Smartmom sat on the Townsend couch in Room & Board’s second-floor showroom waiting for Hepcat to arrive.
She had to laugh. How had this couch thing gotten so out of hand? Was it really worth fighting about? For that matter, what was it really about? Were they fighting about a piece of furniture or the state of their lives?
Hepcat was late as usual. But no matter, Smartmom was determined to enjoy what she hoped would be their final couch-shopping expedition.
While she waited, she wondered whether their couch drama had been a power struggle or an aesthetic disagreement. Was it really about form and function or the dysfunctionality of their 20-year marriage?
Good questions. Smartmom felt a pang of sadness. If the two long marrieds had such a hard time agreeing on a new piece of furniture, was there any hope for peace in the Middle East or the health care bill?
Sitting on the soft chenille of the Townsend, she realized what a turbulent river she and Hepcat had crossed to get to the point where they could agree to pay the $1,399, plus tax and shipping, for a new couch to replace the 18-year-old Ikea divan that Hepcat loves.
When her hubby finally arrived, he and Smartmom walked around the store and revisited some of the other couches they had considered: there was the Andre, the Anson, the Metro and the York.
It didn’t take long for them both to agree that the Townsend was the one. It was comfortable, soft and easy on the eyes.
Then they got a phone call from the Oh So Feisty One saying that she was locked out of the apartment.
“We’ll be home in a half hour,” Smartmom told her. Sadly their shopping trip was cut short.
“So should we buy it?” Smartmom asked nervously.
“Let’s pay for it,” Hepcat said.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Yup, yup, yup,” Hepcat said — it’s what he always says when he wants to sound agreeable.
Smartmom knew it was time to make a decision. She knew it was time to let go of this disagreement and move on. Hand in hand (or was it only Smartmom’s imagination?), they walked over to a sales associate, paid for the couch and scheduled its delivery for exactly one week from that day.
What a strange feeling to have finally made a decision. The couch dilemma was over. What an accomplishment: PROGRESS.
When they got home, they told OSFO and Teen Spirit the good news.
“So these are the last days of the couch?” Teen Spirit said dispiritedly.
“Why do we have to get a new couch?” OSFO whined.
“I protest the removal of our couch,” Teen Spirit said and walked into his room.
Smartmom hoped they’d eventually adjust to the new couch. But there was an even more pressing matter to attend to. Smartmom e-mailed her friend Brooke Dramer — who had earlier expressed an interest in buying (believe it or not) the ratty old couch — and asked what she’d be willing to pay.
“What’s it worth to us?” she wrote back in an e-mail. “Well, let’s get together soon so we can look at (and measure) the Green Couch. It would be especially fun if Dave and I could sit on it with Hepcat and discuss how proud we are to be part of the .81 percent that voted for the Rev. Billy for mayor.”
“We’re thinking $300,” Smartmom replied. But Brooke wanted a measurement before committing.
“It’s 88 inches wide and 37 inches deep. Can you come see it before Saturday?”
“Oh, no! Eighty-eight inches is too big to fit with our furniture!” she wrote back. “Alas, the Saga of the Couch ends not with a bang, but a whimper. I would never stoop so low as to throw you a headline like ‘Size does matter.’ But in this case, I need eight inches. Before you say, ‘Who doesn’t?’ let me explain. The couch has to fit between an end table and an antique trunk — a space of less than 80 inches.”
So for the first time, a woman was complaining about something being eight inches longer than she wanted.
Smartmom didn’t understand why they couldn’t just move the end table and the antique trunk. But who was she to question the strange calculus of any relationship?
Smartmom was glum. It wasn’t going to be quite so easy to sell their green leather couch. Maybe they’d have to give it away. Or leave it on the street. In less than 24 hours, their new couch would arrive from Room & Board.
Smartmom was stressing. How would it look? Would it be comfortable? At 92 inches, would it be too big for their own truncated living room?
And what would Teen Spirit and OSFO think?
Tune in next week …