Couch dwelling

The New Yorker’s recent Shouts & Murmurs piece is on being a house guest:

It took me a long time to even find the coffeemaker. It didn’t look like a coffeemaker. It looked like a rocket ship. I kept passing it by on my tours of the counters, thinking it was—I don’t know, I didn’t think about it too much, but something complicated: a crème-fraîche-culture incubator, maybe; a sorbet churner, or a homemade-bialy steamer-cooker thing.

This is uncomfortable houseguesting, which I think is the way a lot of people see it, imposing and tiptoe requiring. If I had complete control over my brain I would treat going to everyone’s house like going to a foreign country, because houses are weird, and fascinating, and educational. Ms. Allen’s version of a house guest is the intrepid kind, the kind who sees the Parthenon but mostly eats at McDonalds and is always wary of public transportation. It can be, though, more like the really proactive trips of European kids on gap years– building houses or teaching English during the day and then getting drunk with the locals at night. The latter is best for everyone. 

These are my top three couches: 

3. Early this year; unidentifiable house in LA: This was not at all a comfortable couch, but it is included on this list for sheer novelty. There were probably five couches in the living room, and while I was undoubtedly the tallest person in that room I was still left sleeping, limbs splayed, on the smallest couch. I did not fit there but the whole night was an experience. (China)

2. My parents’ couch, circa 1999: I had minor insomnia in middle school, which I’d typically try to solve by waking my parents up and complaining until they explained to me that this did absolutely no good for anyone. Eventually I learned to grab a blanket and head to our huge L-shaped couch with built-in recliners, where I’d stay up watching tv. The whole night would be mindless, and I’d wake up in the morning dazed and disoriented, wondering where I was and why I had goldfish cracker crumbs in my hair. (The Netherlands)

1. The current couch I’m sleeping on: It is exactly the right length and in the morning I wake up to fresh coffee. Also, the couch’s owner will participate in Ginger and Red Wine Poached Pear galettes with me while we talk alternately about the one time I met John Hodgeman and how hard it is being aimless. (Italy)

The first rule of couch dwelling is to always get drunk with the locals, and then in the morning wash the dishes. The second rule is that if you’re going to make a list of the top couches you’ve slept on always always make the one you’re currently sleeping on the absolute number one.

The third rule is to move, eventually. Get your own room, and a mattress. Slacker. 

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