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Sunday, October 25, 2009

the life of a couch


After moving into our own place in April 2007, we had to wait almost a year for my birthday bonus to be able to afford a couch. Before that, we used a dilapidated futon we borrowed from The One's sister and some foldable camping chairs. We could only afford the cheapest couch, but, even so, we were most impressed with the quality of our brand new acquisition. I had the option to have it Scotch-guarded, but I thought that it was not worth the extra cost. We were civilised, after all, and would look after our couch properly.

The couch was sedate and cushy as couches should be. It sat quietly in its corner, brown and welcoming, a hideout after a hard day at work. It did not complain when we got DSTV and spent more and more time sitting, lounging, even eating dinner on it as time progressed. The backrest started sagging a bit on The One's side, but still kept weathering the storms of everyday life valiantly. In fact, I think I shall name it “Prince Valiant”.

When we got the two dogs, the couch added “crib” to its growing list of functions. Whether we were on the couch or not, the dogs loved sleeping, playing and eating on it. Alfred got the hang of getting onto it quickly, but, more than a year after we got them, Geoffrey still can't get on it himself. He stands with his front paws on the seat and barks to be helped up and gets very dejected when we don't.

Then came our big move, and the furniture movers were careless when dragging it upstairs. They did not see the nails in the stairwell walls and tore two large holes in the fabric on the top of the backrest. This seemed to mark the start of the couch's final decline into decrepitude.

Since we got her about five months ago, I have wanted to buy Elizabeth a scratching post. But those things are obscenely expensive, and, with The One not working at the moment, it is all I can do just to put food in everyone's mouths. So, the way cats are, she just makes do with using the couch instead, and, to her credit, has never once complained.

I was amazed that in one evening, three new stains were added to the couch's growing collection. First, Alfred jumped onto the coffee table and spilled a glass of red wine on it. Then, later, I was playing with him and spilled a mug of rooibos tea on it. And, later still, Alfred was sick and vomited in his favourite spot in the entire house – the couch. There is another picture above of Alfred just after he vomited on the couch a few days later. He couldn't manage to get it all on the couch, but still got some of it to soak nicely into the foam. Yes, I know it is disgusting. So much for being civilised.

The final straw came when The One, who always has to fall down when sitting despite my admonishment, broke one of the springs in the seat on his side. Instead of agreeably bubbling, the seat now has an alarming dent at the back, so that every piece of debris or change finds its way down the back and into the inside of the couch. And, last night, The One broke another spring in the same way.

When The One was in the Cape a wile ago, I visited my sister and saw that they had bought a new leather couch. It is magnificent. I have to confess that I was filled with a terrible envy. I don't think their dogs are allowed on it, but, even if they were, I am sure the superior quality would bear the brunt much more efficiently than our budget model has.

Prince Valiant the couch, bed, dining table, crib, love nest, coffee table, hiding place. If he had a mouth to speak, what tales would he not have to tell?

Some days, I am convinced that I can see the deterioration of our couch as a metaphor for the decay of my own life.

Written by I

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