Warm Leatherette

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.