Monday, July 26, 2010

70. Lawn Cushions

So I receive the latest "Restoration Hardware: The Summer Edition" catalog. Obviously, the Universe has deemed today a "good day".

I eagerly start devouring the pages as if they were chocolate bon-bons (which they might as well be). Then the record scratches: ekrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Lawn cushions? Outside? Princess is confused.

I do not currently own any lawn cushions. I like the "idea" of them, but I just don't understand the reality of them. Practical Princess wonders: Do they stay outside ALL THE TIME? And if that is true, don't they get wet when it rains? and don't they get mildewy? and don't birds poop on them? And how, exactly, is that supposed to be enticing: bird poop cushions?

Restoration Hardware laughs at my concerns. No, I mean literally. I call their 1-800 number, and ask the salesperson how these cushions work. The Customer Service Representative who is lucky enough to pick up the phone for my call is named Marshawna. She good-naturedly says that no one has ever asked her how the cushions "work", and then she follows up with the aforementioned "laugh" (in retrospect, it may be merely a nervous giggle; I mention this information is going in my blog and she may become quite famous). She asks if I can be more specific about the purpose of my call. I tell her the truth: that I am incredibly lazy and I really do not have time to clean these so-called "outdoor" cushions before every use. She sighs a big sigh of relief, and says

Marshawna: Oh! I see what you mean now. No, no, no, you absolutely DO NOT have to clean them every time! Ha ha ha, that would certainly be a lot of work wouldn't it? These cushions are low-maintenance, and you can tell that by the two letter code highlighted in yellow that precedes the SKU number: "LM". See the code? That stands for "Low-Maintenance". You do not have to clean them all the time! These cushions are virtually work-free! Nothing could be simpler. What makes it so simple is that all you have to do is bring them inside or store them in your garage.
Me: (incredulous) You are telling me that I have to bring the OUTSIDE cushions INSIDE my house after every use?
Marshawna: (in sing-song happy voice) Not every use. Just most uses.
Me: But, see, that DOES sound like a lot of work. In fact, carrying them back and forth is probably more work than just cleaning them. I don't know if this is a wise purchase for me.
Marshawna: Hmmmm. (Sound of pages flipping in the background) Well, then one product that might suit your individual needs is located on page 17, a wonderful teak storage bench that houses up to three large cushions. You could buy that too and store them inside. That way, you wouldn't have to move them very far OR clean them.
Me: I don't have enough money to buy all those things. Can't I just leave the cushions OUTSIDE since the description says they are OUTSIDE cushions?
Marshawna: (still perky) Well, it is just the manufacturer's recommendation to bring them indoors between uses, to, you know, extend the life of The Product. You don't have to do it.
Me: But if I don't do it, what happens?
Marshawna: Ummm, it really depends on the type of climate situation you are residing in.
Me: I don't live in Antarctica or anything.
Marshawna: Well, that's good because shipping costs extra there. It is just that, under normal circumstances, the cushions might get wet and possibly dirty if you leave them out all night.
Me: So now you are saying that I have to bring them in every single night? I can barely remember to feed my cat and I will have this new responsibility too if I buy these cushions?
Marshawna: (a little impatient now) Honestly, I don't think it will hurt anything if you skip a day. What kind of climate did you say you live in?
Me: I live in Crazy Town, which has sort of a normal climate: rain in the spring, sun in the summer, wind in the fall, and then some snow in winter. Pretty typical, middle-of-the-road, Average Joe climate. Unless there is an earthquake. Or flood. Or tornado. Or hurricane. (getting carried away) Or avalanche or blizzard or...
Marshawna: (interrupting) The product information guide says that these cushions are not intended for "outdoor snow activities".
Me: I'm not planning on snowboarding with them.
(long uncomfortable silence)
Marshawna: (starting to sound annoyed) Did I answer your question then?
Me: I guess so. So, hey, one more thing then, Marshawna: I just want to know what the exact purpose of these cushions is?
Marshawna: The main function of these cushions is to "provide a comfortable sitting experience", especially if you happen to have wood furniture. I'd say another selling feature is that they look nice. (closing the sale) How many would you like to order?

Poor Marshawna. She is missing my point entirely.

My Inner Princess is none too happy about the extra work these lawn cushions will end up being. Gardening and watering duties have already been delegated to Princess and that pretty much is all she can handle. The cushions go unordered. Besides, I have ultimately come to the happy-and-money-saving conclusion that my patio furniture is actually fairly comfortable and looks okay without cushions.

Excuse me while I go remove this splinter from my butt.

("Multitude of Outside Variations")

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