M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, August 05, 2003  

Sofa, Not So Good

In Douglas Adams’ novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, there’s a sofa stuck in a stairwell. Permanently. It can’t go in any further, and it’s jammed in so tightly that it won’t even come back out. In theory, this should be physically impossible. In practice, anyone who’s ever moved a sofa knows better.

The owner of the sofa in question, who coincidentally also owns the stairwell, is so confounded by the situation that he’s created a computer program that uses 3-D modeling to find a way to rotate the sofa so that it can be freed. Instead of a screensaver, he has a constantly spinning sofa on his monitor. I don’t remember how the sofa gets out of the stairwell at the end of the book, but I think it involves either time travel or a Skilsaw or possibly both.

These are the kinds of things I think about when Trash and my parents and I are trying to get their old overstuffed sofa into our basement. We couldn’t even get it through the side door without tearing the upholstery. We could barely get it down the stairs without crushing my dad beneath it. So getting the whole thing to pass through the landing at the bottom of the stairs, a space about the size of a phone booth but with a lower ceiling, was like convincing a housecat to give birth to a puma.

Did I mention that the sofa has extendable footrests? Those handles sticking out of the ends, combined with the footrests constantly threatening to swing out and clock one of us in the jaw, combined with the additional structural weight from the mechanisms, added a few degrees of difficulty to an operation that started out with us wondering whether we might be better off just cutting a hole in the floor and dropping the sofa in from above.

Eventually, with adjustments and reorientations measured in millimeters and minutes of degrees, we got the beast in there. It even bit one of us for our trouble; Dad grabbed the bottom of the frame and got a fistful of staple points, as if the thing was making one more gesture to show us just how unhappy it was to be there. I shudder to think what it would have done if the walls were still purple. If we ever move, we’re selling it with the house. Compared to that job, getting rid of the old couch—a bit of leather stretched over a low balsa wood frame, structurally similar to a World War I biplane fuselage—was like strolling through an empty airport terminal with a wheeled suitcase. And bringing down my parents’ old love seat helped me to finally realize why they’re called that.

Now the only thing we have to do is figure out what to do with our old furniture, arrange the new furniture the way we want it, and wrestle the slipcovers onto my parents’ old furnishings.

Slipcovers became very big for us this year. Trash has been getting more and more disgusted with the way the cats have shredded the arms of our sofas and easy chairs. Every time she agitated for replacements, I pointed out that the cats would just do the same thing to whatever we brought in. Then I would draw her attention to the chair that after a year in our living room looked as if part of it had been woven from used toupees.

Cheap and ruthless, that’s me. My wife’s a lucky girl.

So she got on eBay and found several high-quality slipcovers from Pottery Barn. These are quite nice, and the cats aren’t interested in shredding them, but the drawback is that they don’t come with instructions and I can never seem to get them on right. An hour of wrestling, jerking, tucking, tying, untying, and retying always leaves me with something that just looks like a beached whale in an ill-fitting straitjacket. It’s a straitjacket in an attractive designer color, granted, but that still isn’t the look I was going for.

This is my life. Trying to get sofas into basements and into slipcovers when all I really want to do is get them under my ass. Sometimes the prospect of sitting on the floor doesn’t seem so bad.

Today’s best search phrase: “pig trachea pictures.” The search phrases I get never cease to amaze me. People, Google has an image search function, okay? Click on the image tab and type in “pig trachea.” It’s much easier, you’ll get much more reliable results, and you can ogle as many pig tracheas as you want.

posted by M. Giant 3:41 PM 0 comments


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