I anticipate a landmark series on the topic of Turning Forty. They will be deep, thought provoking, and introspective. They will reflect many years of personal growth and the relentless pursuit of truth and authenticity. Likely to be an inspiration to many, the utter selflessness and absolute disregard for the lust after things will be the impetus for global change for women everywhere.
You know how most women say they want a breast augmentation, a touch of liposuction and a trip to Paris to celebrate their fortieth birthday? Well, I'm way above all that. Way above all, all, all of it. Such trivial, selfish, wasteful, and meaningless things would never have a grip on my heart. Not a corner. Not a shelf. Nope, my hopes are much more noble than all that.
baseboards in my kitchen!!
a functional closet!!!
AND A COUCH!!!!!
A REAL COUCH!!!!!!
Sorry. Was that my "out loud" keyboard? So sorry.
Its just that my first couch was purchased for $8.00 at a yard sale. It was one of those twenty foot long thingies in brown textile that all of your Mennonite forefathers now have in their musty basements with an afghan thrown over the back. It came with an airmchair. It didn't cost extra. When my friends and I had a few young men over for dinner one night and they all fit onto the couch, it did this really neat thing where it slowly leaned over to the right, and then the little wooden legs just crumpled beneath it. For a long while after that, it was a really low, long couch. And really, really brown.
But then I got lucky. A friend from work got herself a puppy and mostly kept it around to eat things. After it ate all her leather pumps and a few of her kids favourite stuffies, and maybe even a kid or two, It ate a large portion of one end of her couch. It hadn't gotten around to eating the loveseat yet, so I was the lucky and grateful recipient of another "new" couch and loveseat. For many, many, many years, and five separate locations, we enjoyed those blue couches. A throw blanket was always on the right side of the main couch, and guests were given strict instructions to never touch or remove it, or to fall into the crevace left by the overindulged mut.
But alas, they refused to endure forever. After patching the tearing upholstery a million times or more, we gave our youngster a pair of scissors, sat her on the couch , and encouraged her to develop some skills before the inevitability of school.
It was time to move up in the world. Time to put out some big bucks. My pa found us a lovely hide-a-bed at the thrift shop for $50.00. It was sheer nostalgic joy, hauling that 531 pound brown beauty into our humble home. Around about the same time, a colleague of Brian's was downsizing from a house to an apartment and had some furniture for sale. We really lightened our wallets that time, and got the couch and two matching chairs for a whopping $250.00. I tell ya, it took some constraint not to invite the mayor, the minister, and the in-laws straight over to have a look at those beauties. But my humility prevailed. I hated to think of making anyone envious for my things.
And so, things hummed along for a number of years. The children multiplied. We found some friends who found us both tolerable. We added some cats, some rats, and some elephants; a budgie, a daycare, plus our kids kept hauling other kids home, even though we yelled and swore and threw rocks at them from the front door. That grey couch, still our secret pride and joy (not) was just inadequate for the number of bums frequenting the joint.
And that's when I found my favourite couch of all. The beautiful old green one. The one they made back in the day when the upholstery was meant to last a lifetime and actually did. The one with the beautifully carved wooden legs and the plush seat cushions set upon durably springy springs. When I first laid eyes on it, it was parked at the rear door of the thrift shop and I badly wanted to steal it. But what with all the personal development and maturity and all, I waited until the following day so I could properly purchase that gem. Well, that's the last time I'll ever be silly enough to ignore my initial sense of whats right and proper. When I returned the next day, those legs were gone. Gone! And so, they sold me that couch for $5.00. It was disappointing that I was bringing home a parapalegic, but the price was right so I made good use of the four thousand or so cans of tuna I had left over from that whole Y2K scare.
So, things went a long swimmingly for a time. We buried a lot of popcorn in those couches, lounging around and watching family movies, or lazing away Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings with a good book or magazine. The cats enjoyed napping on them and double dutying by using the sides to sharpen their claws on. But. While we were away one weekend, the cats got sick. Very, very sick. And after renting a upholstery cleaner, dumping toxic, chernobyl amounts of chemical into the depths of its seating, and Then hauling it outside to pressure wash...... with the garden hose....... the lucrative grey couch has never been quite the same.
Unrelated to the cats, and more likely due to the expanse and generosity of the bums planted on the green couch..... Those everlasting springs have sent multiple staples flying, then slipped through the fabric underneath and find themselves resting on the living room floor. A sort of ancestor of the original legless brown ten-footer back in the day. Maybe more like a bad theme. Maybe even a nightmare.
Which brings me back to the origin of this post. Turning forty. What I've learned. How amazingly mature I am.
Lies, all lies.
Don't get me a trip to Paris. Don't get me some dumb baseball cap or mug that has a cutesy saying about getting old. Don't get me a box of chocolates or a body spray. Not candles. No flowers. Not a pedicure or manicure, a lotion or massage.
Just get me a friggin' couch.