Do good couches go to heaven?

October 21, 2009

Guelph Mercury, 21/10/09 freecouch

Nobody writes obituaries for old couches. But maybe they should.

Especially for this one. It looked like a chesterfield but drooped like a hammock. If you needed a nap, its asbestos-filled upholstery would lull you into a two-day pass-out that cats can only dream of. Best of all, it collected change more efficiently than a bum. And it knew a thing or two about those, too.

After what looked like 30 years of hoisting people’s posteriors, the old girl kind of gave up. In her final days, her insides hung out on the floor, collecting all kinds of dust and hairballs. Dusty hairballs and spawn of dusty hairballs that scientists have yet to discover.

But she was all mine—every beige inch of her granny-style flower pattern and uncooperative pillows spilling stuffing that looked like it was running for its life. She came from IKEA around the same time the Bee Gees were hitting it big, and after decades of loyal service to me and previous owners, I dragged her to the curb and propped up a ‘free’ sign.

The old couch sat baking in the sun on the sidewalk across from my window, and I pretended not to look. The last I saw of that frayed, worn-out beauty, teenaged punks were doing back flips off it. The nerve.

It suffered an afternoon full of abuse that day. Earlier, some sweaty, shirtless guys came upon it and plopped down, nursing their beers. They took the ‘free’ sign away and left an empty pack of smokes.

Strangely, some girls came by and took photos of it with their cellphones, probably destined for some dirty Internet couch fetish website I don’t even know about yet. Whatever they planned for it, I don’t want to hear about it. I just hope they treated her with dignity.

The couch disappeared without a trace overnight. I guess the new owner was too embarrassed to be seen picking it up in the daylight. When the sun came up the next day, I looked out the window to the spot where the couch had been, and felt a tinge of regret.

Funny how guys can develop unusual, probably unnatural attachments to old worn-out things. If it were up to us, we’d still find a use for the underwear we had in high school. But that sort of behavior causes problems for those who don’t understand that kind of thinking. Namely women.

Oh, the things I’ve kept long past their best-before dates. The same week I threw out that couch, I said goodbye to a dozen coffee mugs, each one of them a free handout or a hand-me-down, and not one of them with its original handle intact. They had worked just fine for me. But then again, I’d probably drink out of old tin cans, if I could.

I also tossed a faded green kitchen table and set of chairs that were so wobbly you’d swear you were at sea when you sat on them. I said sayonara to a crock pot that may or may not have been used by Abraham Lincoln. I bid adieu to a coffee table so unsteady that newspapers risked crashing it to the ground.

And where does all this stuff go? Who knows. Is there a heaven for beat-up kitchenware and broken-down furniture, where everyone is a bachelor and a saggy couch can once again be a man’s throne? I can only hope.

Greg Mercer is a Guelph-based freelance writer. His column appears Wednesdays. He can be reached at, and past columns can be read at

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