My Week 37: The Real Story Behind the Couch, Weirdness, and Mistaken Identity

Monday: I get a new couch…well, new to me anyway

On Monday, I had to take my recycling downstairs. I don’t have a lot, just cereal boxes and plastic bottles, that sort of thing, but my building has this crazy garbage chute system that doesn’t accept things like that. It has three buttons—one for fine paper, one for “organic waste”, and one for regular trash—and you have to open the door to a tiny, heavily deodorized room, push the right button, then open the chute and toss your bag in. There is no light in this room—there’s a sign that says it’s to save power, which I find ironic, because on the TOP of my building there’s this huge beacon that was designed by some famous artist which is continually lit up in vibrant colours that coordinate with the current temperature. Like, blue for when it’s really cold, red for when it’s hot, green for when it’s foggy—you get the idea. So you can pretty much tell what the weather is like from the beacon colour, except that you have to be OUTSIDE to see the beacon, which means you already KNOW WHAT THE WEATHER IS LIKE. Redundant is what I think, but I’m not a famous beacon designer. Anyway, I digress. When I have actual recycling that can’t go down the actual garbage chute, I have to go down to what I refer to as the big garbage terminal. This is a giant room the size of an actual bus terminal, where the building’s garbage dumpsters are located. This room simultaneously terrifies me and fascinates me. It’s more heavily deodorized than the garbage chute room, but nothing, no matter how powerful, can mask the smell of the garbage. The main access is through the “Pet Spa”, which no one ever uses, and in its dim light, it looks like a creepy operating room. When you actually get to garbage central, it’s always deserted, so you kind of wander around in there, looking for the right dumpster and worrying that someone might be lurking behind it. BUT, the room is also the place where people put stuff at the end of the month when they move out and don’t want to pay to take it with them. When I moved in, I got a great floor lamp for my condo that had been left down there by the previous occupants. So every once in a while, I put myself through the ordeal of the big garbage terminal, just to see if there are any other treasures awaiting. (I should clarify at this point, that these things are not IN the dumpsters, just sitting there on the floor. Ken and I HAVE taken things out of dumpsters before, but that’s another story). And this past week, I struck gold. When I got back on Sunday night, I remembered that I wanted to get rid of my Corn Pops boxes (it’s a healthy AND fun breakfast, y’all), so I wandered downstairs. When I got there, the room was full of all kinds of things, so I spent a good few minutes poking around and checking it out. Then I saw it. A cream-coloured, leather loveseat. I circled around it—there was seemingly nothing wrong with it. “This would be perfect for my condo,” I thought. “But wait…how the hell would I ever get it upstairs?” I stared at it for a few more minutes, but it didn’t leap up and offer to carry itself, so I left the room, giving it several lingering and longing glances.

The next night, I was sitting and watching TV, no make-up, old glasses on. I had been out with a friend, and may or may not have had a few drinks, but I’d been thinking about the loveseat all day, and the unfairness of someone else getting it, or it going to the landfill, and the more I sat there looking at the empty space in my condo, and in my heart, that the loveseat could fill, the more pissed off I got. Until finally, about 10:15, when I said to myself very aggressively, “You go get that goddamn loveseat! Do it now! Before you sober up!” So I got up, threw some clothes over my pajamas, and went storming downstairs to make sure it was still there. Screw the roof beacon—there was my loveseat, still sitting in the garbage terminal, like a beacon of furniture awesomeness. I marched into the lobby and said to the concierge, “There’s a piece of furniture in the garbage room that I want. Please unlock the back of the elevator for me. And by the way, I usually look much prettier than this.”

He laughed and said, “Sure thing. And by the way, so do I.” None of this seemed at all unusual to him, but then he told me on the way to the garbage room that he “was new” and it was his first night shift, so he probably thought that crazed, somewhat boozy women demanding furniture at 10:15 at night was just par for the course. Anyway, he went to unlock the elevator, and it was my job to get the loveseat into it, judging by the way he didn’t reappear. I gave it a shove with my knee, and it moved a few inches. This was a good sign. But I was done with subtleties. In a Herculean show of sheer strength of will, I leaned down, picked one end up, and started SHOVING. And it started SLIDING. I slid it all the way to the elevator, and discovered the concierge still waiting. Together, we got it into the elevator standing up on one end, and he and I bid each other good night. When I got to my floor, it was no problem to tip it out of the elevator and continue shoving it down the hall to the door of my condo. Then, I was suddenly stymied by logistics. How was I going to actually get it THROUGH THE DOOR? It was too wide to shove through, and I wasn’t strong enough to pick it up and angle it. I stood there, panting from exertion, wondering if I would just have to abandon it in the hallway after all that work, when the door down the hall opened and my neighbour came out. “Is everything all right?” she asked.

“Oh sure,” I replied. “I’m just trying to figure out how to get this couch into my condo.”
“No problem,” she said. “My husband and his brother can help.”

