Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Toxic Couch: Part One (05-02-10)

One evening, while cruising the Internet, I saw an ad on Craigslist for a fabulous-looking leather recliner and sofa bed. The ad caught my attention: "We are literally selling these for pennies on the dollar. EXCELLENT condition except for the areas that have been treated as a scratching post." True, looking at the photos, one could see that the arms of the recliner were extensively scratched, but still, the set looked pretty cool.

We'd given our worn out couch and loveseat away before moving, and this pair looked like a viable replacement. I insisted that Gary and I go to check them out all the way to Hillsboro despite his less than enthusiastic response when I showed him the Craigslist ad.

The house looked new and decent enough, and the guy how opened the door was friendly. Yet there was something odd about the inside. There was no carpeting in the living room; the perimeter of the room was edged with what appeared to be unswept matted pet hair. The exposed plywood was grimy and had large dark oily stains in several spots. My mind registered the incongruities, but I dismissed them when I saw the sofa bed and recliner. The set had that casual elegance of quality expensive furniture, and the leather color was a warm brown and distressed finish. I immediately liked them.

The only problem with the sofa bed and recliner, the owner said, was that the resident cat had clawed the arms extensively. But this was an expensive set he assured us; it set came from Restoration Hardware, and cost thousands of dollars. They were reluctant to part with their furniture, but hoped that by parting with it, they would be able to train the cat to not scratch the new furniture they were planning to purchase. How old is the cat, I politely asked. Twelve, he said. Again, a little warning sign flashed in my mind, but I merely chuckled at the answer, looked at Gary, and rolled my eyes at the idea that one could train a twelve year-old cat to do anything.

The guy opened the sofa bed, and, -I swear there are times when I wonder about my powers of observation-, although I noticed that he had a difficult time working the mechanism due to very visible rusting of the springs, I didn't wonder why there was rust in the first place, or why the leather was darker in some areas on the back and in the recesses of the couch... So, like a dummy, I paid the guy $160 cash. We quickly loaded the furniture in the truck and trailer under pouring rain, and off we went, Gary and I couchless no more...or so we thought.

When we got home and unloaded the pair from the trailer, as we lifted the sofa up, we got a whiff of a pervasive horrific smell. Upon close examination, we found that the inside of the sofa and the recliner had been used as toilet by an animal, most likely the same cat responsible for the scratches.

To make this sorry story short, despite weeks spent airing under the carport, the sofa and mattress were unsalvageable. They exuded the most repellent toxic fumes that made walking by them enough of an ordeal that one would prefer going around the carport rather than be exposed to the stench.

But wait! There's more!..

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