What's with the old pink couch?" Craig asked, the first time he saw my living room. And when he sat on it, he shifted his mile-long legs and pointed out politely that the circa-1940s sofa was not built for a 6-foot, 3-inch man.
"I love that couch," I said - a sentence I was to repeat frequently in the years to come, sometimes substituting the nicknames "Old Pink" or "the Bijou" for "that couch."
Old Pink entered my life via a college-graduation garage sale I shared with my friends. I didn't sell a thing in my "get rid of my college junk" frenzy. The same couldn't be said for my friends. They sold quite a few objets de junque - to their co-seller.
One bargain I couldn't resist, for a mere $50, was what they called "the Bijou Suite." The name was appropriate to the squat, heavy couch and matching chair. Their scratchy pink fabric and rounded lines were reminiscent of old theater chairs.
As the funky furniture settled into my living space, my friends divided into pro-Bijou and anti-Bijou. And my new beau was definitely sitting firmly and uncomfortably in the latter camp.
As our relationship matured, he continued, in his soft-voiced manner, to enumerate the reasons a new couch would improve our lives. The more he criticized Old Pink, the more I decided I adored it.
"Love me, love my Bijou," I repeated frequently. To every complaint, I had a snappy retort: Too faded? All the better to not worry about spaghetti-sauce drips, popcorn kernels, or cat hair. Sagging? I loved it, because I could squoosh myself right into the corner and curl up for a good read. Itchy fabric? It only contributed to Old Pink's personality.
And, bottom line: "Love me, love my Bijou."
Amazingly - he did, as time went by. I was stunned to overhear him describing our hotly debated couch to someone as "a cool '40s antique." When we married, he referred to "your dowry, the Bijou."
As we adjusted our lives to fit each other, Craig adjusted his body to accommodate the short, squat sofa - padding the arms with pillows in order to sling and drape himself across it.
Ironically, I was becoming less enchanted. Was my "Love me, love my Bijou" in truth some test I'd been unaware of? Was I just contrary? Or was it that I felt my life - our lives - surpassing my old garage-sale furniture?
I don't know. But I began eyeing furniture stores with interest. Craig's and my Bijou conversations took a sharp U-turn.
"This old thing ..." I'd say.
"... is very cool," he'd fill in.
But eventually, we began to meet somewhere in the middle. We commented that it would be nice to own a couch that could seat more than two people ... and also not have to apologize for lumps and sprung springs.
One of us would say, "Well, maybe someday." And the other would pet Old Pink's rough hide as if to comfort it.
A friend came to dinner, settling into the Bijou with a contented sigh. "This couch was made for me and my short legs! Tell me if you ever want to sell it, OK? I'd reupholster it with '40s-type fabric. I'd love it forever."
Craig and I eyed each other nervously. "We'll keep it in mind," we said, and changed the subject.
When we moved into a new house, the tattered old Bijou looked as out of place as an ape at a palace ball. "We could reupholster it ..." Craig suggested.
"It would still be too small and too short," I pointed out reluctantly.
It was time to kiss the Bijou goodbye.
One day, our friend gleefully carted it off to the reupholsterer's to be reincarnated with jazzy black-with-palm-trees fabric.
As we watched the truck back down the driveway, Craig sighed. "I can't believe Old Pink is gone." He turned to view our new couch in all its elegant and pristine glory. "This thing is more comfortable, better-looking - nicer in every conceivable way. But it lacks....
"Heart and history?" I suggested, sadly.
"Exactly." Craig stood behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. "Those will come," he promised finally.
And they have.