This is the story of Theresa’s dream couch. Also known as “1500 Ways to Lose a Buck”. I want you to know up front that this isn’t about how much money we have. It’s not about how blessed we are, although undoubtedly we often feel that we are blessed beyond what we deserve. No, this story is about 3 years, 3 months, and 13 days of blood, sweat, and tears. Sometimes literally, but mostly metaphorically speaking.
Saturday morning started innocently enough. Theresa and I got up at early to accompany her sister Andrea to 2nd Saturdayz. We were there primarily to drop off some cookies intended to satiate the sweet tooths of the hungry masses, and of course to peruse the vast selection of wonderful antiques and second hand goods. Little did we know an ambush had been carefully laid for us.
Theresa has long had her eye on this gorgeous Atelier Chesterfield from Anthropologie. However we are unwilling to go into debt for anything we don’t absolutely need. Because of this, even at the bargain basement (sarcasm) price of $5,998 it was going to take several decades, or at least a couple dozen raises before we could ever consider buying it.
As we wandered happily from booth to booth Andrea casually looked up and stopped dead in her tracks. Her exact words escape me at the moment, but something innocuous like, “Hey look at that cool couch…” casually dropped from her lips. I looked to my left down an aisle created by the booths and saw it shimmering beneath the dull lights of the warehouse; a shabbily regal yellow leather Chesterfield sofa. I knew instantly that Theresa was going to fall head over heels in love, and a few seconds later my fears were confirmed. I say fears, because I knew it was going to be expensive. I also knew there was no way we could afford it. We breathlessly made our way over to give it a closer look. A folded cardboard triangle beamed up at us saucily, “Yellow Leather Chesterfield Sofa, $1,500” scrawled casually in sharpie on its arrogant face. I could tell from the lovesick look in Theresa’s inquiring eyes that she was already hopelessly smitten.
The rest of the morning was quite delightful, but was largely overshadowed by the elephant in the room. After a lovely breakfast with Andrea at the Volunteer Park Cafe, we parted ways and Theresa and I headed home. After a few blocks Theresa looked at me with those irresistible blue eyes and said, “Well are we going to talk about it now?”. I was heartsick because I couldn’t in good conscience agree to a purchase of this magnitude if we couldn’t pay for it out of pocket without dipping into our hard earned savings. I was not looking forward to the impending conversation. I knew Theresa would be OK with whatever we decided, but I also knew how much she wanted that couch. Before I could deliver the fatal blow Theresa came to the rescue. A flash of inspiration light up her face and she exclaimed, “Why didn’t I think of it before! We have that whole drawer of cash!” And therein lies the real story.
For our entire existence as a married couple Theresa and I have been socking away little bits of cash whenever we come across a little extra. Instead of spending it right away we figured it would be fun to let it accumulate until we found something special, or in a worst case scenario, as a readily available emergency fund to cover unforeseen expenses. It’s impossible to remember where all of it has come from but the picture below includes everything I can remember.
We had been thinking of using this money to get a new computer, but the idea of spending so much hard earned dough on something that would be obsolete within three years has always kept us from making the plunge. After a quick inventory of our little stash we found that we’d have just enough for the couch. We headed back to 2nd Saturdayz with our hearts in our throats. At this point it had been several hours since our first visit and we were sure that it would be spoken for by the time we got back.
Hand in hand we walked through the front door of the warehouse scarcely daring to hope. It was still there. As we got closer we looked high and low for a “SOLD” sign, but there was none to be found. Theresa approached the lady in charge of the booth and told her we were extremely interested in purchasing the couch. “Oh, well this couple here is too,” she said, gesturing towards two snappily dressed people on the other side of the booth. She look at us with pity in her eyes and said, “I’ll have to give them first right of refusal, it would be extremely rude of me not to.” We were sure our fate was sealed. We watched for several excruciating minutes as the would-be sofa bandits spoke in hushed tones. A cell phone was hastily drawn from a handbag and more whispering ensued. Never have the words, “I think we’ll have to say no,” sounded so sweet. As it turns out the couple was planning to use the sofa in a bar they were opening, but couldn’t get in touch with the designer in charge of decorating. “Chester” as we have named him, was ours.
$1,500 sprouted wings and flew off happily to a new owner, and we headed home with a lovely piece of furniture that will last us years. More importantly, every time we are coddled in its leathery yellow embrace we will be reminded of the first three years of our marriage, and all of the side projects, scrimping, and saving we did together. There is something profoundly satisfying about being able to buy something this nice, this expensive, without a shred of buyer’s remorse, and to take it home not a penny in debt.
Special thanks to Deborah Burton of Ormolulu Vintage who sold us the sofa. She is a delightful lady, and you should swing by her blog ormolulu.blogspot.com to see if she’s coming to your area. And thank you to my long-suffering friend Keith Hodges who helped me lug the yellow beast up three flights of narrow stairs. I will seriously consider hiring movers when Theresa and I finally vacate our little apartment.