When I initially got the job four years ago, I had grand plans to replace all our furniture pieces, one by one. First, the stained leather couch would have to go. Next, the pair of living room chairs (a gift from my dad) that had long ago been scratched to shreds by the crazy cat would need to be replaced (to clarify: the chairs would need to be replaced, not the cat. The original owner of the cat told us in no uncertain terms that she would not take her back.). The dining room table, pilfered from a neighbor's trash pile (because it was deemed “not acceptable” by the Goodwill), could stand to be swapped out as well.
You get the idea.
We saved up our American Express points and cashed them in for the dining room table at the well-known furniture retailer’s outlet. The table was priced at $2500 and then marked down as a floor-model sample to $1000 and again to $700, and finally with my discount ended up being $420. I had $500 worth of Amex points, so we had enough left over to buy new sheets for the guest room.
Then our home improvements came to an abrupt halt. My car (this is over two years ago) was diagnosed with a rare disease known us Engine Dead. I had only heard about Engine Dead in horror movies and urban legends (plus my hairdresser told me his cousin’s next-door neighbor was afflicted once), I had never realized it could happen to me and my 10-year-old Highlander.
Turns out, Engine Dead is a very expensive ailment, and they do not accept discounts to the well-known furniture retailer as payment (believe me, I tried). Bottom line: we spent all our extra money that would have been allocated for furniture as well as money that wasn’t even ours (I’m talking to you, Visa!) to replace the car motor, because Engine Dead is of course terminal.
Now every time I turn the keys in the ignition to my car and hear the replacement engine start, I get wistful that I could have had a new sectional sofa. Granted, it wouldn’t take me anywhere, like to work or the grocery store, but at least I could have a quality nap or two on down-stuffed cushions on the weekend.
In a recent act that could best be described as rash, I decided to quit my job at the high-end kitchen store. I told them my last day would be December 24th. All my co-workers and even The Boss said the right things to my face (“Oh, but you are such a valuable employee! Please don’t go!”) even as they were high-fiving each other in the back room. I didn’t think much about any of this, until one of my co-workers had to go and say,
“Won’t you miss your discount?”
I had not thought of that. I mean, I’d thought of it a little, but I have signed over many paychecks over the years right back to the high-end kitchen store, so my own personal kitchen is actually pretty well equipped. Right as I went to open my mouth and inform her that I had enough crystal wine glasses in my possession to host a small nation’s political independence party, it occurred to me that she meant the discount at the well-known furniture retailer.
I did what I always do when I find out unsettling news: I panicked. Then I went home, went online, and tried to order a new living room couch.
Turns out, employees cannot order from their home computer. They must place their order at their own store they work at. Which was a good thing, because there is no way we could afford the couch. I settled on a chair instead.
The very next day, I walked into work armed with my American Express card and a SKU number. I ordered the most beautiful living room chair on the face of the planet.
The chair was available in about 50 different fabrics. Practical Queen Virgo whispered something about navy blue velvet not showing stains. Her noises were quickly muffled by Designer Virgo shrieking with joy at the look of the pure white linen coupled with the fact that it was on sale.
Click, click, done!
My chair was delivered yesterday, along with a small box of buyer’s remorse. I set the box in the closet and told myself I would wait to open it later. The chair was not so much white as Albino Ghost Snowy Blizzard Chalky Milk Cloud at the North Pole.
Removing the protective plastic on the new chair only made things worse. I seared a retina with the chair’s glowing whiteness.
About this time, the boys came home from school, a tornado of mud and grime and sticky granola bar wrappers.
“Oh, yay, Mom, your new chair is here!” cried Short. “Can I sit on it?”
I took one look at his grungy hands stained from some sort of art project at school and said emphatically,
“Sure! When you’re 18!”
Honestly, my kids are used to my eccentricities by now. If anyone is going to ruin my new chair, it’s going to be me. Later that evening after the kids were tucked safely in bed, I sat down for the first time to enjoy my new chair. I made sure my pajamas were clean. I made sure my cup of hot chocolate was far far away on the coffee table. Then I distractedly started picking at a hangnail.
This is one of my favorite things to do, one of those icky closet habits that I don’t normally share with the world: I bite my cuticles. (Not the nails themselves, my nails look great. Just anything within a one inch range of the nails.) Not surprisingly, the edges of my fingers started to bleed profusely. I jumped up from the new chair just in time to not get a drop of blood on the white linen.
The chair is safe.
(not quite as white in photographs as in real life, yet sure to be a stain magnet nonetheless)