(I am loving that word. Gladsome. It's so festive, don't you think?)
So I have this couch.
Only it isn't a couch, really, it's the bent wood frame of a couch with a grid of hard metal straps where you're supposed to put your sitter and a few hardwood slats across the back. The cushions've long since been discarded - a cruel collection dusty, dirty, colorless upholstery, aged yellow and rotten foam rubber, and rusty springs. You know those deep, fluffy, inviting sofas you just want to collapse into and snuggle up, sighing deeply and curling your legs up under you?
Yes? Well, this is not one of those.
But I've had it since I graduated from college and moved into my first apartment, nestled snug in the heart of downtown Greenville, South Carolina, along the banks of the Reedy River. Before that, it belonged to my parents, who got it when THEY were just newlywedded little kids themselves, and even THEY got it and its matching chair second-hand. I suppose one might consider it a family heirloom by now?
I've moved it with me from apartment to apartment to house to house to storage unit for TWENTY YEARS people, saying with every move, "Oh YES, honey! I want to take that with us - I love that couch! I'm gonna have some new cushions made for it and refinish it and it'll be FANTASTIC! A SHOWPIECE!" For TWENTY YEARS I've had these grandiose plans, and for twenty years the thing has ended up shoved off into some dark, dank corner of my space, quietly but hopefully awaiting its return to greatness.
It's down in our newly re-organized basement now, and would be the perfect cozy little spot for the kids and their friends to plop down on to watch the little TV down there, except for its obvious limitations in the comfort department. And I'd finally break down and spend the money to have CU$TOM CU$HION$ made for it, but we're talking about CHILDREN here. Sticky, gooey, leaky children who are already rapidly converting my LEATHER furniture in the family room into what looks to be some close kin of Jabba the Hutt.
So me? I want to find a less expensive alternative. A stopgap, if you will, on the road back to eventual glory.
And as you know, in my world, all roads to glory have to pass through?
Which is where I found myself late one evening a few weeks ago. Scouring aisle after aisle for something to convert the shell of a couch into a pleasant perch for my children and their sticky, gooey pals.
First I found some rather nice dog beds, at $25 a piece. They were nothing more than large floppy cushions in some fabrics that I suppose maybe would be appealing to dogs? It wasn't appealing to ME, but I reckoned I'd slap four of them on the sofa frame and then cover them up with a comforter or blanket.
A hundred dollars worth of dog beds stuffed into my cart, I wheeled off hazardously (The aisles in Homegoods? THEY'RE AN INVITATION TO DISASTER FOR A KLUTZ LIKE ME!) to the sheets, blankets and bedspreads to find a suitable slipcover.
Which is when I saw THEM. Beautiful, fat, fluffy pristine white European-style pillows. Made by Mr. Calvin Klein himself! Bin after hastily-arranged bin of them. AND THEY WERE ON SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALE! My brain mechanisms churned haltingly into action, and I rifled through my purse and hauled out my trusty metal tape measure to determine immediately that six of these would cover that frame perfectly. PERFECTLY.
So I awkwardly carted my four tackily-upholstered dog beds back to their rightful place on the low shelves in the back corner and returned to punch six of Mr. Klein's now-ridiculously-cheap pillows down into my cart. I then discovered an ORANGE (radioactive sweet potato orange) comforter and two blue wedge pillows, ALSO MARKED DOWN TO NOTHIN', piled all that on top of Mt. Calvinous, and veeeeeeery slowly and teeteringly steered my haul up to the register.
The clerks at Homegoods know me as The Pillow Lady, as they've seen me through the purchase of over two-thirds of the 42 throw pillows currently in service at FriedOkra Manor, so they didn't so much as bat an eye at my current collection of goose down and muslin. "Great deal on these, huh?" my checker-outer commented.
"YE-HESS MA'AM!" I replied in breathless rapture.
Less than a hundred dollars and a few happy heal-clicks later, I was on my way out to the parking lot with my U-Haul full of cushiness, everything rocking shakily from side to side as I attempted to steer and balance this faltering UNBAGGED load out to my car.
Do you know why they call Chicago the Windy City?
Because I do.
In the fading light of dusk, as I gently eased my cart down a ramp and out into the main driveway of the heavily trafficked parking lot, I got a dose of Chicago wind that will live in infamy for the rest of my born days. A microburst of the coldest, meanest, most spiteful wind I've ever experienced SNATCHED THOSE PILLOWS AND THAT BRILLIANT ORANGE COMFORTER UP OUT OF MY CART and without so much as a "Hi, how ya doin'? Nice pillows you have there, mind if I take them for a spin?" WHIPPED THEM IN EVERY DIRECTION INTO AND ACROSS THAT PARKING LOT.
Cars skidded to a halt. Tired screeched. Fists were waved threateningly in my direction as I stood frozen, one hand bridling my cart and the other clinging desperately to the very SEAM of a blue wedge pillow, watching my prized purchases skittering over asphalt and concrete, farther and farther, under cars and out of sight.
I was both crushed and infuriated, people.
I stood crestfallen and watched. I silently cursed the stupid, stupid wind in this stupid, stupid prairie-arse town.
And then I hauled bummy out and across that parking lot, and I dived and dodged and scooped and trotted all over heck-and-half-of-Georgia collecting those pillows and depositing them into the back of my truck.
Then I drove home quietly, thankful for a BLOGGABLE EVENT THAT DOESN'T INVOLVE POOP OR SLEEPLESSNESS and full of excitement about getting these hard-won cushions on my NEW DEEP AND LUXURIOUS ORANGE FLUFFY KID-COUCH.
Long story short, they didn't work.
I put them on and Al and I attempted to sit down but were flung off sideways by the wobbly wads of down and fiber-fill. CAN YOU SAY ANTI-CLIMATIC?
Thwarted again, I dragged the cushions back upstairs and parked them by the front door so I could, on a perfectly windless day, put them back in my car and return them.
The next morning, the lady who cleans my house arrived via that same front door, took one look at the pillows, asked me with GREAT ENTHUSIASM where I'd gotten them and if there were any left, and in the blink of an EYE, people, found herself the proud owner of six fluffy pillows that had recently had the ride of their lives.
And I got my house cleaned for FREE.
I'm thinking I need to go to JoAnn's and buy some big slabs of thick foam rubber for that couch.
You'd better believe I will be VERY CHOOSY about what day I run THAT errand.