In Search of the Perfect Couch


Last week, I made a major life commitment.


Choosing a couch, I realized early in my search, is a serious responsibility. It would no doubt last longer than my last three romances combined, and its selection should involve at least as much aforethought and consideration as in picking out a beau.


Was it well-put-together? Would it settle in comfortably among my other possessions? Would it offer just the right degree of snuggle without being constricting? Was I willing to resign myself to living with it for years and years? Would it develop bothersome quirks I’d overlooked during the test run at the furniture store?


I made my way through aisles of myriad options: leather-clad models and country casuals, chaises and daybeds. And after trying out dozens of them, they all seemed pretty much the same: big beige boxes that, once in my living room, would become invisible as a swain the night of the country club dance.


I wanted something with character, personality. If I were to make such an investment, it should not be a Stepford sofa. It must have style, comfort, functionality and drama all rolled into one. I entered an alcove, and there it was.


A Victorian-style fainting couch, a romantic sigh on the showroom floor, the promise of happily-ever-after embodied in the graceful curve of its arm, its shapely feet set firmly on the floor. Its sturdy back swooped up into a soft arc like a cascade of notes in a Rachmaninoff symphony or the prow of a Viking ship.


It was love at first sight, and I, like any good Midwestern girl, immediately worried about what people would think.


Its unique character would confirm once and for all my eccentricity. Friends would tolerate it whenever they came to visit, but they’d never really warm to it and would always be a bit wary of its insistent presence.


They’d point out its impracticality, the way the back slopes down to the left until it becomes no back at all. One could mindlessly flop down on it after a grueling day at work and instead of sinking into softness, lean back and topple heels over head right off the end.


So I looked some more, testing out Danish moderns and La-Z-Boys until my deciding moment arrived. I turned for a second look at the fainting couch and saw sitting upon it another woman. Jealousy gripped me on the showroom floor and I knew I must make the couch mine.


And the next afternoon, it was carried across my threshold and set at a rakish angle in the middle of my living room.


As soon as the delivery men drove away, I leaned back in its beckoning corner and struck a Clara Bow pose along the length of it, marveling at its comfort, its undemanding support.


Curled in the bend of the cozy arm of that couch