I buy my furniture from thrift stores. Five kids, three dogs, and 6 million cats make having nice furniture cost prohibitive-not to mention the mental anguish it causes me to have something I enjoy ruined. So, I usually grab a kid and head to our local thrift store when it’s time to replace something. Our latest purchase was an olive-green wing back chair, circa 1965. It had faint patterns woven into the fabric and as the clerk said, it’s got great bones. No rips or tears that I could find and it didn’t smell of doctor’s office-I think I paid about $20 with the coupon I’d received in my email. That’s a pretty good deal, in my opinion.
I already knew where I wanted to place this new chair-near the tv, close to the window, by the door. I could find a lovely throw to place over the top and be able to sit there with my coffee and look out the window. That was the idea. Sweetpea, my ugly little terrier mix, had other ideas. She promptly jumped up and made herself quite at home. I yelled at her to get down but knew I had to temper my anger somewhat because, little did I know when I named her, all this dog would do is pee when she gets upset. So I tried to raise my voice an octave and calmly say, “Sweetpea, come on, get down.” She lowered her face into the chair and raised her beady eyes at me. “Sweetpea, let’s go, get down.” I snapped my fingers towards the floor to let her know I meant business. Apparently she did too because she peed all over my new old chair and then scurried away. This is why we can’t have nice things.
It would appear that not only did I need to buy thrift store furniture, I needed to keep the furniture covered in towels like my grandma. She always kept her chairs and couch covered in towels to prevent wear and tear on her purchases-she was a product of The Great Depression so everything she bought she put a lot of thought into. Her pieces meant something to her. Mine are utilitarian and though I try to find something cute and quirky, who would ever know because they’re covered in towels! I’m overrun with animals who dirty my things out of revenge.
I would love to have my mom over to visit-she’d like to come by for a cup of coffee after doing her weekly bank business, but she insists on wearing black pants. Harmless, yes, you’d think that were true. Not in my house of three chairs-one each containing a Sweetpea, Baxter, and random cat. Each chair has a towel, each towel has an animal, and under each animal is a towel covered in animal hair. So my mom, with her black pants, would leave my house wearing not-so-black fluffy pants. I tell her to wear jeans, she won’t.
The animals aren’t the only mess makers, however. As I mentioned, I have five kids-one of whom has since moved away. But even only four kids make crappy furniture a necessity. My oldest son is a walking disaster; his hands are always dirty and doesn’t see the need for soap. He usually leaves his half drunk milk on the floor next to a chair and his cereal bowl with mushy Fruit Loops atop a guitar amp. He’s nearly 22 and I feel for his future wife.
My 14-year-old son has an aversion to water so his feet are usually dirty and I can tell where he likes to sit since he leaves dirty footprints on a chair towel or pretty pink chenille throw. I ask him why he doesn’t wash his feet and he likes to give me varying excuses ranging from “The water, it burns!” to “Notice I didn’t get sick at Christmas, unlike the rest of you? That’s because I’ve built up my antibodies.” Clever dirty boy.
The eleven year old, my only girl, has developed an addiction to making slime. She makes a new batch nearly every day, though I’m seriously running into an Elmer’s glue shortage in my area. Did you know slime making is an actual thing on Instagram? Hordes of kids and adults make it-some use glitter, paint, styrofoam balls…you name it, they’ll put it into the slime. So, it should come as no surprise when I say that I have glitter everywhere. Everywhere. It’s on the tile, in the furniture, in the cat’s fur…I find little specks in my socks and on my eyelid. The slime itself can usually be found next to the sink in random bowls I attempt to put into the dishwasher. Dried clumps that were failed slime attempts and the really mushy ones that she plans to save but hasn’t yet transferred into her very own slime bowls. If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry.
I tell myself that furniture pieces are just objects upon which to rest or socialize. They don’t have to be fancy, just sturdy, and can easily be replaced. There will come a time when the kids are grown and off with their own families, my messy dear little dogs and cats will have left this earth, and it will just be me and my husband. We can have expensive fabric chairs and couches if we wish, but I’ll always trade, in a heartbeat, those material things, for the messy little fingers and toes all over my olive-green, circa 1965, thrift store chair.
(August 2015, my brood at my brother’s wedding)