The sticky couch
My wife and I were huge fans of NBC’s hit show Friends. It brought us a lot of laughs the ten years it was on. And chief among those came from arguably the funniest scene in the show’s entire history, in which Ross enlisted friends Rachel and Chandler to help him move a new sofa up his New York apartment building’s stairwell. A quick synopsis: the couch was too long for the tight curves of the stairwell, which resulted in numerous failed strategies, and Ross repeatedly commanded his friends to “Pivot, pi-vot, PIV-OT!”
Written here, I’ll admit, it doesn’t sound too funny (if you want to see for yourself, though, you can check it out here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJYH4lO6Bug), but we can all relate to trying to move a large object, such as a sofa, through or around a narrow space, such a stairwell or tight corner into your house.
Two weeks ago, I encountered just this scenario and enlisted Sun Day Assistant Managing Editor Mason Souza to help me “Pivot” a “new” couch into my second-floor condo in Lake in the Hills.
Moving any couch has its challenges. But when the couch is a sofa bed with steel guts and weighs about 300 lbs, is made of vinyl, and it’s 100 degrees outside with a heat index of 115 and 90 percent humidity, moving a couch is a real sticky (and I mean that very literally, sticky) situation.
Proving that nothing in life is free, I’ll start on the morning of June 18, when I was on my way to my parents’ cottage in Wisconsin to pick up the couch, The Big Blue Pleather Beauty, where it had been for the last several years, enjoying a nice view of the lake outside the slider doors. My parents sold the cottage this summer, and since my wife and I were in serious need of couch, I jumped on my parents’ offer to give it to us. GIVE it to us. FREE. After 33 years, I still fall for that word.
Two hours into my car ride up to Wisconsin, my car broke down, ultimately resulting in a $400+ tow back to my mechanic in Lake in the Hills, making that tow number 8 in the past year … but not the last.
“Thanks,” I said to my dad for getting the couch back with the help of my sister, her husband, and son, “I’ll pick the couch up from you next week.” A month-and-a-half later (I run a newspaper, give me some room here), Mason I arrived at my parents’ house to pick up the couch.
Getting that bad boy into my van was easy enough, and at 33, I’ll say I could have done it without the help of Mason (who is 21).
When I picked Mason up earlier that day, I told him I made our job a little easier by borrowing a furniture mover (a contraption made of four 2x4s bolted together into a rectangle with heavy-duty casters for the easy rolling of heavy objects).
When we got to my condo, backed the van up, got the couch out and onto the furniture mover, we were thankful (please, detect my sarcasm here) for the three feet we had to roll the couch to the doorway.
Have you ever tried to move a vinyl couch on a very hot and humid day through a tight doorway? You can’t, not easily, at least. Carrying it was not an option, not with all the “grip” the couch had on the jamb. So we opted for the push/pull method. Mason pushed, I pulled, and away we went moving it an inch at a time before it got stuck again. We had to do this through two doorways, not counting the door to my condo.
At this point, the heat was getting to me. I was sweating rainforests on the couch, while Mason, who is part Brazilian, part Bolivian and grew up in Texas until he was about 10 years old (and let’s not forget his young age) was acting like it was a mere 70 degrees outside.
“If you need to take a rest, Mason, just let me know.”
“I’m fine,” Mason said.
I’m thinking, Darn it, because I need one. But I’m a guy and can’t say that, of course.
Next came moving the couch up the 14 stairs to my second-floor condo, a meticulous, grueling task of constant straining, stopping, sticking, going one step at a time.
Half way up and with the couch entirely on the stairs at its most heaviest position, Mason said, “It would be a lot easier if we could just push it up from here.”
“I agree,” I puffed out, and we continued on.
Finally when the upside of the couch breached the top step, it was like a fishing vessel crashing over that last ice barrier to clear waters, and the stairwell birthed forth The Couch onto the landing.
After a minute spent catching breath (more for me than for Mason), we reflected on the task, and I told Mason, “I can handle it from here.”
Later that night, I did manage to move the couch into our condo by myself, not without a lot of swearing, maneuvering, and banging (mostly on my neighbor’s door), but the task was complete. And I didn’t scuff one newly-painted wall.
Before my triumph of getting the couch into the condo, the van broke down on my trip back from dropping off Mason, resulting in a $90 tow.
A week later, I conveyed this story and all of its sticky details to the co-owner of the mailing company that processes the Sun Day. After I finished the whole thing, she looked at me from across her desk and said, “Why didn’t you just put a sheet over the couch?”