Yes, just like that. So out they came, picked it up, and put it in place in under 30 seconds. I should just point out that these are the same neighbours whose baby sometimes wakes me up in the night, so I didn’t feel guilty watching them carry the loveseat in. They left, and I was finally alone with my new loveseat. I looked at it, and it looked at me. I walked over and gave it a good sniff. It smelled fine. Then I had a horrible thought. What if it had been abandoned for reasons OTHER than it being too expensive to move? What if there was something living in it? (Does anyone else remember the “Big Bang Theory” episode when Penny finds a chair on the street, and it turns out to be a rat house?) But the only thing I could do at that point was to go to bed and see what happened in the morning. I shut my bedroom door tight against intruders and went to sleep. When I woke up on Tuesday morning, I carefully opened the door, and peeked out. All was quiet. Later that day, I bought leather cleaner, and gave it a thorough going over with that, and soapy water as well, just to make sure. I was having a friend over for dinner, so this would be the true test. It might seem kind of mercenary, but there was NO WAY I was sitting on it until someone else had tried it out first. When she arrived, I poured her a glass of wine and directed her to make herself at home. She sank into the loveseat, tucked up her feet, and said, “Ahh–what a comfortable couch!” I smiled—and breathed a sigh of relief.

Thursday: I have encounters with several strange people.

It’s kind of ironic that I’m writing on this topic when I imagine that the concierge of my building AND my neighbours probably thought that they’d had their own encounter with a strange person on Monday night. But I came across some weird people myself last week, and the top three deserve to be given the attention they’re due.

1) On Tuesday, I was in Starbucks. I wasn’t GETTING anything, because I don’t drink coffee and their hot chocolate sucks, so I was waiting for a couple of colleagues. I was just standing there, and a guy came over to put sugar in his coffee. He stirred it, then turned, looked at me right in the eyes, took a deep sip while still staring at me, and said, very enthusiastically, “Yummmmm!!” Then he rolled his eyes back in a swoon-y kind of way. It was super strange, so I just gave him a little half-smile, and turned away. Now, I’ve been known to do the same kind of thing with wine, but only to people I actually KNOW. Then another woman came along and he started talking to her as I scuttled away from his coffee creepiness. It occurred to me later that maybe he thought I was his wife or something—you know how you’re in the grocery store or something and you see someone out of the corner of your eye and start talking to them about cauliflower and it turns out NOT to be your husband but another random guy? Anyway, that’s what I’m HOPING it was all about.

2) On Wednesday, I was shopping at the Metro, and I passed by a woman who gives me the total creeps. I’ve seen her before, and I still can’t figure this one out. Before I get into details, let me clarify that she is NOT wearing a hijab or a niqab, and she dresses in very low-cut tops so I don’t think she’s Muslim. She walks around the underground mall wearing a tartan scarf tied OVER HER ENTIRE FACE. It’s knotted at the back of her head, and her entire face, INCLUDING her eyes, is covered by this black, red, and white wool tartan scarf. But her hair is visible. Not only does she look like something out of a horror movie, I don’t know how the hell she sees anything. I tried it at home with one of my own wool scarves, and I was bumping into furniture and whatnot. But I’ve seen her a few times, and I just don’t get it.

3) I went to the Dundas theatre on Thursday with my brother to see the new MAD MAX movie. It was in the VIP theatre, which has amazing reclining lounge seats and bar service. After the movie, which was amazing, I went into the bathroom. There was a girl in there who was doing “sexy poses” in front of the mirror. I totally get this—there’s nothing wrong with being caught pretending to be a porn star. But she kept doing it, even after it was obvious that I saw her. The whole time I was washing and drying my hands, she was making sexy, pouty faces into the mirror, and swivelling her hips provocatively, like I wasn’t there. I tried really hard NOT to snicker, because she wasn’t very good at it. As I left, she was still performing for her imaginary strip club audience.

Honourable Mention: The honourable mention for weirdness goes to the girl in my condo building who quite often gets on the elevator at the same time as me, eating a giant hot dog. Perhaps you don’t think that’s so very weird, but when I say “the same time”, I mean 7 o’clock in the morning. It’s a footlong in a bun, covered with ketchup, and all the way down, in this very small elevator, standing very close to me, she just gnaws away at it. It’s kind of nauseating, actually. Give me my Corn Pops any day.

Funny Anecdote of the Week: Yesterday, I went with my sister-in-law to pick up my 5 year-old nephew from school. When we got there, we peeked in the door. He didn’t see us, but one of his little friends did. “Hey,” he called out, “your mom’s here…..AND your grandma!” Just for the record, I’m only a couple of years older than my sister-in-law, but it HAD been a long week.

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One thought on “My Week 37: The Real Story Behind the Couch, Weirdness, and Mistaken Identity

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