Monday, August 13, 2007

Big Brown

G lives near an inordinate number of furniture stores, and when I drove to his place on the 4th of July, they all had huge sales going on. We had some time to kill before meeting up with C and M for dinner and fireworks, so we visited a couple of them in search of the perfect couch and/or perfect dining room table. One store had the most gorgeous stuff I've ever seen, but if I'm ever able to afford a $4,000 couch (and no, that's not a typo), it's going in a house, not an apartment.

It was much more difficult to find a decent couch than you'd think. I didn't want something so large that it would completely overwhelm my living room, but I also wanted something big enough that I could stretch out and read comfortably. I also wanted something in a relatively neutral color; no bizarre Miami Vice pastels or garish floral patterns.

Finally, I found something that fit the bill: just a bit larger than a loveseat and a deep, rich shade of brown that the tag informed me was called "Fudgy Walnut". Instead of traditional back cushions, it had several huge throw pillows that could be arranged at will. G and I sat down, and it was like sitting on an enormous teddy bear.

"This is the one," I said reverently.

"This is definitely the one," G agreed. "You need Big Brown in your new home."

I flipped over the price tag, and when you subtracted the various offers the store had going on (no sales tax and 10% off, or 15% if you paid with check, cash, or debit card), it was right in my price range. I went up to the counter to pay, and they informed me that it was a special order that would take four to six weeks to arrive. I had been hoping to get it right away, or at least within a week, but I was used to sitting in my dish chair, and I figured another month wouldn't hurt.

But on Thursday, I got THE call: Big Brown was in town and ready to roll. I asked them if they deliver on Saturdays, since I didn't want to take time off work (see that, Giggles? That's called a work ethic, and also, fuck you). They said yes and pencilled me in for Saturday between 8:30AM-12PM.

When my alarm went off this morning, I groaned and slapped it speechless. Bleary-eyed, I staggered into the shower, washed up, got dressed, and sat down in the aforementioned dish chair with a bowl of cereal and a magazine.

At precisely 9AM, there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find a young Hispanic man staring up at my doorframe. "Hi, I'm from Furniture & More," he said. "And, uh, I hate to tell you this, but I don't think the couch is going to fit through this door."


"Um," I said helpfully. "Uh, what do we do?"

"Well, we'll bring it up and see what we can do. If it doesn't fit, then..." he trailed off ominously. Shrugging, he ran back downstairs to the truck. I peeked out my living room window, and to my horror, I saw a Mexican man who was maybe two or three years shy of 60 (or else in need of a seriously good moisturizer) strapping on a back support band. The younger guy reached the truck, they had a rapid-fire conversation in Spanish, and the older man slapped his forehead and yelled something that I couldn't decipher, but in the same tone of voice I would use to say "Fuck me running!"

The younger guy grabbed all the pillows out of the truck and brought them upstairs, and then he went back downstairs to help Jose. (No, I'm not stereotyping him; the younger guy distinctly said "Jose".) I couldn't even bear to watch, so I flopped down in my chair and tried to read, but I couldn't concentrate over the sound of thuds and Spanish in the stairwell. I heard my downstairs neighbor open their patio door, and then shut it with a bang. The guy across the way stood on his balcony, pretending to refill his hummingbird feeder while actually watching the two deliverymen struggle up the stairs.

Did Big Brown fit in my doorway?

Big Brown did not.

"MIERDE!" Jose screamed.

"Shit," the younger one helpfully translated.

Jose continued yelling, and I caught the name "Enrique" as he jabbed his thumb at the doorway. I slumped in my chair and tried to figure out what would happen if they couldn't get Big Brown in the apartment. Would Furniture & More refund my money? Oh, sure, they'd probably keep the delivery fee, but if I could get most of the money back...well, I guess that small loveseat wasn't so bad, and maybe they had a different pattern than cabbage roses.

"We're going over the balcony," Enriquez said decisively.

"Hijo de puta!" Jose hollered.

Thud, thud, thud...scrape scrape scrape...

I couldn't even stand to watch the process; I was seriously terrified that one of them would throw out his back, or that Jose would have a heart attack, or the couch would fall onto one of them.


White-knuckling my phone, preparing to dial 911, I looked up and saw that they'd hit the light fixture out on the balcony and the globe had shattered into a thousand pieces.

Well, shit.

"Mierde!" Jose agreed. "Jesus El Savior Christo y la Virgen!"

Unfortunately, Jesus and Mary were busy, and not in any mood to help poor Jose and Enriquez. But finally, after much grunting and straining, they got the couch through the sliding doors and in place on my living room floor. Slicked with sweat and utterly reeking (not that I'm judging; if I'd just dragged a large couch up a flight of stairs, then back down, then managed to hoist it over a fucking balcony, I wouldn't be smelling like a daisy myself, especially since the effort would kill me and it's a bit hot out), they made a beeline for the pillows.

"No!" I said frantically. I forced a smile and said, "No, you guys have done enough. More than enough. Thank you so much." I signed the paperwork and gave them a huge tip, which finally made Jose crack a smile. When they were gone, I swept off the balcony, and then I stood in front of Big Brown and let out a little whoop of delight.

"My couch!" I sang, to the tune of the old Madness hit "Our House". "In the middle of my livin' room!"

Yeah, between the Spanish, the grunting, the thumping, the glass breaking, and my little ditty, I'm sure the people downstairs are just loving my ass.

My ass that has a couch to sit on!

I can watch TV on it and read on it and nap on it!

And, as an added bonus, when I came to the library to go online, I got an e-mail saying my internet is ready to roll. I have to install it myself, and I'm not a techie so it may be a complete disaster, but at least there won't be any broken glass involved.

There may be some swearing, though.

Lots and lots of swearing.