If you have read my book, Valeria & The Enemy of Time, you might remember the Red Couch, formerly, the Green Couch. Things are breaking down in her timeline, and the couch is only one of the things that is changing. Red is our symbol for Danger! Warning! Halt!, and we can see that in stop signs, circle-with-a-slash signs, signal lights and brake lights, and the “don’t touch” sight of a cherry-red electric burner. In the movie, “Sixth Sense,” M. Night Shyamalan added that splash of color in ominous moments (the sweater) and as a flag for a scene where something is not as the main guy thinks he knows (his wife’s dress at their anniversary dinner).
This couch lives at the Turtle Bay Museum in Redding, California. They may change the exhibits around regularly, but you can always count on finding the Red Couch somewhere, a place to kick back if your feet are tired, or you want to watch the kids enjoy the fun without you hanging over them for a bit.
My mother-in-law didn’t care much for couches. Her ideal living room was full of rocking chairs and recliners. But I grew up with couches, and I love them! Sometimes Mom called it a “divan,” a fascinating and exotic word. Like you’d say “parlor,” or “dinette.” Or “range” instead of “stove” or “oven.”
I like the way you can change your position in unlimited poses. Reclining, half reclining, feet tucked, legs crossed, feet out on footstool, sitting on the back, sitting on the arm, sleeping…
When I was a kid, a couch was more than something to sit on; it was also a prop for play. One game we played was “Chair.” One kid would sit on the couch, very stiffly, with legs down and arms straight out in front. She was the Chair. Then the other kid would sit on her. The sitter would explore all the “buttons” on the Chair arm, pretending to be shocked at how willful the Chair could be in its mechanics. Imagine an electric recliner going haywire! The footrest would go up and down; halfway, all the way. The back might recline. Sometimes the Chair’s seatbelt would lock up tight, and the sitter couldn’t find the release button. The game always, always ended with the Chair’s eject button being accidentally pressed, sending the sitter flying across the living room!
My favorite couch game was “Sea Hunt.” The couch was the big boat, and the easy chair might be a smaller boat. We would pull our socks down so they flopped in front of us. Those were our flippers. We would fall backward out of the couch-boat, just like Lloyd Bridges did in the show. Then we would wriggle along the floor, on the carpet, “swimming,” and doing all the things we saw the scuba divers doing. Spear guns were a favorite. Getting back to the couch-boat and climbing aboard could be tiring, if you’d just had a close call in the sea.
Another game I played was Superman. It was best played in the matching easy chair, which looked just like the big, square, heavy couch, only not as wide. I wasn’t actually Superman, I was Lois Lane. For some reason, I imagined that the most exciting thing in the world would be riding in Superman’s outstretched arms as he flew through the sky, like in the Superman comic books I bought.
So I sat stretched across the chair, legs hanging over one arm, head resting on the other, my arms clutching the back while my imagination flew over the city, dodging danger.
Our brown, scratchy couch was probably old and used when we got it. Mom had to keep something wedged under one of the feet so it wouldn’t rock when someone sat on it. She finally set it and the chair outside by the road with a sign on it for $25. The neighbors bought it. Then Mom bought a lovely tufted gold velvet set to replace it. The couch was comfy and came with a recliner and love seat. We liked it, but I never remember playing any more games on it.