When I was 8 months pregnant, I had just moved from China to Northern Ireland. I was by myself and after five fraught weeks had finally signed a lease and got some keys to a house.
Quite a lot of things for sale online have secret smallprint that you don’t spot until you try to get stuff delivered and find out that yet another shop calls itself a UK store but doesn’t ship to Northern Ireland. This meant I then had to go to shops and see what they had locally. I was four weeks away from my due date and at that point where everything is just really shit and I just wanted to lie down and be fed reruns of Mock The Week and fizzy apple juice (the cravings were real).
So it was that I headed to the retail park and waddled into a sofa shop. We’ll call it Barvey Horman because this is a misadventure, not a review. I was the only customer.
There were some really cute animal stools and I thought it would be lovely to get one for baby’s nursery. They were £80 but I thought they were so nice I’d splash out. I made a mental note.
Then I went to try out a couple of sofas, since I was actually in the market for one and this place allegedly had a sale. Really I wanted to sit on them to make sure they’d be comfy because you can never tell with sofas.
Enter Stanley the Salesman. Balding. Middle aged. Greying. Larger than average. Cheap suit. None of these things really bothered me, but now you can picture him, too.
“Can I help?” he asked.
I tensed a little but told myself there was no reason to stress. I just really don’t like being approached by sales staff in shops. What happened next was textbook for why.
“No thanks, I’m just trying them out. I need to feel them.” I have texture issues. At the time I didn’t know how to put that into words but some textures really upset me and it hit a zenith during this pregnancy.
“What are you looking for?”
“Something comfy, upholstered, and that guests can sleep on. At least three seats. Maybe a sofa bed?”
“Oh here’s what you want, come with me.” He led me across the store. It was a bit obvious that I was 8 months pregnant and not very mobile, but I slowly waddled.
He led me to a black leather set of what looked like three recliners all joined together to make what I can only describe as a recliner sofa. It was obviously the most expensive thing in the shop.
It was nothing like what I was looking for. And I absolutely hate black leather furniture, it’s tasteless, stinks, looks shit really fast and who wants to stick to the chair in summer? I know many people love it but I just don’t.
“All the chairs recline. Oh, except the middle one. That’s not a real recliner. But look it does this instead.”
To my abject horror, he pulled down the back cushion and I kid you not, one of those drinks armrests, like in the back of cars, was now occupying the middle seat.
What adult would put this in their house?
It was aimed at 12-year-old boys!
If I’d worked there, I wouldn’t have been able to take that sofa seriously as something to sell to someone. I would have filled the drinks compartments with Ferrero Rocher and put a cardboard cutout of Lando Molari on one side looking despotic and Gul Du Kat on the other side.
In fact, why not drag in a third fandom and stick Leia in a bikini in front of it, looking really mad at the fact she couldn’t sit down because the third seat was taken up by a stupid cupholder armrest? I couldn’t think of a single other use for such a tasteless piece of furniture.
Neither could they, apparently. They just had a big dull plastic sign on one side. The salesman sat down on the other, leaving me standing. I glared at the cupholder armrest.
“It gets better.” He preoccupied himself with opening another thing on the sofa.
I was still reeling in horror. My legs were aching and shin splints were grumbling. I wanted a drink and a sit down. And I’d found myself standing next to the only sofa in the shop that I didn’t want to sit on.
Then he showed me the USB slots. The sofa had USB slots.
There were also speakers in the armrests.
“You can connect it to the TV via Bluetooth.”
Why would I want that? I’d never sat on a sofa and thought, “You know what this needs? Bluetooth.”
Not only was this aimed at 12-year-old boys, it was designed by one. An electric sofa with a newborn baby. I mean, how the hell do you sit on a sofa like that without worrying? What would happen if my waters broke on it? Would it short-circuit?
I didn’t want a sofa that I had to plug into the wall. I had a prepay electric meter. What an absolute waste of space and energy. I have never been so repulsed by a piece of furniture in my life and we had that awful 80s black MDF in the 90s when real wood veneer was the thing.
“Your husband will be able to watch the football in comfort.”
Sidenote: My husband has never voluntarily watched football. We only watched the England semi final in 2018 when we were in Nepal because I wanted to see it.
What the fuck kind of moron hears, “fabric sofa” sees, “pregnant woman” and thinks, “boy’s toy sofa for 12 hour Call of Duty marathons”?
I am rarely rendered speechless and the people who do it to me never find out how unusual and special they are that they’ve achieved that.
Stanley didn’t mind that I was speechless. Maybe he mistook it for rapt amazement, because it gave him more time to pitch this sofa to me. After a long spiel about how good it was for football, I stated the very obvious.
“I’m not sure it’s right for a newborn, he might be sick on the electrics.”
“No, it’s perfect because look, it lights up so you don’t have to put the lights on and disturb your husband when you’re feeding the baby at night.”
Ok, more speechless was apparently possible. I don’t have to disturb my husband when I’m feeding the baby at night? I bit back the urge to tell him that my husband could be relieved of the burden of disturbing me when he fed the baby at night, too (actually, he never did night feeds because no milk ducts, so we split it as milk and nappies with Jellyfish).
I didn’t see the point in bringing that up, though, because someone so deeply misogynistic would only go home and at the dinner table, as his wife put food on his plate after a long day at her job, he’d say, “you’ll never guess what this customer said today…”
I generally commute my views based on the other person’s capacity to reflect and grow and this guy wasn’t ready to hear it.
Then he turned on the sofa’s “lights” to show me what was going to save my poor husband from being wakened by his terrible wife having the audacity to feed her baby at night.
The lights nearly killed me.
There were feeble blue LEDs under the bottom of the sofa.
I’m not sure if there’s a tackier piece of furniture in all of space. It was such a boy’s toy. And the price tag matched. £2000.
I just think there’s no need to go around killing perfectly good cows to make abominable furnishing choices possible. Can we all take a moment? This poor cow thought it was going to be a nice box of burgers, or a Lady Gaga dress, or at the very worst a Pritt Stick, and instead it got turned into this.
It wasn’t even good quality leather, it was that stuff with a rough grain and pockmarks. The stuff that’s trying too hard.
I shook my head. “I don’t think this is going to work for us…”
“Wait here a minute.” He walked off. Leaving me standing there. He was gone a good few minutes. My legs were in real trouble now. I thought about walking out but I was so far from the entrance and I could barely walk, and the standing wasn’t making that any easier.
He came back.
“Here are your finance options, talk it over with your husband and see if he wants to pay in full…”
I’m not sure what made him think I needed my husband’s money or permission to buy a sofa.
I decided there was only one option left to me aside from telling him to piss off. I pulled my phone out. I was very tempted to tell him the 1950s were calling and wanted him to go back now. But I didn’t. Aside from anything, he obviously wasn’t born in the 50s and probably not the 60s.
“Hi hun. Oh, you’re outside are you? Yeah I’ll be there in a minute.” I did the “gotta go” hand gesture, kept talking to my phone’s settings screen, and walked out. To my car. Alone. I locked the doors for good measure and left the retail park.
That was all my energy gone for the day and I had to go to bed on an airbed in an otherwise empty house in the knowledge that I’d have to wait another day now before being able to get a bed or a sofa.
The next day I went to Ikea.
Five stars. Would recommend. They just let you walk around and pick stuff. Even if you’re female.
And the vegan meatballs are everything.
Liked this? There are loads of these here, new misadventures every Saturday.