A couch is a deadly thing. Oh sure, it looks harmless enough, with its soft, plump cushions and its coveted vantage point in front of the flat screen, but trust me, these are only clever features, strategically placed to tempt the unsuspecting–the otherwise energetic individual. Wooed by its siren call, we react accordingly, tossing cardio inducing chores, honey-do lists, and landscaping activities in favor of lounging, snacking on sat-fats, sipping empty calories, and…napping. Veins and rain gutters clog in unison. As the grass in our lawns thicken so does our girth. Toxins accumulate in our blood and litter our many biological systems. In comparison, numerous unfinished projects lie scattered about our property in various stages of completion and dilapidation. Soon follows marital distress, self loathing, and possibly a summons from city hall. If we’re not careful, this bastion of relaxation may also double as our sleeping quarters. It seems as though the couch is capable of causing heart trouble on multiple levels. In short, a couch can kill you.
This piece of furniture is the lion fish of the living room or den. It’s beautiful. Inviting. Insidious. When encountered, our free will becomes anesthetized by its many keen embellishments. We spot the familiar crater identifying our favorite resting place; evidence of countless asteroidal trips taken from the standing position to sitting while holding a six-pack and a platter of nachos. The stains around the built-in beverage holder in the arm rest instantly transport us back to that frozen margarita that gave us a brain-freeze on that day our favorite team won the Super Bowl. Soon, we become trapped in an intoxicating fog of nostalgia. We are no longer the captains of our day, the predators of the chore list, or the one hammering away on that road bike striving for a personal best. We are now prey.
Hypnotized, we soon find ourselves wanting to interact with this leather-bound nemesis, convinced by our pleasant memories that it’s safe. The moment we make physical contact, however, we’re zapped with its venom. Our knees buckle, we collapse and reach out instinctively for support, but find only the tv remote as we sink into plush, familiar comfort. Now, our every desire to experience the outdoors and pursue healthy activity becomes paralyzed. The seat on that mountain bike, and the soles of those running shoes remain cold. Dandelions and milkweed sprout along property lines, around trees and flower beds, growing un-checked while the gas in our lawn care equipment slowly degrades into harmful shellac, clogging lines and filters. Days, perhaps weeks later, when we’re finally prompted into action by the sounds of the Serengeti emanating from our front yards, we excavate that lawn care equipment from the depths of storage sheds that stand like forgotten tombs housing hidden treasures. This, only to discover that we can tug the pull-cord on the echo weed trimmer until our flabby arms fall off and never once summon the shrill scream of a two-cycle engine or the masculine scent of 50:1 mix wafting in the breeze. We will seek refuge back at the couch and scan through our basic channel lineup to free our minds from the money we’ll soon be parting with at the small-engine repair shop. Meanwhile, weeds will grow tall and develop thick, stout stems while conversely, our bodies (resting on the couch) will devour unused muscle to convert into protein, and stack fat upon thinning bones as we graze on Cheetos, big macs and fries, and sip cola. This trend continues until our go-to excuse becomes “I just don’t have the energy”.( Fast food makes a slow dude.)
The allure; the undeniable, irresistible tug of the couch isn’t just confined to the human race. This affliction has the unique ability to jump species, and to affect other domesticated brands of life. Most notably, house-pets. I remember a dog that a friend of mine once had. Harvey was his name, and he possessed a certain prominent feature that ensured that he wouldn’t be crowded while stretching out in his favorite spot, which was notably, not too far from mine. Whenever Harvey would sit on the couch, his sizable testicle-filled scrotum would rest next to him with all the quiet dignity of a large, pink wad of discarded bubble-gum sparsley covered in wiry dog hair. In time, I began to postulate that it might actually be a separate entity; a living creature capable of existing on its own. Not wishing to chance the possible forfeit of my couch privileges, I resisted the urge on several occasions to gently nudge it with a beer can in an effort to test this theory. Some things are just better left a mystery. All efforts in my later years to emulate Harvey have failed, and I can but envy him.
Despite the bewitching qualities of the couch, some have the power to resist. These tempered souls march straight through their living areas without offering the malevolent, comforting, muscle-melting beast that dwells there so much as a glance. On their days off, they bound from their slumber each morning with a garden tool in each hand and the fresh scent of cut grass in their heads before the rest of us even so much as blink. Afterwards, they pull themselves up by the straps of their tri-suits and become athletes. They test the limits of their high-end bicycles hammering up the hills, and torture scores of running shoes traversing miles of pavement in the pursuit of increased stamina. When they return home, they reward themselves with a hard-earned and well deserved visit to their couch. And when they do, they’ll find no familiar depression, no crater waiting for them–only a firm, flat cushion. My hat is off to those who belong to this elite group–those who are brave enough to push themselves, and discover what they’re made of, to get things done, and to surprise even themselves with what they can accomplish by just simply ignoring the couch as an alternative, and regarding it instead as a reward. Deep down, I think we all wish we were a lot more like these spirited warriors, and maybe, just a little more like Harvey.