Saturday, September 08, 2007

Turning Forty.... and Couches

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.

I want

baseboards in my kitchen!!

a functional closet!!!



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.


Anonymous said...

Well, I think, we here in blog land should start passing the hat around and see what we can come up with for your birthday...What say you fellow blogger friends of Joyce? :)

Bonnie said...

I think that is a novel idea, I'll be sure to pitch in!!

Joyce, you make me laugh!

Anonymous said...

I hope you get that couch Joyce, you deserve it!!

There's no feeling like seeing the Wien's Furniture truck pulling into the driveway!

Leanne said...

Sending all my warmest, couch-iest wishes your way!

Anonymous said...

I think a couch fund is an excellent idea. Count me in.

Nancy said...

As a germaphobe, I'm totally into contributing to the couch fund. Noone, I mean noone, should have to watch tv, read, or do the hokey pokey on someone else's castaway where all their memories are just waiting for a chance to be unveiled: spilled beer from the Bombers game in 1972, vomit from when their kid got sick (your kid's vomit is okay but not someone elses!), the smelly diaper that got changed by the well meaning neighbour lady and then got tossed onto the couch while she cooed over the baby, and of course, all those dustmites that have lived in in the cushions for far too long! Yuch!
So yup, tell me where to send the cheque!

it's a gong show... said...

I'm in too!

Daphne Enns said...

Joyce, I'm worried that people are going to show up at your house with more old couches...

Okay, so if you do build up a couch-account, and you start looking for a new sofa then let me know. I know where all of the deals are in the big city! If you are interested we could do coffee and shop!!!!

And you can even tell your friends how an interior designer helped you to find the perfect piece!

joyce said...

HEY! if I whine on-line, could I land up with an entirely new seating arrangement for my living room?!
ok, so the menno in me is feeling mildly guilty about all this. but only mildly.

please ccome to my fortieth, and you don't need to bring a couch. or lotions, or pedicures or candles. Because those things, I really don't need!!

Just come. November 10.
New theme to be announced very soon.

gloria said...

Quick Joyce, come up with a non-profit org. and I can ask for a donation to the cause of a couch!

Might even have it on time for your swanky party (which should have some sort of 60s theme..)

mmichele said...

darn. i already bought you candles.

Romeo Morningwood said...

It doesn't get any more Freudian than discussing The Couch as a metaphor for your Life.

Like your couches You have consciously chosen to be accessible and comforting, as opposed to being pretentious or conspicuous...
well maybe not conspicuous...
how about ostentatious.

You don't keep the plastic wrapping from the factory on you. You are functional (labels sheesh!) and not merely decorative.
Yes Joyce you allow people and pets the opportunity to sit back and relax instead of being on guard and maintaining appearances.

I was going to say that you also let people and pets jump, eat snacks,throw up and nap all over you, but it just doesn't sound as edifying, exhorting, or comforting.

mmichele said...

probably true, though.