For Christmas this past year, sometime in October Otto and I gazed lovingly into one another’s eyes and decided to forego traditional gift buying for each other to instead embark upon the most romantic of journeys… replacing our family room furniture. Truly, we are an inspirational model of “keeping the flame alive” to couples everywhere.
Although we have worked through our home bit by bit, making it OURS (as opposed to THEIRS—in the case of layers of wallpaper and paint left us by the previous owners—or MINE and HIS as begat by various legacies of our pre-marriage artifacts), the family room—the main hanging-out room in our house—remained a mish-mash of blended family remnants. Otto brought The Man Couch into our marriage, and although it is brown and ugly, it is very comfortable. I, in turn, brought the Other Furniture in this room, a pretty love seat and easy chair/ottoman combo (from a former rarely-used living room) which aren’t uncomfortable, really, but are showing signs of wear now that they host energetic non-adults and small dogs with too-long nails on the regular.
So: Furniture for Christmas. Which really meant, furniture when we could get around to it.
We didn’t get around to it until mid-January, which was earlier than I’d planned, honestly. First we had to negotiate the Furniture Reorganization Treaty of ’14, figuring out all the ways in which the current room setup of the last 6+ years was displeasing and what our options were for moving things around. A settlement was finally reached and predicated on my brave husband going underneath the house to rewire where the television cable enters the room, because everyone knows you should never design a room around a television, and yet, we are totally designing that room around the
fireplace television. Anyway. Once we knew where we’d be putting things, Otto took measurements, and then we went furniture shopping.
A long afternoon of playing tag-team Goldilocks through a series of furniture stores (this couch is too soft! this one is too hard! this one costs WHAT??) came to end MAYBE because we found a nice seating group that was on sale, or MAYBE just because we were tired and hungry and didn’t want to shop anymore. It’s hard to know. The final hour was spent combing through a wall of fabric samples, and then signing away our children’s lives on a promissory note to swear that whenever the 0% interest term ended, we would go ahead and pay for the furniture. The nice woman who’d helped us to pick everything out told us it would be 6-12 weeks until our purchase was ready.
Excellent. We left and promptly forgot all about it. (Go ahead; ask me if the cable is rewired, yet.)
About a month after picking out the new furniture, Otto and I sat down on The Man Couch one evening. Otto made a face, and got back up again. He began sniffing around the couch. I said something understanding and brilliant, like, “…????”
“Something smells,” Otto told me. “Don’t you smell it?”
I didn’t smell anything… at first. But he was right, something smelled. In the general vicinity of his end of the couch.
Here is perhaps a good time to pause and explain to people who don’t own small dogs that they are somewhat notorious for being stealth-messers. I have no idea why this is, truly, but a lot of people don’t like little dogs because they’re known to be harder to house train, and often just figure that trotting off and pooping in a far corner is no biggie. I can tell you for sure that Licorice is the only dog I’ve ever owned who seems to feel the urge to vomit and then immediately thinks, “I should FOR SURE get myself up onto a bed or a piece or furniture before I do this.” Duncan throws up on the kitchen floor a couple of times a week, and I have to tell you that after years of Licorice’s I-don’t-feel-so-good-which-piece-of-furniture-haven’t-I-defiled-yet method I practically CLAP when he yaks on the vinyl. (So easy to clean up!) On the other hand, Duncan has snuck off and taken a dump where he damn well knows he shouldn’t on more than one occasion.
Small dogs are adorable. Also: gross.
So there we were, with the couch smelling… not lovely.
We glared at the dogs. They were busy… being dogs, and both of them feigned innocence. Otto and I had no choice but to locate the source of the aroma. We both suspected a stealth-puke, but combing the general vicinity turned up nothing. Nor could we find any evidence ON the couch. But it definitely smelled, and Otto determined that it was his end of the couch where some Unspeakable Event had taken place.
We got out the Pet Stain Cleaner and the Febreze and scrubbed down half the couch and then drenched it in deodorizer. Otto had to spend that evening cuddled up with me down at my end (score!) and I made a joke about how it was really no big deal if we couldn’t get the smell out, because after all, we have new furniture coming… sometime!
The next day the couch smelled mostly like Febreze… and a little bit like puke. Weird. Febreze has always worked in the past, but then again, we had no idea of the true source of the odor, so we had to do the best we could.
I am somewhat ashamed to admit that at a certain point I think we just kind of… tuned out the smell, somehow. It wasn’t AWFUL (I mean, it wasn’t good, but you know), just an occasional whiff of unpleasantness.
This week I came home one day to discover that Otto had completely dismantled the couch, sure that he would find a tell-tale sign of defilement in its innards. He did not. He did, however, find three missing dog toys, Chickadee’s wristwatch, the remote controller for the Blu-ray player, and about a pound of popcorn. And the couch still smelled a little.
I started really looking forward to our new furniture showing up. Phantom smell in a room can really make you feel a little crazy, it turns out.
Two nights ago, we were sitting on our (stinky) couch one evening, as per usual, eating popcorn, petting dogs, and watching television. It was a little chilly and my feet were cold, so rather than fetching my slippers (two whole rooms away!), I pulled down the neatly-folded throw blanket we keep draped over the middle cushion on the couch. I put it over my feet; problem solved. When I got up to take the dogs out before bed, I left the blanket in a heap on my seat, and then once the dogs were secure up in the kids’ rooms for the night, I returned to the couch to fold the blanket and put it back in its customary spot.
I picked up the blanket and got a huge whiff of STANK. Because I’m not very bright, I commenced sniffing the entire blanket. “Hey, Otto?” I called (he was already back in our bedroom). “I FOUND THE STEALTH STINK!”
Know who uses that blanket more than anyone else in our family? Chickie. She is always cold, and she hardly ever remembers to put the blanket away when she’s done with it. That means the blanket spends a fair amount of time lying atop furniture in a tangled mess, just right for a dog looking for someplace to cuddle up… or vomit, I guess.
Two mysteries remain, of course. First: at what point did a dog defile that blanket in such a way that no one noticed, but then one of us (CHICKADEE) just picked it up and folded it and put it away without noticing its ripeness? And second: I freely admit that a section of the blanket stunk to high heaven, but there was no… er… physical traces to suggest its defilement. This must’ve been one of those bile-puke events, because as dog puke goes, usually there’s plenty of (chunky) evidence. There was no stain, no crunchy fabric, nothing. Just a putrid stench.
[I know. I’m sorry! I hate me, too, right now.]
I washed the blanket in detergent and vinegar and gave the couch another dousing in Febreze. Everything smells great, now.
The very next day (yesterday)—as I was putting the freshly-washed blanket back in the family room—the furniture store called to say they’ll be delivering the new sectional on Monday. I’m thinking of declaring that anyone under 18 isn’t allowed to sit on it (or puke on it). That seems fair, right?