Sunday, August 24, 2014

Burning Down the Couch

I have not been blogging the last couple of weeks because I felt anything I may have blogged about was trivial compared to the tragic events happening in my community.  The situation has been heartbreaking and painful for everyone in the metropolitan St Louis area and our country.  I have been appalled by the violence and hate which has been perpetuate by the press landing on our city en mass as we have become the media event of the month.  I have stopped participating in the media blitz putting my attention towards the other things like my job, my friends, my family and my beautiful wife.  I am moving forward with the hope that others will as well.  Back to the trivia which makes my life worthwhile for me.

Today my beautiful wife wanted to take me to a vintage mall called The Green Shag Market(  We had a great time and saw some fun things.  We were also impressed with the reasonable prices.  Everything was going well until I rounded a corner and saw this couch.  A black, brushed, upholstery monstrosity which was first couch I every remember having.

Who would think a couch could evoke such a torrent of toddler emotions, but it does.  My mother hated this inherited piece of furniture.  She hated it so much that one day she dragged the couch out of our house and into the field behind our house.  She then doused the couch with lighter fluid and set it on FIRE!  I remember watching the thing being consumed by flames while plumes of black smoke billowed heavenward.  It was amazing.  Periodically she would poke at the couch with either a hoe or a rake and it would send sparks flying.  Again, I say amazing. 

About the time the couch had burned down to a carcass of wood and metal my dad came home.  My brother ran to his car and said, "Mom burned the couch."  My dad walked to about 5 feet from the fire and gave my mother his head down, I am judging you stare.  He said nothing, but I am sure he looked at the skeleton of the still burning couch and thought he was lucky it was not him in that fire.

The burning couch was a seminal moment for me.  I learned that things can be burned and it stuck in my forming consciousness.  For many months after that whenever I was asked things like, "What did you do with your other shoe?"  or "Where are your manners?" 

I had a ready answer, "I burned it with the couch."  I used that answer so much my father forbid me to say it.  I started just saying I burned it.  This answer got even more awkward for my parents because I would say it in front of other people.  I remember one woman cautioning my mother about leaving matches laying around for children to play with.

Years later as a teenager I would hear the song, "Burning down the House," by the Talking Heads.  I would mentally change it to burning down the couch.  I have even used the line on my beautiful wife a few times.  Today as I rounded the corner at Green Shag and saw this couch I stopped dead in my tracks.  I pointed and said, "Natalie it is the couch, the couch my mother burned."  People started staring and she tried to move me along, but I couldn't let the moment pass without a photo and time to savor the memory of seeing one of its brethren on fire.

As ugly as that couch was, it left a life time of answers for me.  The next time anyone asks me where something is I can now say, "In the couch at Green Shag." 

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