The latest fiasco arose a few weeks ago when I purchased a second-hand sofa to fill out the sparse accouterments of my erstwhile home. (Given my lifestyle, it’s hard to let the roots grow too deeply in any one location. It’s been rather difficult, up until now, to judge precisely when the Heavy End of the Hammer’s going to fall and precipitate a sudden change of address.) Even in spite of my proclivity for vagrant tendencies, I’ve gotten sort of grounded in my current locale and the addition of recent domesticating factors made the purchase of a new couch advisable. In other words, I didn’t particularly relish the thought of listening to an endless listing of reasons why I needed a new couch; neither did I want to see a continual posting of charts, diagrams and tri-colored graphs that would provide the empirical data necessary to promoting the logical impetus for the aforementioned purchase, regardless of fiduciary, emotional or even imaginary crises. And since, as a bachelor, I had given precious little concern to things like furniture, I knew that I was destined, in my new role as a Domestique, to endure just such haranguing unless I replaced my Love Seat.
I think that most Single Men have a deep seeded fear of purchasing furniture; it tends to have an air of permanence that we find unappealing in general.
But Single Men have many fears and they can usually be divided into two simple categories: 1: Logical and, 2: Irrational. As for number one, the most serious fears that any Single Man entertains may seem disparate at first, but they are closely linked. There are, namely (in due course and proper order) A: Sexually Transmitted Disease and B: Erectile Dysfunction. Either of these fears is very real and any resulting symptoms in either direction are cause for immediate concern and must be addressed, post haste, by highly-trained professionals in a secure, clean and well-lighted facility. Once these Logical fears have been assuaged, or at least avoided, the second tier of fears comes into play and they can vary greatly according to personal preference, individual disposition and time of day or even imaginative capacity. For me, category two usually follows thusly: A: Werewolves, B: Vampires, C: Floods and D: Robots. I realize that these fears are obviously irrational but I mention them only to demonstrate just how little worry any Single Man is going to waste on his woefully underdeveloped sense of style when choosing home furnishings.
My goal was to make the process as quick and painless as possible. As any of you well know, shopping for any thing causes any woman any where to descend into the maniacal throes of an ecstasy that can, I imagine, be readily and accurately compared to what religious fanatics refer to as being “Filled with The Spirit.” I just wanted to avoid the hours of endlessly perusing the furniture sections of countless outlets that appeal to the well-informed, high-minded and discerning tastes of people who might actually give a damn about home décor. So I merely gave in immediately and we purchased the cheapest, yet still satisfactory, sofa that we saw. It was, indeed, a second-hand purchase and the thing was hideously ugly but it only took two hours to find it, buy it and get it back to my place and that was all I cared about. Little did I realize that the petulant ecstasy of buying the thing would only serve to whet her appetite for the Real Fun of totally rearranging my Place and all the flotsam of the life I had lived up until then. So, figuring that my job was finished with the purchase, hauling and initial placement of the beast, I left her to her own devices. In other words, I ducked out to avoid the hours-long Inquisition that inevitably proceeds and follows any facet of feminine décor management that involves the placement and replacement of any and all furniture.
When I returned, I found that she had done a reasonably good job and, aside from the general ugliness of the thing, it seemed to fit well with the other odd assortments and hotchpotch trappings that adorned our humble abode and gave the inescapable impression that a gang of truant gypsies lived there. But I couldn’t have cared less. All I knew was that I no longer had to hear about the impending doom and bloody carnage that would surely befall us in the not-too-distant future if we failed to rectify the ominous “Couch Question.” I found that my love seat had been only slightly relegated to second-rate status and it still stood there, albeit forced back into a non- offensive corner, and I could almost feel its unease, as if it were aware of the new couch in some way and it seemed shrunken even; as if it wished to avoid any closer contact with the new interloper that had invaded its home and usurped its place of honor. I wondered fleetingly if my old love seat somehow knew something that I didn’t or if it perhaps had a foreboding knowledge of some unseen danger that lurked within our midst, waiting to spring upon us when we least expected it.
But, luckily, I was able to exile these thoughts to the same oblivion that I use to banish unwanted information about bed linens, recipes and tampons.
But my apprehension grew steadily. I began to notice that the new sofa seemed to be brooding if it went unused and that it exuded a kind of anthropomorphic and sinister glee if I actually sat on it. And I took to looking wistfully at my old love seat and to feel as if I was cheating on it somehow by sitting on the new couch. I started to sit on the love seat again much to the consternation of my housemate and she began to accuse me of not liking the new one and she began to pester me about why I didn’t like it and what could I possibly hold against it. It was becoming a wedge being driven between us. Already, I realized, the new sofa had become a dark and malevolent presence in our home.
I came home one day and just stood there, studying the thing in all of its brutal reality. It truly was ugly but I can’t bring myself to hate it on a purely aesthetic level; it was adorned with a very busy, multi-colored pattern that gave it an almost dizzying, kaleidoscopic appearance. I began to suspect that it was, even as I stared at it, hypnotizing me in some strange way.
There I was, swaying on uneven legs in my own living room; bedazzled by this strange thing.
I decided to put these thoughts out of my mind, as much for my own mental health as anything else, and to make peace with the new sofa. After all, it was only a piece of furniture and it couldn’t hurt me…could it? I decided that the new sofa and I would spend the night together. So I waited until she had drifted off to bed and I set up camp on the new sofa and settled in to watch a few films and finally get over my weird misgivings about this thing. I stretched out to better enjoy my film viewing from the more traditionally accepted supine position that most Americans tend to associate with lounging about the house. Eventually, I dozed blissfully off with the flashing blue lights of the film still gamboling around the walls.
That’s when it happened. I awoke from a fitful and dark, disturbed sleep; filled with nightmares of being sucked down between the cushions and spat out into some unknown netherworld for which this evil couch was the only known portal, to find myself flung off the couch and I landed in the floor with an unceremonious thump and rolled over onto the area rug, wide-eyed and afraid. Why, the damned thing was practically laughing at me. By God, I swear I could almost hear it. I stared at it and it did seem to be breathing; slowly inflating, swelling and depressing, mocking me in my fear. I crawled away from the beast and clutched the love seat. I could feel it trembling beneath me. The new sofa was there, looming over us in all its evil glory and practically glowing with an eerie, sepulchral light. I screamed in my panic and she came running out of the bedroom, demanding to know what had happened.
“That damned couch attacked me and threw me into the floor. It hates me and it hates this love seat! Who knows what it might do next? Any of us could be its next victim!”
“You’re nuts,” she said yawning, already heading back to bed. “You just had a nightmare and rolled off.”
I would have to join this battle without her knowledge. She would never understand the struggle which I as about to undertake; a war for our lives and possibly for our very souls and for the final disposition of my once-favored and ill-used love seat. How could she even suggest that my experience was the result of some half-baked, somnambulist hallucination? This was Real and I had to act fast.
I looked across the room to where the phone lay and I mentally inventoried all the numbers I knew that might connect me with anyone who could help with this case. I inched toward it but held fast when I realized that the Beast was still watching me. I held on to the love seat and the air between us and the Beast crackled with energy and anticipation. I held my breath and wondered: Who would make the next move?