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.


  1. I take it you guys don't have curbside trash pickup there in Auburndale?

  2. We do have curbside pickup, but they automated it recently--they only take whatever you can cram into one special barrel, which is dumped into the truck by a huge robotic arm (it's pretty cool...there's a video here).

    They will send out a special crew to take "bulky items," but you need to make an appointment in advance, and I just couldn't leave the couch blocking the sidewalk for a whole week.

  3. I've been trying to imagine a scenario that would excuse this couple’s behavior.

    This is a true mark of character (and psychological health). If only we all could do this, the world would be a safer place for couches everywhere.

    The only story I could come up with is they noticed those particular cushions were teenagers from Squornshellous Zeta, and not actually yet dead, but only pretending to be so they could catch a few seasons of "Lost."

    So little Zem and Zem were taken back to the swamp before hormonal changes made them go gupping and willomying across the floor, and are now happily raising two little cushions of their own.

  4. It just seems so obvious when you put it that way, plain as the principal olfactory protrusion on your face.

  5. That’s principle! Principle, I say!

    Really, to quote me, you must first put your intelligence aside.