in a gray and pale blue plaid pencil skirt with a gray sweater-set, sat sort of lounging on (and oddly color coordinating with) my dream couch. I had to do something. I just came right out and asked the woman who had been helping me about the couch.

She, behaving as if she had dealt with this query a few too many times, told me that it was not for sale. I asked if I could leave a message for the owner. Sensing my urgency, she informed me, No.. Bernice would never consider parting with the couch, and went on to tell me that it was rumored that the couch would soon be transported to Bernice's new house (after the house was finished being painted or fixed or floors refinished or whatever it was). I said, ok, but added that I'd like to leave a note for the owner anyway, you know.. just in case. Because now I was flooded with regret. The couch was even better than I remembered. The woman, saying nothing more on the subject, just took the note out of my hand and tore it up into little pieces. Needless to say, I bought my dress with it's missing belt and slightly torn hem, and left.

But this wasn't over. I decided I would go back and try to talk to Bernice myself. So the next morning I (armed with a purse full of cash) walked right over to the store. And when I got there I couldn't believe it. The store's windows were soaped over. I just kept trying to blink away what I was seeing, and checking to see if I was at the right address. I looked in the window where it wasn't quite soaped over, and I saw that everything except the couch was gone. The couch, looking quite abandoned, stood there in the center of the empty rubble (and millions of beer cans) of what I can only imagine must have been the hastiest move ever. I looked around to see if there was a note or something explaining where they had moved. Then I called. Nothing. No machine. And nobody, I mean nobody knew what was up with that store.

For a few days I just kept walking past, looking into the window at the abandoned couch. My couch. All sorts of things went through my mind. And the whole thing did indeed take on a life of it's own, as the people who knew about all of this started getting crazy ideas in their heads. I must say, there was more than one vodka and cigarette saturated night spent around the table where schemes concerning the liberation of the couch were discussed, hatched, planned. All the while the couch waited, only a few blocks away. Of course, it was all just a lot of talk. Pipe dreams. The kind of thing that gets people through the worst part of winter, I guess.

Then, if you can believe it, I forgot all about the couch for the better part of a year. I had a surprise personal adventure that led me far and away from my unanswered questions pertaining to the couch. And when I did think of the couch, which at this point was only rarely, I tried to imagine it in a better place. That is, not in a land-fill as I feared, but indeed in Bernice's living room where it belonged. It was the only thing that was acceptable, and this got me through.

Which leads me to last Friday. I was out with my mom, scrambling down Wells trying to get quickly to our destination without freezing to death, when I just stopped dead in my tracks. It was the couch. Again. And again it was being used as a store display. Only this time it was positioned in the store's window (where the sun was going to fade that perfect blue if they weren't careful). I was so shocked and hysterical that I could barely explain to my mother the whole thing. But somehow she got it. She sort of put up her hand like, say nothing more.

We went in. My mom said something to the effect of, just follow my lead.. or just act natural.. and, finally, seeing how keyed up I was, she said, just let me handle this. She seemed so dead serious, that for a moment I felt really confident about what was about to transpire. She went over and talked with someone named Paul off to the side. They had a lengthy, hushed conversation that looked from where I stood like a couple of people who were very genuinely, very politely, very heatedly trying to convince the other party something that neither party wanted to accept. It was clear. The couch was not for sale. Rather, I accept that I can not buy this couch. And, again, I feel almost relieved. It is out of my hands. I need not pursue this couch any further. Or any couch ever again. That is what I really want to believe.

29 comments:

  1. You have such a talent.

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  2. I enjoyed that, thank you. I'll check back for an update :-)

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  3. Oh Vic! You write the neatest things...

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  4. Perhaps it is a blessing that this couch cannot be yours. Could this couch be cursed? What happened to Bernice and her store? Gone in the middle of the night with only the couch left behind sitting in a vacant store surrounded by beer cans. I suspect foul play. If anything you should be warning the new owners of the couch. Poor Bernice lost her business and maybe even her life. It's probably just a coincidence, but are you willing to take that risk?

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  5. For some reason I picture you sitting at your kitchen table smoking, gazing out the window, thinking of lovely winter activities and gingerbread houses... when suddenly you realize your spare hand has been feverishly scribbling something onto a piece of paper. you look down and relize it's the couch drawn so heavily in pencil. You scream in disbelief then put your own cigarette out in your posessed hand.

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  6. I have been thinking about this couch for too much of the day and I wonder if it's a sofa sleeper.

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  7. The couch stands for something bigger, deeper and more fraught with dispair...

    What could its illusive meaning be?

    Lost love?
    Lost dreams?
    Lost pants?

    Lost change?--- hmm...

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  8. The fact that you wanted to name her Laura Petrie tells me everything I ned to know about you. I love that.

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  9. Nah, Vic - you're the only sane one out of all of us! ;)

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  10. As long as you don't do what the monkies in your hair tell you to do, then you are completely sane. I think?!?

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  11. You don't really know a couch until you take a nap in it, and copulate on it.

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  12. Victoria - what's up with the job situation? Anything new to tell us?

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  13. I have grown close to my couch. My wife has forced me into this situation.

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  14. A 2001 Space Odyssey. Insert couch for strange floating object.

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  15. I have been having the hardest time getting into my own blog. Get a lot of "website not responding". Wonder if anyone else has been experiencing this..?

    Kim, It looks like early Feb for the new job.. fingers crossed, and thank you for asking. I will definitely write about new job. Should be funny.. me trying to integrate into the real world (that is if I ever am able to get back into my blog after today)

    WJ, I can see what you're imagining.. this couch as the object, with that particular score and with space as a backdrop.. I wish I had a photo of the couch to post. If I did I would post it to look just like that.

    LBB, there will be no eating, sleeping or any kind of activity on the couch EVER! I'm going to have no choice but to put the plastic back on the couch, heh-heh.. Oh, that's right. I don't have the couch.

    Wink, I can't get into my own blog. WTF?

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  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  17. Blogger's been having quite a lot of molasses in the asses the last couple of days. It isn't you Mizz Emily.

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  18. Poor Laura Petrie, she probably wants to be owned by you too...

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  19. Hey V.

    I meant no harshness t'all on my blog. I was being a poor communicator. That's all.

    I want more possessed furniture stories.

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  20. (Hey man, I know, I was just being dorky..).
    WJ, I'm so blog blocked. I have blog block. What's the matter with me?

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  21. Victoria. Come back and post already. I need more of your humor. Withdrawals...

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  22. Vic, have you gotten into your blog yet? WTF WTF WTF!!!

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  23. Victoria-
    The couch story makes me kind of sad. But the Isaac dog makes me happy. When you get your new place go to petfinder.com and put in "wire haired terrier" in the breed box. That's how we found the Isaac. And he is even cooler than he appears in the photos.

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  24. Thank you.. I love Isaac, he looks like a good doggie, underbite (especially) and all! I will remember this tip!

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  25. A couch name Laura Petrie... This is funny, because I have a smoke detector named "Carl Reiner" and a fork I named "The Human Joke Machine" in honor of Morey Amsterdam/Buddy Sorrell. Actually, none of that's true, but I'm totally gonna start naming things after Dick van Dyke Show characters. I think I'll start by naming my refrigerator "Mel Cooley".

    Also, I think your couch story would make a good movie. The promo would go "Fate kept them apart..." and then a shot of your character yelling "Just stay upholstered, no matter what occurs!"

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