Wednesday, November 15, 2006
It is Tuesday morning and I am waiting for our new living room furniture to be delivered.
(Wow! Thrills, chills and merriment ahead!)
We are getting a new couch and recliner. Our old couch was spiffy stuff when Clinton first took office, but two boards, three pillows and a somewhat thick comforter have propped up its cushions for the past year or so. It threatened to eat a couple of my older relatives last Thanksgiving. Luckily, their feet were still visible, so we were able to pull them out of its gaping maw before they were lost completely. As for the recliner, some of you weren’t even born when that was new. It looked swell in a living room with shag carpeting, but hardwood floors? Not so much.
(I had my choice of jokes there. I was playing around with something about the first person to ever sit in it wearing a Nehru jacket and, as a matter of fact, I think it was Nehru himself. Not bad. I also could have gone with “Why, when that chair was new, Neil Diamond was considered hip”, but that would have been a lie. Neil Diamond was NEVER hip. If I had really wanted to be esoteric, I could have said that when that chair was stylish, as far as anyone knew Rob Halford was straight and Tony Randall was gay. If you prefer one of those, feel free to pretend I used it.)
Do you remember the old recliner that the father from Frasier sat in, held together with duct tape? That’s pretty much what ours looked like, minus the duct tape. I do have to say, though, it was damned comfortable. This was due to the fact that a dent in the springs - not surprisingly, in the exact shape of my ass – was a permanent feature.
Anyway, MY WIFE and I decided that it was time for our living room to stop looking like the set design from a community theater production of Tobacco Road. We wanted to get new furniture prior to Thanksgiving so that we wouldn’t run the risk of having the following conversation with the local police:
“You say that you last saw your grandmother on Thanksgiving?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Where did you last see her?”
“On the couch eating a piece of squash pie.”
“And when did you notice she was missing?”
“Well, she isn’t rightly ‘missing’, per se. We can still hear her. It’s just that we can’t see her and we don’t have the necessary tools to bring her back out into the open. Would it be possible to send over a couple of your men with the Jaws of Life?”
Furniture shopping would be an entirely new experience for us. Although we’ve been married for over 14 years, we have never bought furniture. The old couch (and a matching Queen Anne chair, which still looks good and which we are keeping) was inherited when my father died. The recliner had been part of my own furniture in Dorchester at the time we were married. In addition, we brought various beds, tables, chairs, lamps, and other bric-a-brac, with us into the marriage. A few things we needed have been given us as gifts over the years. However, the most expensive piece of stuff we had ever bought ourselves was a finial for a floor lamp. Maybe the ironing board cover; it’s a toss-up.
The first thing any couple that has never furniture-shopped previously has to get straight is what exactly they are shopping for. Yes, it’s living room furniture, but is it a couch, a sofa, or a divan? Folks who have grown up taking an occasional snooze on the sofa will probably not have quite the same thing in mind, when shopping, as those who spent their childhood sitting politely, with legs crossed at the ankles, on a divan. Here’s a good test: generally speaking, if you ate supper, you had a sofa and you’re a Democrat. If you ate dinner, you probably had a couch and you’re a Republican. And if you had an evening repast, served by a butler and maid, I find it hard to believe that you could find anything I have to say of interest, so what the hell are you doing here? Go back to your friggin’ Newport mansion, divan-sitting royalty, and leave us peasants alone!
(That person just went, “Oh, how CRASS! Clayhammer! Bring me a snifter of cognac and some jellied monkey tongues. I’ll be on the day bed in the east wing.”)
(By the way, the dictionary definitions are of little help in this matter. “Couch” is defined as “a sofa or divan”. “Sofa” is defined as “an upholstered couch”. WTF? Without the upholstery, isn’t it just a pile of springs and wood? And a “divan” is “a large, low couch or sofa, usually favored by those who eat jellied monkey tongues”.)
Since one of us is a Libertarian and the other is a Socialist – no prizes for guessing which is which – and we don’t care if you call it dinner, supper, or grub, so long as we get fed, we decided that “couch” would do, but if it was labeled “sofa”, we wouldn’t get all bent out of shape.
