lost one of my best friends the other day. It was with me almost 15 years but my wife was very happy about this because she had wanted a new couch for a while, and there was tell-tale evidence of age in the old couch in the form of gaping holes and discolored upholstery.
Not that I cared, because the couch and I went back a long way together. I remembered when it was new. We bought it at a tent sale at a furniture store that went out of business a long time ago. It was raining and the owner of the store had surrounded the tent with plastic so that his merchandise would not get wet.
I assumed the couch was a surplus item because it was marked down. It caught my eye as we walked through the tent, which the owner forgot to ventilate. Every now and then you had to go outside to get some air, so you wouldn’t pass out and die on some of his merchandise. I remember being immediately attracted to the thing that would become part of the history of me for the next 15 years.
No matter how many times we walked around the tent we always ended up in front of the couch. It was almost as if we were drawn to it. Its upholstery stood out from everything else to the point that it appeared to be calling for us to bring it home. It was a country-style couch, whatever the heck that is, with wide arms and a high back. Until then I always thought furniture was supposed to be black, white or gray but, my wife liked it a lot and told me to sit on it and even lie down on it.
I did sit down on it and I remember thinking it was very comfortable. I also remember liking the smell of it. I did not lie on it because, in order to do that, I would need a TV in front of me and a cold beer in my hand however we bought the couch. The furniture store delivered it the next day and put it in our family room beneath three large windows that overlooked the bird sanctuary. Some people called it a swamp but I preferred the term of bird sanctuary. Over the years the sun flooding through the windows faded the couch into a pastel version of its original self.
The couch immediately became part of my family’s life. The first people to nest on it were my daughter and her friends. They came over most every afternoon after school to talk about things teenage girls need to talk about. My daughter was the first to spill something on the couch, which was quite remarkable because, traditionally, it would have been me. At first my wife was upset by the dark stain that marred the arm of the couch but she soon got over it and purchased some of those arm coverings that made the spilling of things more bearable.
Other people would leave their imprint on the couch over the years. Whenever my wife’s mother and father came to visit they would always sit on that couch. He was a large man who took up most of the couch while his wife was tiny and would be pushed up against one arm. When they left there would be a big hollow in the cushions where he sat and nothing at all where his wife sat, to suggest that she had even been there.
Our house was a place where everyone would come together to meet, play and celebrate the fact that we were friends and family. Just looking at that couch would bring back memories of all those people who were no longer with us. Friends and visitors who shared good times with our family, never dreaming that destiny was about to cut their lives short and no matter how many people plopped their butts on it at one time, that couch never gave way because it knew exactly how important it had become to our family.
I even earned the title `psycho dad’ because of that couch. One night I couldn’t sleep and, while checking that all was well with the world, discovered that my daughter was not in her room. I went out to the family room to discover that her boyfriend had decided to sneak in during the night and was attempting to use the couch to take their relationship to another level. I gave him a choice of leaving by the door or the window, although my wife and daughter told me later that my language was a little more explicit than that.
It must have worked because I never did see that bag of hormones again. I had also spent many a night on that couch. Sometimes because I did something that my wife, according to her logic, considered really stupid and sometimes because I did not have the energy to get up and go to bed. But, for most of the past 15 years, I have to say I spent many a pleasant evening on that couch just watching television or reading a book.
Over time the couch literally molded itself to my body. I knew exactly where to sit or lie and also knew exactly where to put my head when my neck became too weak to keep it up. This probably accounted for the hole that appeared in one of the arms because of the acidic sweat from my head that carved out the perfect headrest. Then came the day when it was time to say goodbye to this piece of furniture that had become such an integral part of my life.
I felt anxious as I watched the workmen manoeuvring the couch out of our home on its final journey. I noticed they were scraping the back with the door jamb and I yelled at them to be a bit more careful. One of them told me the door jamb would be fine and I answered that I was talking about the couch. He gave me a queer look and reminded me that the couch was going to end up in a dump somewhere where no one would worry about an added scratch or two.
I realized how foolish I must have sounded and managed an embarrassed smile but then I had to turn away because I didn’t want them to see the tears that I felt forming in my eyes. From the window I watched them carry the couch outside into the cold winter air to load it onto their truck and carry it off to the dump.
Then, I couldn’t hold myself back and before I knew it I was out the door and running down the steps. Would they mind putting it in the back of my pick-up instead? I asked. They exchanged glances with each other but did as I asked and put it in the back of my truck. The next day I took it to school and put it in a corner of my office with all of its faded and worn cushions and comfortable hollow in one arm.
Some friendships just aren’t meant to end.
The folly of trying to part a couch potato from his couch
by J. G. Fabiano.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and a writer living in York, Maine, USA
e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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