My Couch

I lost my sense of humor last night somewhere beneath the couch. It was caught between a metallic rod and a mound of mismatched socks. The ones I’ve been hunting down for years.

My couch is a complicated place. I’ve come to think of it as an underworld, an everlasting purgatory for life’s smallest, most vulnerable things—the pen, the quarter, my son’s Lego piece—oh, to get caught in the springs of the couch.

At the far end of my dining room sits this couch, all cushion and pliable fabric, but beneath its soft contours lies Hades; a labyrinth of webbing and steel coils, nasty little claws, just waiting to snatch up Every Last Left Sock.

My couch does not like pairs of socks. It will devour only one of each. And I’ve heard, and by the evidence it seems to be true, that if two matching socks accidentally appear, the couch will spit out one in disgust, swallowing the other one hastily, a sacrifice to the gods of small, and vulnerable things. In this place, it is easy to lose one’s humor.

Like most others, I’d often given a cursory glance at the space between the floor and frame, in search of a receipt, or magazine disappeared into the soft folds of leather. But then came the loss of my 8-year-old son’s Hot Wheel, and life came to a stop. This was no pen, or fancy magazine—this was his Hot Wheel, his favorite Hot Wheel, the one and only, this-and- no-other, desperately needed Hot Wheel.

My Hot Wheel, my Hot Wheel, my Hot Wheel!

Lord Almighty, the most Merciful and Kind, find us the friggin’ Hot-Wheel.

The Lord did not. So I turned over the couch. No cursory glances here, no hand shoved blindly into the space to push the dust around. This time, I physically turned over the couch. Anything to stop that wailing. And there, in the snags and crags I did not know existed, in the springs and webbing bridge exposed like an old pack of bones from under the worn upholstery, I found a lifetime of Lost Little Things— 8 pens, 4 bouncy balls, 2 goggles, 6 blow-bubbles, 14 receipts, and a brand new respect for the underside of my couch.

I also found my daughter’s last summer’s croc. The right one. The left one, it seems, was digested. And I found the lost socks, of course, so many lost socks, trapped in the jaws of various coils clamped down like rusted teeth on my poor, cotton things.

I rescued them, all of them. Well, all of but one. There was something about this sock. I tried to dislodge it, but no matter how I grappled, and twisted, the couch would not give—not for anything, not that fine, red, and white last sock, still with the scent of last summer’s sweat. I pulled, but it held on, I shoved, but it would not let it go. There is so long one can wrestle with a warped coiled spring. After several minutes I gave up.

So I’d fought with my sofa, and lost. And the hot wheel was found in the butter drawer of the fridge, where my son had placed it while he poured himself some juice. This is how one loses a sense of humor.

May the Lord protect my socks.