We decided to take a few preliminary trips to local furniture stores, just to get the lay of the land. We’d look at a few things; say, “Oh, I don’t like that” or “Good God! That’s hideous!” and generally get an idea of what we both could live with. Then, after we knew what we were looking for, we’d go do some real shopping.
We pretty much came to the conclusion that MY WIFE would be arbiter of color and fashion, while I would have veto power concerning such things as materials. She has a keen eye for style and subtlety, while I was mostly concerned with how comfortable it would be to stretch out on while watching football. I wanted it long enough so that I could lay on it without my feet or head touching the arms, and I wanted a material that wouldn’t stick to me or make me itchy on a hot summer day if I decided to lay there in my underwear; no leather, nothing scratchy.
(I should note that it is now 10:12 in the morning. The delivery was supposed to happen somewhere between 7am and 11am. The phone rang at about 9:15, but I didn’t get to it before the answering machine picked up. By the time I was able to switch it off and say, “Hello?” nobody was on the other end. If it turns out they were calling me to make sure I was home to accept delivery, and they have now decided not to come here, I’m going to be mightily pissed.)
To make this ridiculously long story just a bit shorter, I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that we finally ended up at Jordan’s Furniture in Avon. I don’t know how much of the country Jordan’s might cover, but it is an institution here in the Boston area. Barry & Elliot, the owners, did very clever commercials, on both radio and TV, for many years. If you ask someone in this area to name a furniture store, the majority of the people you ask will probably say, “Jordan’s” (and then give you a queer look, wondering why in hell you asked them to name a furniture store.)
The staff was wondrously inattentive. We expected to have salespeople all over us, asking us if we were being helped and whatnot, but we were left to wander around with nary a second glance. Some people would find this swell. Some people don’t want salespeople hovering about them. I didn’t have a great problem with being left alone, but MY WIFE, having spent a fair amount of her adult life in retail, figured we should be getting more attention than we were. She went up to a salesman and asked a few good questions. He answered the questions and directed us to the area of the store we needed to be in.
(And, just to set your mind at ease, it is now 10:25 and the deliverymen have come and gone. They were fast, efficient and polite. Having never had furniture delivered before, I didn’t think about whether or not you tip these guys. I hope not, because I didn’t. After I check out the stuff to make sure it’s all in good shape and whatnot, I should probably call the store and put in a compliment for them, at least. In all likelihood I won’t actually do that, either, but I’ll pretend that someone from Jordan’s is reading this and consider it just as good.)
(Also, I suppose I should mention that the receipt says we bought neither couch, sofa, nor divan, but rather a settee. The dictionary definition for “settee” is “a vessel with one deck and a very long sharp prow, carrying two or three masts with lateen sails, used on the Mediterranean.” I think the next thing we should buy is a new dictionary. )
Well, I suppose there’s little suspense left concerning our shopping adventure now that I’ve told you the stuff arrived safely. I could go back and re-write this whole thing, but I’ve got the rest of the day off and I want to go start a fresh butt impression in the new recliner, so I won’t. I will let you know that we had no arguments or anything else that would have lent humor to the continuance of the story here, so you’re not missing anything. However, I’ll be missing “Tom & Jerry” if I keep on writing, so see you later.
Clayhammer! Bring me a glass of chocolate milk and some saltines with peanut butter!
(Update: MY WIFE just got home, did a quick read-through of this and a quick look around at our new stuff, and has decided that our old coffee table and TV stand need to be replaced to match the new recliner and settee, and that we should mention that the one person at Jordan’s who really helped us was a seasoned sales professional named Charlotte and we should mention her. She is right on both counts, so there you go with a mention of Charlotte and if you want to come and steal our TV stand and coffee table, we’d appreciate it. Our insurance is paid up and we could use the help. However, if you so much as touch the new recliner, I will hunt you down and kill you, slowly and painfully. It is my new best friend.)