Something to Match Her Couch

Q, in shiny silver pants and bright orange top, rushed over to M with his arms laden with samples that he took much time in arranging and displaying in front of her. He used the term 'handfeel' and talked of 'achieving a design aesthetic.' M looked at each sample in turn. She shouldn't have come, shouldn't have listed to her friend W who had made the appointment for her. She wasn't much interested, despite Q's waiving hands and exploding superlatives. No, none of them would work at all. I'm looking for something to match my couch, is what M said to Q. This statement produced the desired effect, which was that Q stopped in mid-flourish, placed a finger to his temple. Oh, he said, oh, I see. Then he gathered up his samples and retreated to the back room, much like a mouse who has just now noticed the large cat licking its chops overhead.

M really was looking for something to match her couch, had been looking for days now. Really, one could not understand the difficulty. The couch was beyond description and therefore almost impossible to match. M had tried bringing along a snapshot of the couch, but the quality of the photograph just wasn't good enough, and then there were the textures to consider. M almost cut a little swatch off the couch. Turned it upside down with the idea of removing a small portion from the underside, which no one would see anyway, but it simply could not be done. In fact, there were already many tiny squares of fabric cut away from the bottom, and what was left barely covered the frame. Any further incision into the fabric would detach its precarious hold.

M began to wonder if perhaps there wasn't something odd about her couch. After a day browsing up and down Spring Street, she could find not one thing to match it. It was like the couch had supernatural powers and repelled any foreign object placed within ten feet of it. M wasn't even sure she matched the couch. She hadn't been able to believe her luck when she found it in the apartment; the old tenants had left it, and she did not own a couch. Perhaps this was the issue, that she had never been a couch owner before and thus she was not skilled in the art of finding things to match her couch. She had many friends who owned couches -- Y, T, H and G -- and they all seemed to have found matching things. Was it really so difficult? M searched. She got advice from her friends on places to go to find things to match one's couch. She rattled up and down the city, hopped from borough to borough. She went to upscale studios, second hand shops, mega malls. She hunted through her neighbors' bulk trash. She even went to New Jersey.

Still, M could find nothing to match her couch. She called her mother. Try Macys, she said. M bought a web cam and started a web sited dedicated to the couch. She invited web surfers to post suggestions for places to find things to match the couch. Her mother posted the following: Find yourself a man with some good muscles, and he can throw that god-awful couch out the window. M did not take kindly to her own flesh and blood insulting her couch and so she refused to call her mother for the next month, on principle.

M spent more and more time with her couch. She ordered piles of catalogues. Pottery Barn, Ikea, Pier One, Crate and Barrel. She didn't leave her apartment for four weeks (the same four weeks during which she refused to call her mother.) Her friend X, a painter, sometimes brought M Chinese take-out. X did not own any couches. She found them too distracting.

M eventually felt guilty for ignoring her mother, and so she planned a visit home (reasoning, as well, that she should expand her search for things to match her couch past the tri-state area. To increase the odds.) M bought some plants, then gave X the keys to her apartment so she could water the plants (and of course, keep the couch company.) M did not find anything in Illinois to match her couch, but her mother was very relieved to see her. When she returned, M found a flat, rectangular package wrapped in plain brown paper leaning against her couch with a tiny note on it that said: with love from X. (Her plants, by the way, where dead.) M ripped open the paper and could not believe her eyes. Of course! It was just the thing! In fact, it was the thing. She hung it up above the couch.

About the author:

Caroline Berger has an MFA from the New School. Her work has been published most recently in La Petite Zine. She cohosts the Sunday Salon reading series in NYC.