Frank and I bought a new couch today. I’m aware that that sounds sort of boring, but we are not the kinds of people that can afford to just go and buy a new couch whenever the mood strikes. In fact, the money for this one was a birthday gift to Frank from his mother, which was very generous of her.
But: the real reason it is so exciting to get a new couch is that from the moment it arrived in our apartment, Frank has hated our old couch. I mean hated. To be fair, it is a shitty couch. It’s from Ikea, which I’m sure you are all aware varies highly in quality from product to product, and is pretty much the cheapest couch they sell. We bought it when we moved in together, along with basically all of our other furniture as we were both the roommates that didn’t own furniture, so there wasn’t a ton of money to go around.
It’s small and squat and beige. After cheaping out on the $50 for a couch cover, it became beige accented by spills and dirt smears. We finally bought the slipcover, but there is no way to anchor it to the couch—you just kind of tuck it into all of creases, so that it is always half tearing away and weird crumbs and stuff get stuck in it. I do not need to tell you that there are also many places on it that have been destroyed by cats.
So it’s a bad couch. I’m not a fan. But Frank’s loathing for this thing goes far beyond what is reasonable for a piece of furniture. He once kicked it in a fit of pique (trying to get the cover to stay on) hard enough to limp for a few days.
It’s funny because as long as I have known him, he has done this: chosen objects that are admittedly flawed and just fixated on them, pouring way more energy into despising them than makes sense. For example, we have had three different trashcans in the kitchen over the course of our cohabitation because for whatever reason, he finds the kitchen trashcan maddening. So far the new one is okay, but it is only a matter of time before it is replaced with some by-Frank’s-occult-estimation-superior one.
Also, I have a pair of sleepy time sweat pants that make him nuts. Yes, they have some amount of holes in them. No, they aren’t the first choice of sleepwear I go to. But what the hell, man? Can’t a lady wear a comfy, holey pair of jammies when all others are in the hamper? Apparently not. Don’t even get me started on how much he hates our blue ‘80s-style bathroom.
My point is that these fixations, though based somewhat in reality, I think also serve as loci for otherwise free-floating anger and frustration. They’re like talismans of pissed-off-ness.
At first, I thought that he just needed some kind of release mechanism—a non-human, non-cat thing to pile all the extraneous hate and grump that accumulates when one is a person out in the world. I worried that by fixing the thing that he hated, he’d be forced to re-locate the anger somewhere else, so it was basically useless to bother.
I’m wrong, though. When something Frank hates gets fixed or upgraded, the anger seems to magically dissipate. So perhaps the objects were manufacturing anger themselves, after a while, instead of just absorbing what was pre-existing.