Penkava: The life cycle of the Comfyium Couchicus

There’s something extraordinary about an old comfy couch (Scientific name: Comfyium Couchicus).

No matter how many times the weed-wacker runs out of string, no matter how often you get caught chugging milk at the refrigerator, no matter how repeatedly your wife refuses a date night with you that starts with dinner at Popeye’s, your dependable commendable Comfyium Couchicus is always loyally awaiting you with open cushions.

And that’s how it is with our current thirty-year-old couch. Technically it is a camelback design with distinct turned legs, pleated arms and kiln-dried hardwood frame. But to me it is comfort wrapped in tender threadbare fabric surrounded by snuggy saggy springs. It’s the furniture equivalent of a large root beer float.

I remember way back when we bought that couch in the 80s. Since my wife studied interior design at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, I figured I’d let her take the lead. Besides, my evaluation of a couch begins with the price tag, peaks at a floor model discount and ends in free delivery.

Eventually she picked out a plaid beauty that we hoped would last through our four children. Well, believe it or not, it did that and more. The kids are gone and I was sinking into the depths of its cushions. It was like 20,000 Leagues Under the Upholstered Sea.

But I didn’t mind that. It seemed that with more wear and tear, it was becoming ever more and more comfortable. Sure, my wife had added a quilt to hang on the back to cover the worn spots and tossed a few pillows to hide the holes on the arms, but that just gave it charm and character…the couch had the charm and I was the character.

Recently, my wife had begun dropping hints that it was time to replace it. She said things like, “Michael, it’s time to replace the couch,” and “Michael, you look like a hobo lying there.” I think the hobo comment was less about the couch and more about me, but I was getting the picture. She really wanted a new couch.

Resigning myself to an eventual couch purchase, I began negotiating for the relocation of our old comfy one.

“Honey, I think our old couch would look great in the basement.”

“Michael, I think it would look great on the curb.”

“We can’t do that…we’ve had it for thirty years.”

“That’s exactly the point.”

“I mean, that couch is like an old friend. You wouldn’t put an old friend out on the curb, would you?” 

“Michael, I’d have no problem putting one of your old friends out on the curb.”

I was desperate. I needed to play my ace in the hole card.

“Honey, I’ll make you a deal. You could have any couch you want if I can keep the old one.”

“Any couch?”


“Even a leather one from Restoration Hardware? I love the Lancaster Collection in Italian Berkshire Cocoa!”

Geesh. She just pulled her ace in the hole card. Anything in that catalog is wicked expensive. All I could do was call her bluff.

“If that’s what you want, you can have it, because our old couch is that special to me. Oh, and so are you.” I thought that last part was a nice touch.

Bluff called. I held my breath and waited. Would she still go for that high-priced Italian Coca Cola couch?

“Michael, I was just kidding. We’ll go to the furniture store and I’m sure I’ll find something nice and reasonable.”

Whew! So we went there and bought a new couch. Old Comfy went down to the basement to live out his retirement years, saved from the curb, thanks to one hobo’s plaid polyester love.

• Michael Penkava is a retired teacher who taught for 35 years at West Elementary School in Crystal Lake. He suggested to his wife that instead of a couch they just buy three Amish glider chairs and duct tape them together. She just shook her head and told him to go stand on the curb. He can be reached at

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