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The Purple Couch

September 3, 2008 - Phyllis Sigal
If you've never seen the "pivot" scene in "Friends," when Ross, Rachel and Chandler are attempting to move a couch into Ross' apartment, watch the YouTube clip... then read on. It will give you a starting point.

Funny, huh?

OK ... well, our attempt to move Amanda's purple couch to her new third-floor apartment had a happier ending, but the process was practically as painful.

She purchased an entire living room — couch, love seat, curtains, vases and coffee tables — that she found on Craig's List, from a woman who needed to sell it because it didn't fit in her new apartment. She couldn't get the couch up the stairwell. (I see a red flag, do you?) So I asked Amanda if she was sure it would fit in her apartment. Sure, no problem.

All the pillows (and there were LOTS of pillows) as well as the coffee tables and all the accessories were stored in a friend's basement where she was temporarily staying.

As we arrived at her new apartment, a couple of months after she first rented it, her first words were, "Don't get too excited." And then, "It seems smaller than I remember."

Uh oh.

We emptied the truck we had just driven to Pittsburgh, full of her mattress, box springs, TV, etc. (That was an experience in itself ... it was an old Dodge, seemed like it was from the 1950s by the way it shook, rattled and rolled up the Interstate.)

And then, Amanda's friend, T.D., whom she had enlisted to help with the move, and my husband Bruce went for the couch and love seat frame, still at its previous owner's apartment.

In the meantime, she and I filled the car with clothes, lamps, etc., and made a few trips up the three flights.

Bruce and T.D. came back with the frames. No problem finding the apartment, getting the stuff into the truck, getting back through traffic. Good.

The love seat came up first. They had that up the stairs and into the apartment in no time. Easy. It fit. No problem.

But, it just fit. Barely. Next ... couch time.

They were doing fine ... off the truck, up the walk, into the front door, up flight No. 1, flight No. 2 ... We were holding our breath. Up the third flight. YAY!

Oh, except for now, it just wouldn't pivot correctly to get into the hallway of the third floor.

There was much conversation and thinking out loud by Bruce and T.D. ... "We've got to move it this way ... If we just had two more inches ... let's back up a bit and try again ... do you have a screwdriver? ... If these neighbors were home, we could just slide right into their front door and then turn this way ..."

Knock. Knock. No answer.

If the couch just could bend like those big-city Pittsburgh accordion buses.

Amanda and I decided to stop watching for a few minutes and get another armful of stuff. We were making our trips up the back stairs, which were more narrow than the front stairs.

Our next trip up, there was no couch wedged on the third floor.

"They're gone!" I exclaimed.

"Not a good sign," she noted.

I'm still amazed at this point of the calmness that pervaded.

I don't think Bruce and T.D. had time to get annoyed at the situation because they were too busy trying to solve the problem; after all, it was a challenge. And they weren't going to let a big, oversized, purple couch beat them.

I on the other hand, was screaming at Amanda (on the inside!) "WHY DIDN'T YOU DETERMINE THIS BEFORE .... blah, blah, blah." But, being the nonjudgmental mother I often try to be, I kept that to myself. Up the back stairwell the two boys and the purple couch came. The narrower back stairwell, you'll recall.

And then I saw it coming. We were going to LIFT this couch up through the stairwell. And then I heard Bruce explain that's what we were going to do.

As Amanda and I steadied the couch against the top railing, they two men lifted it up.

OK so far.

Into the hallway it went. Right up against the wall. Once again, there was no pivot room.

Once again, a lot of maneuvering and thinking out loud.

Squeezing it through the hallway, and placing it just so, it was ... allllmmmossst ... allllmmmmmooosttttttttt there ... Oh, so close.

"Do you have faith?" Amanda asked me. "I'm not sure, but I'll try," I answered. We sat in the stairwell, one of us with our fingers crossed. One of us praying.

"One more try, and we've just got to shove," Bruce suggested.

And, they did.

Cheers! Claps! Lots of sweat! Lots of pushing and grunting. And, it's a ... couch!

She asked me if that was a little bit like giving birth. I think giving birth may have been easier.

I do believe it was divine intervention in the end that got that couch in there.

"I'm not sure how long I'll be in this apartment," Amanda said. (Probably not the best timing on that comment!)

"I'll give you the name of a good mover," her dad said. I suggested, however, that she just sell the couch to the next tenant.

And next week ... we're off to New York to move Leland into a new place.

The good news is he has an elevator. But the best news: He doesn't have a couch.

Oh, and P.S., there's a whole Web site titled "The Purple Couch ... Stories From America's Living Room." It's pretty interesting.


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