Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday rerun: Sofa, so good

Once upon a time...

There was a song by Stonewall Jackson back in the day, entitled "If This House Could Talk."  Old Stonewall was really given that first name, and his family claims descendancy from the Civil War general.  Stonewall became one of the cornerstones of the hard-driving honky-tonk country sound of the late 50s and early 60s, and you hear his songs on country radio these days about as often as you'll hear Pavarotti, sad to say.

But listen to Stonewall sing about that old house if you will, and think about how it feels when all you lived for has come to mean nothing, and the house is for sale and no one wants the knick-knacks and framed pictures of wide-eyed kids and dogs playing poker.  And those sad old "Family Circus" and "Love Is..." cartoons, so lovingly clipped from the Comics page of the paper after Uncle Bob finished working the Jumble ("that scrambled word game").

I am a bit melancholy over a sofa.  Specifically, I am sad about the sofa that someone tossed away on Perring Parkway, just inside the city line (which means it might lie there forever) near the Northern Parkway off ramp.  It's sort of a nondescript burnt orange sofa, in the style known as Early Room Store. And whoever owned it last, and was finished with it, just dumped it there, quite unceremoniously.

Is there something like anthropomorphism, in which people assign human characteristics to animals ("My dog has a sense of humor") for objects such as furniture?  What I'm saying is, how do we know that this sofa doesn't have feelings, memories, opinions and thoughts?  Perhaps this couch can recall times when the kids were bouncing up and down on it, playing "Chutes and Ladders" and tossing a Nerf ball off the balding pate of Uncle Bob, who soon put an end to that.  Maybe the couch saw sad times too, like when everyone came home from Charlene's funeral and mourned, sitting around with crockpot chili and cole slaw, the gentile version of sitting shiva. 

Sis sat there on a Saturday, waiting for her date to arrive. All the babies posed there too, and everyone prayed that they'd thrive.  Salesmen, pastors, sellers of home repairs, the neighbors, the nappers, everyone wound up there.

The mother is always the first to notice the little shred marks on the legs of the divan, where the old tomcat that moved in some time ago would keep his claws honed.  And the center pillow had a stain on it from the time that Uncle Bob got so worked up doing that Jumble that he spilled his Pepsi when he figured out the answer to "What's green and sold millions of records?" was  E L V I S   P A R S L E Y. No use turning that pillow over, either; the other side was all threadbare from the days when Levi's had real brass grommets on the pockets.

First, the sofa went down into the basement, where the kids would hang around the water heater and the furnace, stashing numbers behind the loose brick and texting love notes to the new girl who transferred in from the Catholic school. It really took a beating down there for four years, so much so that when Alan moved into his off-campus apartment with that girl from the Catholic school, he almost didn't take it with him, but he did, and it spent four more undergraduate years in that basement apartment with the mildewy scent and the dripping toilet.  Alan and his bride have both been graduated now, and recently moved into a condo with two private parking spots and elevator service.  The new decor that he and Mary Teresa settled on is sort of a Southwest/Greek fusion theme, meaning that there are many lithographs of cactii, and a futon.  In the kitchen, the salt and pepper shakers are miniature habanero replicas, and there is a Navajo blanket for a tablecloth. 

You still see these...
So, even though it was of the right color, the sofa just did not fit into Alan and MT's plans, and Mom and Dad certainly didn't want it, and Uncle Bob has gone off to that big old family room up yonder.  Therefore, they called on their shiftless cousin Brattleboro, the one who has the pickup truck with "Forget, Hell!" license tags, and he was supposed to take the old couch to the dump, but what do you know?  He saw there was a big sale at Sears, and he jettisoned the settee right there by the off ramp.

And that's all I know about it, and anything else is pure conjecture.

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