IKEA Nesting Instinct.

Well, having given the girl my futon when she moved out, I found myself with a pretty substantial cavity in my living room. So for the first week, I piled up a bunch of the girl's refuse stuffed animals and whatnot (I think I paid for most of 'em. They might as well had some utility before they hit the dumpster) so that I could sit in only minor discomfort while getting my bi-weekly television fix. (With all the PBS cooking shows and the new Doctor Who episodes, I gotta keep that tivo clean)

So, I enlisted the help of a cow-orker that owns a truck, and we went off to IKEA today to find me a new couch. And we tested all of them. The entire leather line was thrown out of the competition on general principle. Maybe I've never sat on a really nice leather couch, or at least never acknowledged it, but the IKEA-grade of leather furniture seemed little different from the highest of the high end "pleather" or vinyl stuff. There's no way I'm paying a premium for something I'd have to peel myself off of on a hot day, and yet still be compelled to treat it as if it were a fragile little thing of beauty. Forget that noise. So we sat on everything else, much of which was immediately discarded as "I could build this myself out of cinder blocks and phonebooks, it's that comfortable!" or the "I think they used the complementary airline pillow design philosophy for this one: Three sheets of kleenex in a sanitary slip cover."

There were a couple that passed both the comfortable test, and one was easily deemed the most comfortable couch they had there:

R: "Damn, this is pretty comfortable."
E: "I concur."
R: "But what's up with the color?"
E: "The tag says it's brown."
R: "It looks purple."
E: "But the tag! The tag, I say!"
R: "It's kinda ugly."
E: "They usually have some stock colors. Lemme go find IKEA sales guy and see if they've got it in blue."
E: "I think I might want to buy that couch. Is it in stock, and do you have it in your standard navy blue?"
ISG: "No. It only comes in brown."
(oh no, a dead milkmen flashback:

We went to the Phillie Pizza Company
And ordered some hot tea
The waitress said "Well no
We only have it iced"
So we jumped up on the table
And shouted "anarchy"
And someone played a Beach Boys song
On the jukebox
It was "California Dreamin'"
So we started screamin'
"On such a winter's day"

....ok, enough of that)
E: "Huh. Brown, you say. I guess we'll keep looking."
So we examined the next-most-comfortable couch, and it too, was pretty comfortable.
R: "So how about this one?"
E: "It's not bad. I like that other one better."
R: "It's ugly."
E: "Yeah, I know. But it was darn comfortable."
R: "This one's pretty good."
E: "It's also nearly three times the cost of that other one."
R: "Still cheaper than what I paid for my couch."
E: "Yeah, but you bought yours from a department store, and even if was marked down due to going out of business, I gotta say: that other couch was more comfortable."
R: "Still cheaper..."
E: "How long is this couch? 12 feet? I don't think it'll even fit in my place."
R: "Did you measure your wall?"
E: "I can't be bothered by silly things like actually knowing the dimensions of stuff. Count yourself lucky I remembered to look up directions to this place *before* we left."
R: "I think it might fit."
E: "I really don't think it will. Sure, I can have a nice couch, but I'll never be able to leave my apartment again because the door will be blocked. So at best, when the cat and I finally starve to death, I can die knowing that I got to expire in luxury."

So we made another circuit of the sofa & armchair department, briefly considering a pair of recliners instead before deciding they too were incapable of measuring up to the comfort of the ugly couch, not to mention that the price would've suggested just going with expensive couch anyhow. Well, that and my unspoken reasons that buying matching recliners was probably more wishful thinking (that one wouldn't go completely unused most of the time) as well as a component of the Ricardo-separate-bed phenomenon: You just can't cuddle on a recliner, and even if you manage to, you probably wouldn't want to. Granted, I've got no cuddling prospects lined up, but I'm surely not going to preclude the opportunity with something as trivial as a furniture purchase.

Everything kept leading back to the ugly couch.

E: "It's just so much more comfortable than everything else."
R: "It looks weird."
E: "Yeah, but if it turns out to be that hideous, I can always buy a slip cover for it or something."
R: "That'd be annoying."
E: "Well let's get logical. This couch is currently under fluorescent lights and tucked between Screamin' Red Polyurethane Thing and Pea Soup Awful Cordoroy thing. It's hard to gauge anything in that context. Besides, if the worst that happens is I end up buying it, and I'm stuck with an ugly couch. An ugly couch that is better-priced and more comfortable than everything else we're seeing here. Utilitarianism wins. I'd rather have something that is affordable and functional.I'm going to go find IKEA sales guy again."

So they wrote me up, things got paid for, and we loaded the identical twin of the floor model into his truck. Drove it back, dumped it in the apartment, and drove off to get some lunch. Came back, stripped off the layers of industrial plastic wrap and set it up.

R: "Actually, it looks pretty good."
E: "Different lighting, and I think it's growing on me."
R: "I'm not saying your decor is bland, but it's the only real color in here. It looks nice."

So I'm declaring victory. Sure, it isn't something I would've picked out normally, but it works. It's a good couch. I broke it in by taking a nap on it (while watching this week's PBS episode of American Experience (it was about the boy in the bubble), and the cat even joined me. She's sleeping on it right now, in fact.

But this leads me to a different problem: I'm proud of this and I fear I'm falling in line with the Palahniuk-inspired concept of the "IKEA nesting instinct." I've boasted about my couch acquisitiion to a few people already, and I've even caught myself saying stuff in line with the quote: "That's it. That's the last sofa I'm gonna need. Whatever else happens, I got that sofa problem handled."

But I don't think that's what my excitement is all about. Sure, I got a good deal on a manufactured good that I'm happy with. The more pertinent concept is that this is the first purchase I've made in a long time for myself. No compromise. No arguments. No shelling out dough for something I was secretly unhappy with. I went to buy a couch, and it was a fucking win on all fronts.

And that feels pretty nice right about now.