Saturday, May 24, 2008

Intergenerational Psychopathology

My mother is neurotic (Hi mom!).

There. I said it. I think we all feel better.

When I was a kid, the only thing that could make my mother angry was a mess. In fact, a mess was the most reliable way to elicit any sort of massive response from that cool little cucumber. I have a sort of universal memory of her standing in the room, wild as a mongoose, screaming at her three small children to "JUST CLEAN SOMETHING!". Incidentally, there have been many times during my two years of matrimony that I discover myself out of sorts and spitting out the order to "JUST CLEAN SOMETHING!" to my dear spouse who, thankfully, is generally non-responsive to insanity.

Oops, mom, didn't mean to change the subject. Let's get back to you!

So, the thing about highly competent people who are also neurotic is that their houses never actually get messy. At all. As in, the mandates to "JUST CLEAN SOMETHING!" were generally meaningless as there was nothing to clean. Cereal bowls were whisked off to the dishwasher before the milk had been drunk, the entire house was vacuumed more than once a day (this is not a joke) and nary a stray sock fell to the floor without her instant attention. But there was one part of the house that she perceived was in a nearly constant state of disrepair: the couch cushions. When mom got good and stressed she would burst in, sometimes right in the middle of Full House, and insist that we "drop everything and fluff the cushions!". The cushions on the donated couch. The hideous donated couch. The monstrously hideous donated couch. It needed fluffy cushions. So we rolled our eyes, but we fluffed.

Fast forward to 2006, when Ryan and I became one. Unfortunately, when our furniture became one, it was missing a couch. For awhile we sat on folding chairs, but that got old pretty fast, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. Typically, internet finding/purchasing has been a strong suit of mine, but for the life of me there was not a couch to be found. Everything was both awful AND expensive. Finally we settled on a couch that was comfortable and in good condition. It was from Pottery Barn, too! So nice! But there was one problem.

It was denim. Perhaps some of you don't have an aesthetic problem with denim upholstery, but for those of you who do, please know I didn't choose this couch; this couch chose me. I had virtually no say in the matter.

We brought the couch home, and it had certain advantages over the folding chairs. I learned to pretend that it wasn't denim. But there was one feature of the couch that I never learned to overlook. The cushions on the back of the couch do not attach to the frame of the couch, that is to say, if you were, say, a roughly 200 lb. male who decided to rest his body weight on the top of the cushion, the cushion would more than likely collapse. The cushion would be crushed, is what I'm saying. The cushion would need to be fluffed most desperately. And I would lose my freaking brain.

You may see where I am going with this.

Every time Ryan crushes those cushions, every time he sits on the couch, I turn into a human time bomb. No matter how hard I try to resist the urge to remind him that every second he sits that way I get one second closer to having a stroke, I never last long. I tried to give up, to give in. To forget about it. To grow up, loosen up. Whatever. It was not genetically possible. An unfluffed cushion confronts the trauma of my childhood and my DNA. It was truly impossible for me to refrain from comment. Until today.

Today I helped a friend move and in the process inherited a new microsuede couch (microsuede=not my thing, but a huge step up from denim). And this couch, this new, fabulous couch, has cushions that are attached to the frame. They are uncrushable. Things are looking up around here.

I have come here to bid farewell to Old Glory (who, by the way, doesn't appear to be adhering to the rules for respectful treatment of the flag, which seems especially impertinent on Memorial Day weekend). I'm glad I haven't been limited to folding chairs these two long years, but I gotta say, I'm happy she will be going to a better place. And I'm happy that my marital peace will no longer depend on Ryan sitting in the rocking chair. Goodbye denim. Hel-lo microsuede!


Chelsea said...

Fact: Your mom would never do or say such a thing in such a way. Trust me, I know her. ;)

Fact: We currently have a cousin of the unattached cushion of a couch--I have the pillow fluffing habit too.

Myth: That a husband will ever catch on and reshape what has been misshapen.

Enjoy the microsuede!

amy said...

oh, chelsea, she's got you fooled! bamboozled!

i do appreciate you sticking up for jackie-mom, but let me assure you that the only tears shed during her reading of this post were tears of laughter (i was there; she did in fact laugh until she cried).

that woman may have been a total neurotic, but she has a great sense of humor about it, which i think counts for a lot.

amys mother said...

I admit the tears of laughter. As a matter of fact, Jill and I read this together and shed these tears of laughter together. We were there! We remember this and all that was behind it. Tears of pain and laughter. Neurotic? I don't think so. about the other side? And....screaming like a mongoose? I know this did happen to some degree or it wouldn't be funny- which it is. It is- sad and funny. I love you.