Warm Leatherette

On February 21, 2011 by Eden M. Kennedy

I have recently discovered that, much like yogurt and bad relationships, furniture has an expiration date. Our couch, for example, had been begging to be put out of its misery for months. Its pillows were bursting at the seams, leaking feathers and foam. The frame had split and sagged to the floor. Recently Jack had even put a piece of plywood under the cushions for support. “I can’t wait to put this fucking thing in a dumpster,” he said. Repeatedly.

Then, something inside him snapped. I heard it! It was like the sound of a fan belt breaking and then flapping around inside his head. Clearly, the lingering memory of a half-price leather sofa we’d seen at Christmastime at the Restoration Hardware outlet store was more than his synapses could bear. It has never been a dream of mine to own a leather couch, not being one to fantasize about spending my summers with everyone’s sweaty ass stuck to my sofa. I also felt it was my obligation to point out that if we bought a leather couch our living room would no longer be vegetarian. “Let’s just go and look at it,” said Jack.

So we all got in the truck to go and take a look at it. It was no longer half price: it was $3,800.

“Fuck that,” said Jack. He’s a sensible man. But once the idea of leaving our vegetarian couch in a dumpster had presented itself as a real possibility, Jack’s problem-solving/shopping gene was activated.

We were driving back home from the Restoration Hardware outlet when we saw another furniture store next to the freeway: Urban Home. I Googled the store as we drove down the frontage road toward the entrance. “These reviews are terrible,” I said.

But the possibility of an affordable leather couch was too strong to resist. Urban Home turned out to be full of cheap leather-like couches. And like I said, furniture has an expiration date. We know that now, so we won’t be surprised, five years from now, when our Urban Home ovo-lacto-leather-blend couch needs to be replaced by a series of (vegan) hammocks and slings.

And I haven’t even told you about the bed yet.

In order to fit the new couch into the living room, we had to move an enormous piece of musical equipment out of the way. Jack’s upright bass is more than just a giant violin on a stick. It’s insanely decorative. Visitors are helplessly drawn to pluck its strings. “Wow,” they say. “Thuuuung,” it calmly replies.

But the living room wasn’t big enough for both sofa and bass, so bass got a new home next to my side of the bed. The bed itself politely stepped six inches to the left to make room.

That night as I slept I felt like I was rolling into Jack all night. “Is the bed tilting?” I asked. “It’s just my incredible magnetism,” replied Jack, wiggling his eyebrows.

Jack’s magnetism has never been measured in a laboratory environment, so that’s all pure speculation. The NEXT night, however, when Jack sat on the edge of the bed to take off his shoes, we heard a terrible CRACK. We looked at each other: the bed was definitely tilting now, but it was late and we were tired, so I spent the night sleeping very carefully and dreaming that I was clinging to the edge of the raft of the Medusa.

Please don’t think I’m trivializing the unspeakable plight of those people. Even though I sort of am. I was pretty tired when I woke up, though, so you should feel sorry for me.

Now we needed a new bed frame! Back we went to Urban Home. Never mind that we’d barely examined the underside of our current bed frame. We had New Furniture Fever.

Urban Home’s beds looked good. Many of them had “leather” headboards that matched our “leather” couch, but give one a good shake and it practically fell off in your hand. We left and walked over to a mattress store to consider a $60 metal frame. Then we went to a consignment store to be tempted by an ebony monstrosity that was going for $700. Then we went home and saw the same bed online for $5,000. What a bargain that ebony monstrosity was! Never mind that it looked like something Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford would have consummated a suicide pact in. It was on sale!

Our condition was officially upgraded to NEW BED MADNESS.

The next day, just out of curiosity, Jack stuck his head under the bed to see what had broken. The two block supports that normally held up the middle of the bed had dropped to the floor, and the outer frame wasn’t strong enough to carry the weight of a mattress, a box spring, and two comatose adults. “Peewee must have knocked them over,” said Jack. Peewee runs and hides under the bed when I vacuum. So, technically, it was also my fault the bed was broken. And it was the vacuum’s fault. We could also possibly blame the carpet.

Also, the whole bed frame turned out to be made of the moral equivalent of styrofoam.

“You get what you pay for,” said Jack, waving a feather-weight shard of “wood” at me.

“I’m sleeping on the couch tonight,” I said.

“Don’t you want to break the bed?” Jack wiggled his eyebrows at me again. I envisioned us naked and falling through the floor to land on the bus driver who lives below us.

“I’m sleeping on the couch tonight,” I said.

Later that day, Jack called me at work. “I can fix the bed,” he said. “You can?” I asked dubiously. I pictured Mary Pickford in a pink satin bed jacket looking at me expectantly. “But then what if the place you mend becomes stronger than the rest of the bed and some other part of it breaks?”

“What?” said Jack. “You think about it and call me back.”

I considered the possibility of not needing a new bed after all. Mary Pickford died an alcoholic recluse, no doubt because her monstrous bed was too comfortable. Reluctantly, I called Jack back and told him to go ahead and try to fix the bed. So Jack got some drywall screws and glue and fixed the bed for, like, a dollar.

I got home and looked under the bed. The blocks were back in place. I realized that we had probably knocked them over when we moved the bed six inches to the left to make room for Jack’s bass.

