Monday, November 23, 2009

Free Couch! (cushions not included)

Two weeks ago, we put our old couch out on the curb. We were actually hesitant to let it go—we'd had it for nearly ten years, and it was still quite comfortable—but we needed the space, and we were sure that someone else would give it a good home.

Within an hour, a couple in a minivan stopped to claim the couch. They said they wanted it for their playroom—they had young children, in addition to a teenage son—but they needed to clear some space in their van before they could haul it away. The plan was that would take the cushions and pillows immediately, and then the man and the teenage son would return shortly for the rest of the couch.

It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time. It was two o’clock on a Sunday afternoon; I figured they’d be back before dinner. But while other people stopped to inspect the couch (now looking a little naked), there was no sign of the couple in the minivan, either that day or the next. They just never came back.

And I just keep asking myself, Why?

I can understand changing your mind—maybe they figured out that the couch wouldn’t fit in their playroom. But still, wouldn't you at least return the cushions so that somebody else could use the thing? How much trouble could that possibly be, especially if it meant saving it from a landfill?

Since I don't like to think ill of people, I've been trying to imagine a scenario that would excuse this couple’s behavior. So far, I've only come up with three possibilities, summarized below. Since I never got their real names, I’ve just referred to them as "Regis and Kelly."

1. The 24 Theory.

Regis and Kelly were actually undercover counterterrorism operatives who had just discovered an explosive device hidden in the “Seasonal/Juice/Candy” aisle of our local Star Market. Using our couch cushions to fashion a makeshift blast suit, Kelly had successfully defused the bomb, saving dozens of lives and literally hundreds of dollars in tacky holiday decorations.

As a token of his gratitude, the store manager presented Kelly with a gallon jug of store-brand cranberry juice. Caught up in the excitement of the moment, Kelly attempted a celebratory swig from the unwieldy bottle, but just ended up spilling cranberry juice all over our herself and couch cushions, staining them irreparably.

2. The Memento / Dory Theory.

A tragic trapeze mishap in 1994 left Regis and Kelly afflicted with anteretrograde amnesia, a rare brain disorder that prevents them from being able to store new memories. And so, three minutes after pulling away from our house, Regis and Kelly forgot that they’d ever stopped. Upon arriving home that night, they were stunned to discover that their minivan was packed with couch cushions of every conceivable color and size.

Agreeing that this was probably just another one of Regis Jr.’s teenage pranks—in reality, Regis Jr. is now 30 years old and running for Massachusetts' open U.S. Senate seat—Regis and Kelly stacked all of the cushions on the curb for the morning trash pickup.

3. Raiders of the Lost Couch

Regis and Kelly were actually renegade "recyclers" (aka curb cruisers, dumpster divers, or sidewalk stalkers) who, shortly after leaving our house, were captured by a tyrannical junk cartel. Dragged to the evil trashlord's headquarters/two-car garage, they faced their longtime nemesis—we'll just call her "Kathie Lee"—who had discovered our cushions and correctly identified them as part of a rare late-90s Crate & Barrel Apartment Sleeper. Kathie Lee threatened Regis and Kelly with unspeakable tortures unless they revealed the couch's location.

"I'll never tell," Regis scowled. "You don't scare me anymore, Kathie Lee."

"Oh no?" Kathie Lee said, flicking on a karaoke machine.

Two days and 273 Christmas medleys later, Regis finally snapped and agreed to lead Kathie Lee to the couch. But by the time the trio arrived back at our house, the couch had disappeared...

They wondered: Had it been carted it off by some less-picky trash-picker? Or had it, separated from its beloved cushions, died of a broken heart and ascended directly to furniture heaven?

Or maybe—just maybe—the original owner couldn't leave the fricking couch blocking the sidewalk forever, so he'd had to haul this decushionated behemoth to the garage—by himself, if I had to guess—pivoting, dragging, and flipping the thing end-over-end, its fold-up bed frame periodically springing out at him like some enormous mechanical tongue. And maybe the couch is still sitting in his garage—alongside his old washer and dryer and everything else he can’t bring himself to throw out—waiting for someone to knock on his door and ask for it.

Or maybe we’ll never know what really happened…and maybe it’s better that way.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Teen Wolf Wearing Ray-Bans

As I've mentioned before, people visit my blog for a variety of reasons, most of which involve looking for someone or something else. They search for "snacks to regulate blood sugar," and Google or Yahoo magically mis-leads them to a post about my diabetic cat.

I feel a twinge of guilt every time I see hits like that in my Google Analytics report—my blog certainly isn't going to help anyone control their blood sugar—but I do enjoy my little glimpse of the things people search for:

best things about working in information technology
lost or corrupted user profile in Vista
how do you say ‘fan club’ in japanese?
use of freeze by dates
derek shortened
queasyness at bedtime
i'm not the man i thought i was
teen wolf wearing raybans

That's all pretty mundane stuff—I mean, who hasn't been gripped by the need to see an adolescent lycanthrope in glamorous eyewear? But every once in a while, I'll encounter a search imbued with such passion that it practically jumps off the screen:

a dog keeps peeing on the grassy strip between the curb and sidewalk who owns it

This one scared me because, very briefly, I worried it might've come from some disgruntled neighbor. Thankfully, Google indicated that this visitor actually lives in Iselin, New Jersey, a place Hugo and I will be sure to steer clear of.

Over time, I've noticed that certain searches seem to transcend geography. For some reason, I see hits like these coming in from all corners of the globe:

blackberry change life
blackberry changes people life
blackberry change my life
blackberry will make my life better
sugar snacks
blood sugar snacks
snacks good for blood sugar
snacks to regulate blood sugar
un gateau
ce n'est pas de gateaux
ceci n'est pas un gateau

The Blackberry hits, which arrived from as far away as Malaysia, Indonesia, and South Africa, just depress me beyond words. And while I totally understand all the blood sugar queries—diabetes is a global issue—it's harder to guess why people everywhere are also searching on "Ceci n'est pas un gateau." Though in a surreal sort of way, one search does answer the other, non?

Snacks good for blood sugar?
This is not a cake!

But by far the most curious search to bring anyone to my blog has to be:

he peeing long moan good

I have no idea what this person was looking for, but I’m pretty sure it was inappropriate, if only grammatically. And for some reason, my blog is the #1 Google result for this phrase.

I've always wanted to be #1 at something; I guess this is it.