Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I still buy green bananas

I still buy green bananas is a favorite saying in the cancer world -- a positive, hopeful vibe meaning you still enjoy everyday activities, like shopping, and look to the future with hope.  But wait a minute, it takes green bananas about a week to ripen, at most, so what kind of message is that? Unless you're on your deathbed, I think most people assume they're going to still be here next week.

So I've upped the ante and have my own new saying: I still buy new furniture....AND badger the salesman about the length of the warranty. Maybe not as colorful or catchy as the green bananas, but it's got potential.

We bought our current family room furniture when Beth was a senior in high school.  A dark forest green reclining couch, (recliners on either end), a matching sleeper sofa and a separate plaid recliner (which everyone except me thought was ugly). You be the judge:
Is it ugly or not?

"Perfect seating for the four of us," we said. One person can lie on the couch and the other three have their own recliners. "But what about me?" said Beth.  I believe we pointed to the middle cushion and said  "Well, you ARE going away to college."  Sounds kind of harsh in the retelling, but it seemed appropriate at the time.

For the record, the ugly green plaid rocking recliner is still going strong, but the couch recliners have both broken. The handle for the foot rest broke off on one of them and we actually had stuck a screw driver in, as a makeshift handle... That worked for about a day.

The other recliner lulled you into thinking it was fine, but then the foot rest would suddenly plunge downward. Gary had tried to master the delicate balance required--just so much pressure on the feet and a slight weight compensation by shifting yourself backwards would allow the chair to remain in full resting position for as long as a minute, before it collapsed, returning you to an abrupt, upright position. This was unacceptable.

I made the rounds of furniture stores, visiting some former favorites, who I found out were now out of business. Like a true NJ shopper, I was forced to cruise Rt 17, the shopping capital of the world. I found an acceptable reclining couch and love seat, debated the color for a while, but then refused to buy it from the pushy yet indifferent salesman. Luckily it was a chain furniture store, so I ventured to Rt 46 to the same store.

I liked my new salesman immediately. Tim was friendly and laid back and I learned all kinds of nice things about his four children, his own idyllic upbringing in, coincidentally, the same town I live in,(what a salesman!), the trauma when his parents divorced, his new stepparents, his mother's current trip to India, his daughter's breast biopsy, his tickets to see Billy Elliott and, yes, even his vasectomy.  

Whew! Tim and i were getting close very quickly. He learned equally interesting information from me. "How many people will be using the family room?" he asked. I was never good at lying, but I could hardly admit to Tim that all we really needed were two new La-Z- Boys, (preferably not in plaid) since we already had a nice flat screen tv and good lamp to read by.  If we ditched the couches the family room might look too minimalist with all that newly liberated space. What could i say?  I created some fictional sons, living at home, age unspecified.  I was going to invent some grandchildren, but really didn't want to offend the fertility gods and, besides, do i really look old enough to be a grandmother?  Tim might question that immediately. 

As we strolled through couch potato land,  Tim asked: "How big is everyone in the family?"  "Not as big as these massive overstuffed couches," I commented. All this furniture was so ugly and obese looking, I wanted to put it on a diet and get that chair and a half down to a respectable size.  Some sectionals even had cupholders! What would Michelle Obama say? Could I at least have a modicum of style: rounded arm, some contrasting piping, some interesting fabric?  The leather section was particularly unappealing--dark brown and forbidding. It scared me. Meanwhile I was starting to panic because I didn't see my dusty olive suite that I knew from the other store and wanted to buy.  Tim to the rescue. "I bet I have just the thing for you. It's around the corner here."  he exclaimed.

Ah yes, my furniture! I feigned surprise (my second lie). I was delighted with the curving arms, patterned gold accent pillows, the ribbed chenille fabric that gave it a warm corduroy look and,  gee, the color was great after all. I rejected the matching chair and a half, although maybe the arms would enfold you like Pee Wee Herman's Chairy? 

Tim had an inspiration. We rushed to the front of the store and thoughtfully considered two high leg floral prints in a complementary earth toned gold. Either one would put the current plaid rocker to shame. After sitting in each, and walking the chair pillows back and forth to see how they looked with the couches, I decided. Tim beamed and complimented me on my good taste.  He would have picked the same thing! We had totally bonded with each other. Bonus: the number of reclining seats for the family room: a magical 5. Just think if we'd had that  years ago, Beth may have returned home to live after college!

It had all been so pleasant, but I knew I shouldn't make it that easy for Tim.  So I assumed my tough consumer mask. Not so fast there, Mr. Tim. "What about the warranty on the reclining mechanisms?"  We poked around the back of the chairs. He showed me the double wood backing, the patented push button technology, the reinforced springs. "You'll be sick of this furniture long before anything breaks," Tim gushed AND I can have it delivered to you by Tuesday! "Tuesday,"  I hesitated. "Well, we have to move out the existing furniture, which is very heavy and then we have to shovel a path to the deck, since the furniture has to be brought in through the sliding glass doors."  I could see Tim wondering why this was a big deal, when two big strapping sons lived at home, but I cleverly back pedaled: "My sons are both away this weekend, and one has to work the following weekend, my husband has a bad back... " I was talking too fast and piling on too many reasons, a fatal mistake in lying. Slow down, breathe, keep it simple and decisive, I thought. "Three weeks out would be better," I said firmly.  Tim 's face registered a fleeting look of suspicion, but, being the good salesman that he was, he wanted to close the deal and you don't do that by embarrassing your customer and calling her a liar. He was clearly disappointed and remarked that there were only a few left and then I might have to wait even longer, but I was firm and stuck to my date.

I'm glad I did because we had another snow storm, the plow guy added to the four foot high wall of snow blocking the path to the deck and those old couches turned out to weigh a ton and a half. One couch was salvageable, but the other got deposited at the curb for pickup day.
Moving men relaxing in the afternoon sun

Three weeks flew by and the furniture was delivered with no problems. Here's the transformed room. Doesn't it look great?
new furniture, but still old crap on coffee table!

Oh, yeah--back to my theme. I still buy green bananas....I still buy new green furniture?


  1. Love the new furniture! And although your new gold chair is stately and elegant, let's face it - it probably isn't as comfortable as the much maligned plaid recliner. Buying new furniture is certainly an optimistic endeavor - especially for me since it takes me about 3 years to make a decision (at which point, the piece is out of style within 2 years. Then I look at it and think, "what was I thinking?" a la plaid recliner).

  2. surprisingly the gold chair reclines and is very comfortable (and ladylike!) but you're right....waiting for the 'what was i thinking' moment to hit me!!