Who knew how hard it would be to donate a couch?
This one started life as a custom-made, slip-covered, down-filled designer model from a workshop in LA. For 12 years it has graced our TV room in our vacation house. Despite his claims that he has never liked it, my husband has spent a good portion of his weekend life reclining on it, usually accompanied by our 100-pound Boxer-Mastiff-Rottweiler-Doberman mix, Jasper.
I realized I had to replace this couch when our son and his girlfriend visited and he pronounced it in even worse shape than the one he had just donated to a local thrift shop. So I went online and ordered one from Pottery Barn that looked pretty much just like it but cost half as much. I was told it would arrive at the end of May. I had plenty of time to figure out how to dispose of the current one. Cue the Universe laughing.
Last week I suddenly received an email from PB. The new couch had shipped. I soon discovered that Goodwill didn’t take couches at all. Salvation Army would be pleased to accept it if I dropped it off at their center. A local thrift shop would pick up, but not till May 9. They recommended Catholic Charities. “Sure,” they told me. They’d schedule a pickup for 9:30 Friday morning. Only thing, the couch had to be in good condition. No stains or cat scratches. No problem.
Thursday night we rolled into town early so as to be ready for the Friday pickup. Around ten o’clock at night, hubby safely reading in bed, I decided to inspect the couch. There were some light white patches on the cushions. I bent to take a closer look. There were numerous faint nip-holes on the cushions, the kind your dog likes to make when bored. Well, they hadn’t said anything about holes. Good to go. I bent in further. A rich aroma of dog assailed me. Truthfully, not so much rich as strong. As in bad. Really bad.
I decided to wash the slip covers. I had done this before, though perhaps not as often as I should have. And obviously not recently. I took off the first cover. A few faint feathers drifted down. I bent to the second cushion and peeled off its cover. A huge eruption of down gushed out: the cushion was split. Actually more like bisected. I hurried the offending cushion into the courtyard, spewing feathers as it went. Okay this seemed like a pretty serious problem. Multiple problems, really. Washing and sewing. Two of my weaker areas.
I knew I had one of those tiny travel sewing kits I’d stolen from some hotel or other. While I was washing the slipcovers I could sew the split. Outside, in the dark, because you know, feathers. I gracefully eluded the puddle of down which was now kicking up in the Santa Ana winds. In the laundry room I found I was down to my last half a cup of detergent. I started the machine.
Back to the sewing. The needle had an eye the size of a grain of sand. Not only was it not designed for upholstery, it was not designed for use by a human being. I tried to figure out how to thread it with that weird little thingy you find in every sewing kit and don’t know how to use. It actually is quite ingenious. The sewing, huge black stitches because that was the only thread available, went pretty well considering I was doing it blind. But when I went to transfer the slipcovers to the dryer, they were ominously dry. I knew at once what had happened. Part of our routine when leaving the vacation spot is to turn off the water to the washing machine. Since the cleaning lady only comes every other week no one had turned it back on. Now, of course, I was out of detergent. I scraped what I could out of the cup, turned on the water, and started over.
In 45 minutes the washer turned off. The slipcovers smelled fine. Good, even. I was home free. I stuck them in the dryer and went to bed. I had until 9:30 the next morning.
I woke at 6:30, anxious about finishing the job. I took the slightly damp slipcovers out of the dryer, and into the courtyard I went. I was hoping the winds might have blown the down somewhere else. Not so much. Tufts of feathers lurked everywhere. What if the pick up guys saw this? They’d suspect something terrible. I would need to clean up the feathers. But first, the cushions. I bent to insert the sewn cushion into its cover. Immediately a huge fountain of feathers gushed anew. My sewing was holding. I turned the cushion over. A gaping vent smirked at me.
Some couches are not meant to be donated. They start life in your family room and that is where they are going to hang out. Forever. Not on my watch. This couch was going. I didn’t know how; I didn’t care.
I opened the sewing kit. I threaded the needle with the thingy and the black thread. I sewed that sucker up. I stuffed the feathers in. I wrestled the cushion in its sweet-smelling cover. I put the couch together. I touched up a few places on the arm that had tiny little stains. The couch looked good. It smelled heavenly. I almost wanted to keep it.
The guys came on time. I had vacuumed as many errant feathers as I could, picking up quite a bit of gravel in the process. That vacuum cleaner is not going to last long. I fully expected the men to inspect the couch carefully for stains and cat-scratches. Instead they only seemed concerned with mundane things like whether it would fit through the door. They took it away without a second glance.
Now we have no couch. I haven’t heard another word from PB. We moved a faded wicker couch from the courtyard into the family room. My husband can’t lie down on it. The dog doesn’t fit. It looks ridiculous. And I’m worried about the poor sucker who takes home that couch from Catholic Charities and decides to wash the righthand slipcover. If I’m being honest, really how long can that sewing last?
And now I have to pick up the feathers from every corner of the house before the cleaning lady gets here.