“Oh. You’re right,” said Jack. We apologized to Peewee with canned food, a prolonged walk with uninterrupted sniffing, and ten minutes of tug.

But I sort of need to vacuum again.



32 Responses to “Warm Leatherette”

  • Is it okay that I came here just to write some lyrics in the comments box?

  • Here is a measure of your writing: I spent precious minutes (with two kids calling my name from outside my office door) reading about your broken bed with a big smile of my face. You’re good.

  • –“Wow,” they say. “Thuuuung,” it calmly replies.–

    my mascara is tacky’d from laughing! glad to read it’s not just my costly home and interiors that are falling apart.

  • That was a thoroughly enjoyable story.

  • What with the recent musical theme, you had me at Warm Leatherette.

  • If you haven’t read “The History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters”, there’s a chapter there waiting for you.

    I want the bed that Elizabeth Taylor, Peter O’Toole, and Richard Burton were in for “Under Milkwood”. It’s a little cozy for three, but nothing but excellent action I am sure. Unfortunately my current bed is in excellent condition, so I have to wait or get a bass or some other pretense to move it six inches.

  • I was so mesmerised by the story of your furniture that I didn’t notice my leg was going dead. I’m now trying not to go through the roof with the ensuing pins and needles.

  • I was “this close” to having my husband talked into a new couch from Pottery Barn, but they had this crappy policy about 15% off online can’t be used as 15% off in the store and the whole $800 couch turned into $1200. So, we bought a pleather couch. For $470 (plus FREE delivery). It’s been here for two days and I already feel like it’s springs are broken.

    You get what you pay for. And, so help me, once the two kids and two dogs are out of here, I will have a nice sofa! Dammit.

  • Oh, how much of this world is “…made of the moral equivalent of styrofoam.”
    My German Oma similarly would say something was “stitched with a hot needle.”
    Well done, ladies.

  • Really great post. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me at times of “may I feel said he” by e.e. cummings.

  • sigh.

    I want to wear a pink silk bed jacket and lounge around in a huge ebony bed. THANKS A LOT.

  • I’ll thank you to never, ever bring up that song again, even though now it doesn’t matter if you do since it’s already running through my mind like a raging river of crap. God help us, it can’t be stopped!

  • Hilarious read! Thanks for entertaining me!

  • I like Jack’s eyebrows.

  • Still hoping for the dénouement of the couch story to occur in Isla Vista, featuring accelerants and a stealthy getaway. Blame it on the frat kids!

  • I love how the upright bass responds so lowingly. This was a damn good read, Eden.

  • Damn, you can tell a story. (I followed u over from Defective Yeti when I saw your comment about my book. It’s usually a quick look, because most blogs kinda bore me, but this story sucked me right it.)

    I have totally been there on putting up with shit for years, until the moment it snaps and them boom, it must be solved, Now!

    And I’ve lived the same scene of the bed crashing after I moved it and unwittingly knocked out one of the supports.

    I was grinning all the way through.

  • After 14 years we just bought the Maverick from LazyBoy. It isn’t really all that pretty, but my God is it comfortable. Also with the two recliners we all now have our own place in which to stretch. I can’t wait until it is delivered on March 24th.

  • You just get better and better and better….

  • I couldn’t help when reading this but substitute “waggling” for “wiggling” so it read that he was waggling his eyebrows at you.

  • This is why I never go into furniture stores. I always end up buying something. And as a single person, my stuff doesn’t get worn out too quickly, although I could probably use some updating. I like my leather couch though.

  • When we moved in with the mother-in-law, we got rid of most of our furniture. Now that we’re moving (to Kansas City!), I realize that we need a couch. I also realized that I have never purchased a couch. I am 35 years old and have never purchased a couch. We’re in trouble.

  • So that’s what’s wrong with me! I have the new furniture disease!! Mine must be much worse though since none of my current furniture is actually breaking – I just want to buy new. This is an expensive condition.

  • Years ago I had a boyfriend whose bed was kinda caved in in the middle. I hated sleeping over at his house. I clearly the remember the first time I slept over there I dreamed all night that I was sleeping on the slope of a valley… and I just kept rolling in toward the middle and trying to claw my way back up the slope.

  • Just dropping in to say that I’ve had “Warm Leatherette” running through my head on a constant loop for three days now. Thanks! And I mean that sincerely. Haven’t heard that song in years.

  • you are woefully underrated.

  • Even your comments are good. And now I want a LazyBoy Maverick.

  • Love your posts.

  • I have a very similar bed situation going on at my house, so I can completely understand. Great story. I write about my bed situation here http://aroundthewaygirl.blogspot.com/2011/01/chiropractor-or-masseuse.html

  • “I can’t wait to put this fucking thing in a dumpster” and “Fuck that,” it’s not often I read something and fall hopelessly, immediately in love with the male character. This must be either because it was non-fiction, or he’s just that good.

  • You’re good…. and you know it. very funny… i take your posts over anyone else’s. You’re so good…

  • How did I miss this one? So funny. Until I had to google ‘raft of the Medusa’ and imagine myself undergoing weeks of torment and cannibalism.

    This is the kind of post that prompts me to want to nag you to write more because you are so damn brilliant and also my life is empty and I need to laugh and marvel at your witty prose. I say the same thing to Alice Munro! In my head anyway.