Thursday, May 6, 2010


There are all sorts of organizations out there protecting the unprotected. Animals and plant life of all shapes and species have a guardian angel group to look after their welfare. There’s the Wildlife fund, The ASPCA, PETA, the Society of Kind Understanding and Not Killing Skunks (S.K.U.N.K.S.). It seems every form of animal life, every endangered species, every tree, flower and rock has a group of people out there willing to raise funds to make sure they’re protected. Who hasn’t melted at the sight of those sad puppy eyes on the matted mutt peering our from behind a wire cage on an animal rescue commercial? For just five dollars a month you can make sure that little mongrel will be well fed and taken care of well into his dotage. Every cause seems to have its group of advocates. I’m not cold hearted enough not to have fallen for one of these causes. It’s a cause I’ll admit I’ve been secretly involved in for most of my life. I rescue abandoned furniture. I have yet to find an official support group but I am looking. I can’t walk away from a curbside find or a trash yard chair left waiting to be reduced to kindling. Like those sad puppy eyes a rickety table left out in the rain makes my heart melt. I can develop an emotional attachment to an inanimate object. It becomes an anthropomorphic process where I see the pain of a gouge on a Queen Anne leg, or the rust on an enamel top table. Their wounds make them all the more endearing and desirable. It’s like rooting for the underdog. I was never attracted to complete perfection, if such a thing existed. My empathy always ran to the reject, the neglected, the cheaper second a manufacturer wouldn’t put out on the sale floor but wouldl sell at a discounted price on a back shelf in the rough room.
At one point the shelves of our daughter’s bedroom were lined with one-eyed Eyores, hand-sewn sock monkeys with dirty feet and rows of Teddy bears with ripped arms bandaged with gauze tourniquets. We’ve let Emmy keep all of her stuffed animals because throughout the years our dog, Buddy, has chewed off all of their plastic noses giving each of them a scar of adorability.
Last week, two days before junk day I had taken a short cut to Hyvee, the local supermarket. You can cut across on Jana Lane and shave about ninety seconds off the trip, but today my shortcut added a good five minute to my trip. That’s because I had to circle back around the block three times to look at this vintage cushionless sofa sitting out next to the recycling trashcans. It was love at first site. The arched back, the beautiful side tufting, the fringed bottom all tugged at my emotions. I fell in love with its possibilities. It was a piece with tremendous potential. I saw it transformed with vintage linen and abalone buttons, a pleated box skirt running around the bottom, its unfinished legs peaking out at the corners. I tried to tell myself to snap out of it and leave the couch where it was. It wouldn’t fit in the Ford Escort anyway. I finally pulled myself away from the curb but as I drove on to Hyvee the image of that sofa wouldn’t evaporate from my mind. It lingered in my memory seducing me. Later that evening I made Rick and Emmy ride down the street to see if they saw what I saw in that sofa. My heart skipped a beat when we turned the corner and I couldn’t see the sofa. Then my endorphins took a huge leap when I saw that chartreuse brocade peak from behind a parked car. Rick thought it was nice but he had no idea of how we could get the piece back. Emmy was just embarrassed I might stop and actually try to take something someone else had labeled as trash. It got left on the curb one more time but it refused to leave my psyche. It waltzed through my dreams that entire night.
When I woke up the next morning Charlie Shortino was broadcasting the local weather forecast between segments on traffic accidents and how to make the perfect pancake. The forecast for the day was partly sunning followed by thunderstorms in the late afternoon. It was the word thunderstorms that tied knots in my stomach. I panicked about that poor sofa soaked and shivering, a target for a bolt of lightening. All day I fought the urge to go and cover the sofa with a plastic tarp until providence set in. My sister, Bonnie, had the day off. The day before she asked me to come over to pull up some rhubarb and cut down some lilacs. My sister, Bonnie, also had a truck. The minute I got there I started pestering her about the sofa until she insisted, I mean INSISTED, we go get the sofa. I felt guilty about making her go down Jana Lane to help me kidnap the chartreuse sofa. When we got there the sofa was still sitting there waiting to be rescued as the storm clouds were beginning to form. The clock was ticking. We parked the truck. Bonnie got at one end of the sofa and I got at the other. Then on the count of three we tried to lift the sofa onto the back of the truck. The sofa proved to be a true vintage piece, solid wood, metal springs and horsehair stuffing. That sofa weighted a ton. But now I was not about to be deterred. We tugged and inched and pleaded and sweated that sofa into the truck bed and then on to the top of the cab. We tied it into place with some hemp rope and drove that sofa over to my mom’s. That beautiful piece of furniture just made it into mom’s garage minutes before that first raindrop splattered against the truck’s windshield. I could smile at the brewing storm knowing my sofa had been rescued. It was safely sleeping in the neatly kept garage. Fate had stepped in, the sofa would get another chance at life, and all was right with the world. 

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