Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday Memories: The Great Couch "Hoist" of 1998

You may remember my good friend Jeannine who guest blogged here in February with Tales from the Pew.  Well, this Monday (technically Tuesday) Memory is all about how Jeannine and I jointly acquired a couch for our apartment in the summer of '98.

It was the summer of '98 (in case you missed that!), and Jeannine (or "J9"as Ken and I affectionally have dubbed her) and I were subletting the main floor apartment of a house together.  We have so many fun and strange memories from our summer together.  There was, of course, the night I unknowingly forced J9 to sleep on our front porch.  There was also the insane lunatic who lived in the basement apartment below, who apparently could not tolerate any noise louder than a butterfly floating from room to room above him (seriously, I remember one night out of desperation, I strapped pillows to my feet and slid around our apartment to avoid upsetting him, and yet he STILL banged furiously on his ceiling when he heard the floor creak.  We tried everything, including friendly notes of explanation and coming to see him in person, but nothing would satisfy him.).  There was the night I had my first date with Kenny (which was full of mischievousness for J9, and I'm sure she'd love to see it featured here.... but I am sorry to say that that will never happen!).  But one of my fondest memories really, truly was the day we got our couch.

Although we knew each other before we became roomies, I think we would both agree that we didn't know each other all that well - I think if I remember correctly, it was sort of a happy coincidence that we ended up in that apartment together.  So, the first part of our summer together was spent just getting to know each other a bit better.

Here is what I learned about J9:

- that she is not confident about her upper body strength
- that she is terribly claustrophobic
- that she has low tolerance for layers of cat hair on her roommate's bedroom floor rug
- that she is wonderfully tolerant of problematic cats
- that she really wants to develop her upper body strength
- that if she is dreaming that she is trapped in her bedroom, she WILL succeed in exiting her bedroom in real life... via the shortest route possible... meaning through the door we never used that connected our two rooms... even if my bed was blocking her route.  :-)
- that she love nachos and is willing to risk life and limb at seedy bars to get them
- that she makes a mean ratatouille
- that she wishes she could lift heavy objects with more ease

So... you would think that by the time we had realized we needed a couch that I would have had time to absorb all of the information I had learned about my new roommate.  Guess again.

One day we found a yard sale in our neighbourhood with a bunch of good stuff for sale - the owners were moving and it was an "everything must go" kind of scenario.  They had lots of great things for sale... including a couch!  Between the two of us, we had basically everything we had needed to fashion ourselves a decent apartment that summer... except a place to sit in our living room.  A couch would solve that problem!  It was a nice couch, the price was right... it was perfect!  We gleefully bought it.

All we needed was a way to get it home.
We stood there, reviewing our limited options.  Neither one of us owned a car, so that posed a problem.  We tried phoning cab companies to see if any of them had a van available, but unfortunately they all informed us that Saturdays were their busiest days for van requests and we should call ahead next time to book a van.  Umm... not helpful.

Then I got my 'brilliant' idea.

I proposed that we carry the couch home.  After all, we were only a block or two (or four!) away, and we could stop and take frequent breaks.  It was sure to work!

You may want to review the list of things above that I learned about J9... because apparently I did not!

Wonderful Jeannine, in her signature way, was willing to take up the challenge.  She did not say a word about her difficulties in the heavy lifting department, and seemed optimistic about our chances for success. 

So, we each took an end of the couch, and we were on our way!  We were quite the sight.  I am a taller than average gal, and J9 would probably not mind me saying that she is significantly shorter than I am, so the odds were already against my poor Jeannine.  I tried my best to keep my end of the couch level with hers, but to no avail.

You know those scenes in commercials and movies where there is, for example, a close up of a bumbling dad working his butt off, struggling to climb a rock wall... dripping with sweat, exhausted,  trying desperately to hoist himself up to the next foothold... seemingly a hundred feet in the air?  And then the camera pans out and you see that he is two feet off the ground?

Yeah... that was us.  We were dripping with sweat, struggling for every foot closer to home we gained.  We stopped every 10 seconds for a rest.  We finally put the couch down and looked back at the yard sale, and I swear it felt like we had barely left their property!

Despite much encouragement and ego stroking from me, J9 finally convinced me that walking this couch home was simply not an option.  We sat down in the middle of the sidewalk on our new couch to weigh our options... of which we honestly thought we were out.

Then Jeannine remembered our friend Dean had a truck.  A truck!  Hope!  The only problem was that neither of us had cell phones with us, nor Dean's phone number, so we needed to go home to call him.  But we couldn't exactly leave our new couch on the sidewalk and expect it to be there when we returned.  Slowly, the realization that we would have to drag this couch back to the yard sale sunk in.

We each grabbed our end and started lugging.  I'm sure that the owner of the home where the yard sale was took one look at us dragging this couch back towards her house and wondered what kind of operation we were running.  Finally, with a sigh of relief and a sheen of perspiration, we got the couch back to its old home.  We explained the situation to the woman, and she was friendly, but somewhat reluctantly gave us a window of time to get our couch off her property.

We walked home - which is amazingly easier without a full sized couch - and J9 phoned Dean.  I seem to recall that we had to make several calls to him before we were finally able to catch him, but thankfully Dean agreed to bring his truck and help us get our couch.  yay!!!

I can't remember Dean's reaction that day, but I'm sure that once he saw the couch and sized the two of us up, that he truly wondered what on earth we had been thinking.  But, Dean is the nicest guy out there, and he politely opted not to mock us and helped us load up our new found treasure and take it home.

Thank goodness it fit our living room!

Well, I'm happy to report that not only did that couch provide us a dining area, a place to sleep for many a house guest, and spot for us to share good conversations over a glass of wine (and sometimes tears), but it has also given Jeannine and I a good laugh many times over the last decade whenever we recall that day.

So in my books, that couch was totally worth every dollar.  :-)

*Note:  After a particularly hilarious evening where I entertained myself by having Kenny respond to letters to Miss Manners with his own take on etiquette, I would like to invite you to submit your own etiquette questions for Kenny to answer on an upcoming blog post... should be good for a laugh!  Just email them to me at kirsten.keil [at] gmail [dot] com (sorry for the format... don't want to attract spammers!).


  1. Seems to be you could have sat down on the couch however far you got it...
    Send Jeanine for help and just read a good book until she got back...
    :) :) ;) :)
    The 2 of you were always good for some stories.
    Thanks for the memories.
    Hi Jeannine...Think of you often

  2. Oh my Kirsten, that was a wonderful memory to relive. The only part that you did not remember quite right was that it was Dean (he was in your year) that helped us out, not Andy. At least I think was his name :).

    Holly- you are so sweet! I remember you and your husband very well!

  3. Really?! Oops! Duly noted and corrected! LOL