Pondering the Meaning of the American Sofa

Pondering the Meaning of the American Sofa

Nancy Mitchell
Feb 27, 2012

At the tender age of 28, I have finally reached a benchmark of American adulthood: I am about to purchase my very first real couch. (That is, of course, if you don't count the giant corduroy lump I purchased at Big Lots as a college junior. Which I don't.) The search for the sofa has been going on, informally, for more than a year. That's longer than I spent looking for a car. Longer than I looked for a house. A sofa is a big deal.

Part of the difficulty of the search is the level of attachment I feel to my current couch. Not the corduroy lump, but my 'main' couch, an ugly plaid monster purchased by my parents circa 1976. That couch has been my couch my whole life, from birth through college (when I inherited the monster when my parents upgraded) and on into adulthood. Thinking about replacing it has made me realize just how big a role my couch plays in my life.

Engaged as I am in sofa-related pontifications, this NPR story pondering the meaning of the American sofa came at just the right time. The sofa, it points out, is 'home base, North Star, study carrel, dining booth and royal throne rolled into one.' It's where we watch TV, learn to kiss, learn to create. It's where our friends sleep when they're on vacation, or too drunk to drive home. It's the repository of accumulated years of fast-food crumbs and pocket change.

All this has made me feel a little better about my big search. Maybe it's normal to get a little attached to a piece of furniture on which one spends so much waking time. Maybe all the time I've spent on catalogs, Ebay searches, and visits to thrift stores is justified - after all, this could be the couch that my kids end up lugging off to college. Maybe it's worth it to find the one that is not too big, not too small, not too hard, not too soft, but the Goldilocks of sofas - the one that is just right.

Read more:
The Deep-Seated Meaning of the American Sofa from NPR
Image: Dierk Schaefer/Flickr via NPR

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