July 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Am I Comfortable? I Make a Living.

When my wife and I went to buy couches recently, we found that there are basically two kinds of couches: the ones we like, and the ones we can fit in our living room.

Why did we buy couches? Well, one theory is that people always want to buy new couches when their children are soon to start dating. Because that way, people can walk in and say, “Oh! Your kids are dating!”

“Not yet. We have to pay off the couches first.”

Of course, the reason that people say they buy new couches is that this way, the mechutanim can come in and be impressed, and say, “They have money, obviously. They have such nice couches!” in a living room that is otherwise falling apart. “They’re going to be able to afford a nice wedding!”

So #1, I don’t know if you know this, but couches are cheaper than weddings.

Or maybe you don’t buy the couches to impress them, but just because your kids have been using your couch as a napkin for 20 years, and you don’t want to deal with the prospective mechutanim sitting there in silence and wondering what that stain is that they’re sitting on.

People put such stock in couches. There’s no other piece of furniture in your house that you specifically have to replace so your children can start dating. You’ve had your dining room table just as long, but you cover that with a cloth. No one thinks, “Hm, they’re the type of people who put a tablecloth over their dining room table. What are they trying to hide?”

Puzzles, mostly.

And that’s why my wife and I went couch shopping. The main criteria was that they would be something that would fit in our smallish living room, but my wife wanted to go to stores in person so we could see which ones we found to be comfortable. Though what are the chances that we would both be comfortable on the very same couch? Unless they’re all comfortable? I don’t know.

Really the main thing was that she would be comfortable because what she does on couches is sit down with a magazine and fall asleep waiting for me to come home from shul. What I do on couches is spend five minutes between getting up from my Shabbos nap and going to Mincha, chastising the kids because I told them to wake me an hour earlier so we could learn.

We also had to make sure we could get out of the new couches. This wasn’t at the absolute top of the requirements list, but our old couches were so low near the end that everyone had to be pulled out of them, sometimes by a chain of lighter people. The way we made it work was that we have fewer cushions than people, so there was always at least one person who was not on the couch and was available to pull the first person off.

That said, couch shopping is draining. It’s like every store you walk into, you immediately feel the need to sit down. Multiple times.

Buying couches is an entirely different kind of shopping. It’s not like you’re walking around with a cart, filling it up with your maybes, and you’ve got a couch sticking out at a weird angle and you’re trying to figure out how to fit the loveseat in the cart too.

“Could we put it underneath?”

“I think we should have gotten a second cart.”

No. You come into the store and you sit down. Then you walk five feet, and you sit down. And then the salesperson comes to you and says, “Can I help you? Let me find you somewhere else to sit down.” And you say things like, “I’m comfortable, but not comfortable enough; let’s sit somewhere else.” It’s like you’re the rudest guest.

If I had to compare it to anything, I would say that the whole couch-buying process is very similar to the process of buying a car that doesn’t move, and has a way more diverse choice of fabrics. But otherwise, it’s very similar. A salesperson latches on to you, and you get to test drive them, and then once you decide on one, they pretend to give you an extra discount that they’re giving everybody, and they try to sell you all kinds of warranties.

The main difference is that a car dealership has maybe seven types of cars, whereas in the couch store, there are a hundred different couch setups all facing different angles, and you have no idea which ones you’ve sat on and which ones you haven’t, and you’re all turned around, and you were kind of hoping the salesperson was keeping track, but in at least one store we found out that he was not. And each couch has a helpful name hidden somewhere on the label, like Amanda or something, as if you know someone who says things like, “Why don’t we go sit on Amanda?”

“You name your couches? That wasn’t on the resume.”

And then the salesperson walks you over to yet another couch, which may or may not be one he’s walked you over to before, and he says, “You’ll like this one!” and you sit on a couch for a bit in silence, pretending you’re at the doctor’s office. Or the salesperson waits patiently while your wife sees if she can go to sleep.

SALESPERSON: “Well?”

ME: “It takes her time to fall asleep.”

Mattress shopping is even weirder.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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