We needed a grouping.

We had a sofa and a chair and a table, but we needed a grouping.

A while ago my wife said that the sofa had to be repositioned. I couldn’t argue. We have two versions of the same sofa. One is in the sun porch, the other in the living room. Scout, as a pup, trashed the former. The cushions had been bleached by the sun. It was a mess. If we put the good living room sofa in the sun porch, where the sun would beat uselessly against its leather cushion-covers, and replaced the living room sofa and chair with a grouping, why, it would be something new. Besides, the place where we get our furniture was having a sale.

Me, internally: I would rather put a few chairs in the sun porch and keep the old sofa, because I like it, and its low lines let the room breathe. Only Scout uses the sun porch sofa. Well, also mother-in-law, when she comes to visit, but the last time I lingered on that piece of furniture was 2003, when I remember playing with Daughter on a wintry afternoon. We were making up a parade of her stuffed animals. It was charming. It’s one of my favorite memories, and it reminds you that however you constitute your notion of a perfect day, you probably already had it once, back then, and you didn’t know it. There was a day when everything was so ordinary and marvelous, and the combination of the two was never quite so fine.

Oh, you may have come close, hundreds of times. You may have exceeded one element and fallen short on another. But that day? Everything was just exactly right. And it seemed ordinary. Lucky you! All downhill now.

No, that’s not it, but you know what I mean. But. Wife gets a thing about furniture, it’s going to happen, and here I have to tread with great care. Women may say they want a husband who has good taste, but what they might mean sometimes is they want a husband whose good taste coincides exactly with theirs, proposes nothing, assents to everything. I have pretty good taste, if I say so myself. I lean towards the clean and the minimal and the balanced. For example:

So I went to the store during their rare sale - only happens four times a year - and found two pieces, a sofa and a chair. I described this before. Both, the placed in the living room, were enormous square things that were absolutely beautiful but massive, and this required some rejiggering. I would have been content to leave it at that, but she wanted a chair to make a grouping. People would come over and sit around in a grouping.

But people, I said, like an idiot, generally don’t. If they do we can bring in a chair from somewhere else. You design the room for how you live, not for a twice-a-year social event.

Yeah, I know. I can’t help myself.

Suffice to say that we now have a grouping. We went eclectic: a round modern piece that joins the Arts-and-Crafts sofa and chair. It’s round because I said that anything in that space had to be a hinge, not another block. If it was round, it would tie the pieces together. If it was small, it would not impede traffic or create lanes or alleys.

“No one uses this room anyway,” Daughter said tonight.

“Of course not. It’s the front room. It’s the parlor. It’s for events.” I noted that she used the room more than anyone, since she always laid down on the marble slab over the radiator when she came home from school, checking the news of the world on Instagram.

But she’s right. It’s a front room. It’s not a holy sacred space where no one can go, where there are plastic covers on the furniture like I had growing up, but most of our family life takes place elsewhere. And that’s fine.

So: Wife found a round chair at IKEA, and asked me what I thought. I thought it was fine, having ceded this issue a few weeks ago. I said I would go get it.

And so it came to pass that I was cooling my heels in FURNITURE PICK-UP on a weekday night at IKEA around 8 PM, looking at my watch. Thirty minutes had passed since the pick-up crew had taken my order to the warehouse. There was a stand with a sign that said TELL US ABOUT YOUR PICK-UP EXPERIENCE or something like that, and it had four buttons. Each was a face. Happy; mildly happy; mildly unhappy; burning mad.

There was another by RETURNS, asking people about their Return experience. There was a man standing over it, pressing the red mad button over - and - over - and - over again.

I looked at him, wondered what his day had been like, and then I pressed the mad button.

I pressed it twice.

I would have pressed it three times, but maybe someone called in sick.

Eventually got the box, stowed it in the Element, got it home, and realized it wouldn’t fit in the tunnel that connected the garage to the house. Walked the box up the stairs to the front door, and on the last step I put my foot in the snow, slipped, and slammed my shin down on the concrete like a blacksmith hammering a horseshoe. Oh God. Oh Man. The pain was enormous, and I thought well, if it’s not broken, tomorrow a clot will dislodge and then it’s heart attack or stroke. Or both! What matters is getting this chair inside before Wife gets home from tennis.

She loved it and I was the bestest husband ever for going to get it, and she was sympathetic when I showed her my bloody shin. I’d done my husbandly duty. We had a grouping.

Later: “it needs an end table.”

Me, silently: yes yes of course an end table on which we can place a coaster and a small book of poems three inches by four inches NO IT DOESN’T IT WILL CLOG THE SPACE AND DETRACT FROM THE LINES OF THE SOFA

Me, out loud: let’s wait for the next sale.

For some reason that night I put on a plastic pig head and asked the dog who was his god now, but that’s tomorrow’s Bleat.


There seems to be more of Her than you would think was necessary.

She won the 1926 International Pageant of Pulchritude and Seventh Annual Bathing Girl Revue. How international? One contestant from Mexico and one from Canada. So it's international and hence universal. Also:

Became known for her revealing stage costumes and nude work for photographer Alfred Cheney Johnson. As other Ziegfeld stars she did magazine ads as well such as Lucky Strike cigarette

A Texas girl at birth; died in Ft. Worth in '69.



We are at present studying the criminal strategies of the man known only as . . .

This week it's nothin' but punchin'. And it's great.

I saw tht episode just last week, and I don't remember that.

Well, that's every episode, in its own way. At the end he was in a room with a moving wall; he was about to be crushed. In fact from the end of the chapter it looked as if he had been crushed! Of course he escapes, but how?

Like that. Meanwhile, Speed, the newspaperman, interrupts the Henchmen who are trying to get Dr. Satan’s papers, or peppers as he calls them. Speed, the newspaperman, has a brief gun battle with them, as newspapermen were wont to do.

Copperhead - who is, in reality, Bob Wayne, or vice-versa - uses a trap door to get into the room where Speed was shooting at people, while the henchmen flee to Dr. Satan and tell him Speed and Bob Wayne are in the room trying to get the peppers out of the safe. Got it? Dr. Satan grasps the situation right away, and knows what to do: send the Robert. Or Robot.

If Dr. Satan was the sort to mwah hah hah, he’d have an evil shine to his face, but he’s as grim as ever. You almost wish he was overacting, just to see his reaction to this:

That’s as close to a OH SH*T as you’ll get out of Dr. Satan. turns out the robot isn’t wrecked, just trapped. So Bob and Speed find a secret passage down into an underground area where Henchmen await.

Get a load of this neck-snapping fall, and the quick recovery:

I’m telling you, this one sets the standard for serial fistfights. While this was doing on, Dr. Satan got the robot free, and sends it after Bob Wayne. Bob scurries up a ladder, which the robot attempts to pull from the cave wall.

This really isn’t the Robot’s week.

Well, they get the secret papers from Dr. Satan’s safe, including this one:

Who is agent Z-10? Who’s Professor Williams? The latter is the Scientist the DA is bringing in to work on disrupting the remote control devices. Doctor Satan - who apparently now has all the remote controls he needs - takes over the plane and tries to land it.

But of course Bob Wayne goes up in a plane and blinks out a message in Morse Code with his taillight telling the confused pilots what’s going on. The co-pilot fetches Prof. Williams, who understands right away that Dr. Satan has used his ingenious powers to place a control cell where it will never, ever be found.

Control is restored! Sure, the Prof’s retinas were blown off, but at least now they can land. Thanks, mysterious fellow in the plane ahead of us who warned us! Happy landings!


Trust your instruments, old pilots say. And how did they get to be old pilots? By trusting their instruments.

That'll do! See you around.



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