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The Quest for the Perfect Couch

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Earlier this August most of the residents of the block of apartments I live in moved back to dormitory housing for the start of their college school year. I was one of three people in the whole block that wasn’t moving, and as a result I got my pick of the random stuff left behind by the people moving out (EPIC LOOT!). Apart from the several pots, pans, toasters, bookshelves, and spatulas that I scrounged, I was particularly interested in acquiring a second couch. At the time I had one couch and an armchair that my housemate had left behind when he moved out to go to Florida for Law School. He obviously expected to only need beach chairs where he was going, since the armchair was rather nice and I wondered briefly why he would leave such a nice piece of furniture behind. However, as anyone who’s ever had people over to watch a movie or play a board game knows, one couch is never enough. One couch creates an awkward crush of humanity squeezing onto the couch, isolating the people on either end from each other, and usually ends up with the host (read: me) sitting on the floor so that there’s room for all my guests to be comfortable. Now, I don’t particularly mind sitting on the floor, but presented with the chance to rest my hindquarters on a more agreeable surface for the duration of a motion picture I will definitely choose to sit on it.

Also, the floor is lava.


Faced with this dilemma, I set out to find myself a smallish couch. I had 2 major criteria for couches, and they were (I thought), rather simple ones.

1. The couch must be free of insects.

2. The couch must not be smelly.

Unfortunately, I had chosen the two criteria that fit approximately zero couches in the world owned by single college students and graduates in the halfway-house that is my apartment block. I hunted through building after building, room after room, desperately trying to find one couch that didn’t play host to colonies of bugs. I at one point almost settled on a tolerable colony of moths before I realized that there were wasps hatching out of the dead ones. I hate wasps. Anything that is born by punching through the body of its host after feeding on them for their whole gestation period is quite freaky to me. And yeah, I know I’ve just labeled anyone born by C-section creepy. Just don’t tell me about it if you’re one of them and we’ll get along just fine.

Anyway, my second criterion was also impossible to meet. Every couch in the whole block seemed to have held on to a strong odor passed on to it by its previous owner like they were a possessive relative desperately trying to hold on to something to remember a dead loved one by. BO, Doritos, girly perfume (not objectionable in and of itself, but not something I want to smell like after sitting on my couch), and even what I suspect was probably baked beans emanated from couches across the block.

Then… I saw it. A white couch, with no bugs living in, on, around, or next to it. It smelled like sweet nothing. I nearly cried. I placed it in my apartment, smiled with satisfaction, and sat down.

About then my housemate called and said that the armchair he’d had in our apartment actually belonged to a friend of his who was coming by later to get it. As soon as I hung up with him said acquaintance walked in the door and reclaimed his chair. Upon turning to leave, glanced at my new couch and stopped. I, being quite pleased with my new furniture, was about to recount my harrowing tale of couch-questing when he laughed and said “Hey, awesome! He grabbed my couch for me too!”

I needed several hours to compose myself after he left.

The next day I decided to try one more time to find the couch that I so desperately needed (which basically meant at this point that I was so tired of failing that I wanted to give myself one last chance to succeed. I’m like a couch gambler.) I spent about an hour looking everywhere I could, and finally decided that I was just fated to sit on the floor for eternity. Just then, one of the other 2 people who hadn’t moved out came out of their apartment. “Hey man,” he said in a voice I can only describe as angelic, “do you want a couch? I’ve got a spare I’m about to get rid of.”

It didn’t stink.

It had no bugs.

It was sort of blue.

I said yes, thanked the man profusely, and then dragged the couch back to my apartment. My ex-housemate called a few hours after I put the couch in. I, fearful he was going to tell me another friend of his was about to come and steal my couch, let him go to voicemail.

Sorry, Tim.

I'm stil too afraid to listen to the voice mail.