Is this the ugliest couch in Charleston?


Blue velvet

Yesterday, we at the City Paper received an email from Theatre 99 company member Shon Kennedy that we just couldn’t keep to ourselves. It seems Kennedy has found herself in a dilemma: she’s moving to San Francisco and has to sell what might be the ugliest couch in all of Charleston. We have certainly never seen its equal, but you’ll have to judge for yourself. And if you think you should be this beast’s new owner, leave a comment. We’ll make sure Kennedy sees it.

Sure, there have been whispers over the years. Some have even had the audacity to come right out and say it to my face. But I took it all in stride. “They are just jealous!” I told myself. “They just want to be me!”

Over the past month, however — the past week especially — I fear that all of the horrible taunting and relentless name calling could actually be rooted in a single terrible, unthinkable thought — I actually do own the ugliest couch in Charleston.

How could I have let this happen? I thought it was cool. I thought it was retro. I thought it was special, or unique, and all the other words one uses to describe a date’s ugly tie on a first date. But my couch — ugly? It’s almost too much to bear.

Granted, I feel fairly certain that you have never seen one like it. The reason: it is indeed one of a kind. A very good friend, family member really, had it made in High Point, North Carolina to fit the length of her living room more than 70 years ago. It sat in her living room, encased in custom made plastic slip covers, daring anyone and everyone to imagine that they were worthy to sit upon its grace and beauty.

The couch came to me when I was moving into my first apartment. With tears in her eyes, this friend came over to my parents’ house and told me that because I was such a sweet girl, going off to graduate school at the Citadel, she wanted me to have her furniture. She was getting old, and the daily task of wiping the dust away from the plastic on the 20-foot sectional was becoming more than she could handle. She made me promise to take good care of it.

And so I’ve had it ever since. That was over 16 years ago. I immediately removed the plastic to reveal the pristine crushed velvet royal blue upholstery,  surrounded by the painstakingly hand-carved wooden details of each Victorian camel back.

As though this were not enough beauty for one room, the sofa came with a matching “throne.” They were identical to the last detail. I was quite literally speechless for some time, in awe of such a rare and precious gift.

During the 16 years I’ve owned this couch, my cold-hearted, cruel friends have blamed it for everything from a broken pinky toe to the primary reason for two of my failed relationships. Granted, the edges are quite sharp, because it’s nearly impossible to find a room in which the sectional can be properly assembled. Thus it has caused its share of bruises to those who may have enjoyed one too many glasses of wine. But these mishaps were in no way the couch’s fault.

My current problem? I am moving to San Francisco, and though I have tried for several hours each day to get someone, anyone to make me an offer on this couch, I literally cannot give it away. My own parents refuse to store it in the shed behind the house.

I took it to a consignment shop so they could hold it and send me the money once it was sold. The store was damn near empty — I think I actually heard crickets — and she looked me square in the face and told me she did not have room for it or its matching throne.

I had it “unofficially” appraised at $1600 for the sofa and $1000 for the chair. The best offer I’ve received thus far is from my friend who broke her toe on the edge of the middle portion of the sectional. “That freaking couch has ruined my life for over a decade,” she said. “When I stayed over and slept on it, it gave me bad dreams. I’ll give you $50 to let me throw a match at it. All right, $75 — but that’s my final offer.”

As if!

By the end of next week, the fate of the couch will have been decided, as I will be starting my cross-country journey.

But, for the sake of argument, for a little peace of mind, I was wondering if there was a corner of your weekly paper where you could simply post a picture of the couch and have your readers, once and for all, decide if it is a glorious thing of beauty, or, indeed, the ugliest couch in Charleston.

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