Our very first set of living room furniture came to us as a wedding present from the OC's Godfather. He gave some money to my father-in-law to pass along to us to buy the furniture. But the thought of what we might choose, left to our own devices, made The Prince shudder. Obviously it would be a much better idea for him to choose what we should have, since he, unquestionably, had superior taste in such matters.
And so we lived for the first decade of our married life, with a very formal, brocade-covered couch, matching love seat, coordinating chair and the ugliest Scandinavian modern, glass-topped coffee and end tables ever. He had been thwarted on the whole subject of our getting married at all, so this was one small way in which he attempted to continue to control our lives. I was meeker then, a little afraid of him, conscious that I was supposed to be grateful, and happy enough that we wouldn't have to sit on the floor.
A decade or so later, living in California, with a whole continent between us and him, we lost the run of ourselves entirely, ditched the brocade and the glass, and bought a tweedy blue and beige set of couches. On a trip to San Diego we bought a coffee table made from an old hatch cover from The Star Of India. We have it still. To the Prince it looks like a piece of junk, but it is likely the thing that each of our children will want when we die!
The only couch we had when I was growing up in was in the "sitting room." If you were posh, you called it the parlor, a word that sent us into fits of giggles. We were not that posh. The sitting room windows faced north and it was frigid in there. My mother didn't have a freezer but that didn't matter---- she had the sitting room, which was just as good. Bigger even. The door was kept shut all the time, except for Christmas and Easter, and any time relatives from far away came to visit. Back then, fifty miles qualified as far away.
I think the reason it was called the sitting room might have been because the people for whom it was opened, aired and warmed, were the kind of people who could be depended upon to actually sit. There was very little danger for instance, that my grandmother, or my aunts, would suddenly take it into their heads to start jumping on the couch.....or that my uncles would suddenly get the urge to wrestle and roll around on the floor. Definitely not a room where horseplay was encouraged.
When we did use it, my mother lit the fire and it became downright cozy in there! The couch faced the fireplace and there were two comfortable chairs on either side. There was a lovely glow from the lamps on the bookcases, and the water colours on the walls lent a genteel touch. My mother had made fitted slipcovers for the couch and chairs. The fabric was off-white and linen-y, with an old fashioned flower design. I thought they were beautiful, and that it was a shameful waste that we couldn't live so elegantly all the time. Though I might have thought differently if I'd been paying the heating bills.
Since they were not subjected to daily wear and tear, those couches looked as good the day I left home as they did when I was a little girl.
Not so our couches now. The blue grew old and tattered, helped along by five energetic children, a variety of dogs, and one snooty cat with very sharp claws. It was replaced in North Dakota by an over sized, tan set which we have loved, not wisely perhaps, but very well. Unlike the Prince, we actually live in the room we call the living room. If those couches could talk it would set tongues wagging! Small people have bounced on them; larger people have snored on them; young men have slept off varying degrees of inebriation on them; there has been a certain amount of canoodling on them; people who would never dream of snoring find them comfortable for sitting and stitching; a certain cat thinks they belong exclusively to him. The same cat is not above sharpening his weapons on the sides, and so the couches, while comfortable and endearingly familiar, are showing their age. "Shabby" would not be an exaggeration. They have traveled with us to Europe and back; trundled in moving vans from North Dakota to Minnesota and finally, to Florida, sometimes called God's Waiting Room.
Their wait is over.
The couch god in the sky is calling them home.
Even though there is no longer a continent between us, I will not be asking The Prince to go couch shopping with me. He still thinks we are not to be trusted; still thinks he would choose better. But I am no longer the meek, pliable little innocent of forty years ago. I think I know the kind of furniture that will fit our "living," our bouncing, even our "sitting." And I'm certain I know what I do not like, at least as far as couches go.
If he is very good, I might invite him over to sit on the new couch when it comes, just as long as he promises not to deliver a lecture on what he would have bought, had he been consulted. Sniff.
And, just to be on the safe side, I'll tell him there's to be no bouncing.