With another birthday fast approaching, I’m coming to grips with the realization that the older I get the more excited I am about seemingly ridiculous things.
For example, I’ve been a member of the genetics testing group 23andMe for a few years now. The idea of genetically determining my ancestry was somewhat interesting when I first spit in a cup and mailed it. I’m not really sure what I expected it to reveal, but the results didn’t exactly change my life. I’m more Italian than I thought and a lot less German than I was told. I was excited to see I was 2 percent African, but for some unexplained reason, 23andMe took that away from me last year and made me 2 percent more Italian, which isn’t as interesting.
Once all that information was in hand, I didn’t really have any idea what to do with it. The company tries to connect you with “relatives,” but they’re really just strangers with some common 3rd or 4th great grandparent in the woodpile. They’d probably want to borrow money.
But then 23andMe started asking me to fill out genetic surveys and, for some stupid reason, I love answering them. What I like most is how totally random they are. I’ll take a survey about Parkinson’s Disease and in the middle there will be a totally strange question like, “Do you ever wear a baseball cap backwards?” or “Do vacuum cleaners frighten you?”
Maybe it’s just that 23andMe seems more interested in getting to know all about me than anyone else does, or maybe it’s just part of the aging process to need weirder and weirder things to excite me.
My parents have displayed this trend for years now. For instance, they like to find pieces of wood they think resemble other things — usually animals — and then see if anyone else can tell what it is.
“Can you see it? No? It’s a platypus! See his bill right there and this rotten part looks like a beaver tail.”
I play along, thinking, “I wonder if 23andMe has a test for Alzheimer’s?” But now my kids are giving me that same condescending look all because I’m so excited about our new couch.
My wife made the decision a few months ago that it was time for a new couch to replace the two formerly white couches that have been discolored and beaten out of shape by years of dogs’ dirty feet, kids spilling things and, in particular, the penchant for one pet to sleep on top of the backrests. Calling them “dingy” would be a complement.
Beth mentioned the desire for a “sectional” couch — one of those big boys that takes up most of the room — and piqued my interest. I was envisioning one with an ice chest under one cushion and at least a couple of recliners built in, but I kept that to myself figuring I’d have to warm her up to a couch with such incredible features. If I was lucky enough to land one with an ice chest, a microwave and a built-in septic tank, I might never have to leave the couch again during a football game.
Of course, she didn’t seem interested in anything that fancy when we started looking, and I felt my interest level waning when I saw the outrageous prices for just regular sectionals that didn’t have any of the top-shelf features I really wanted. That’s when fate stepped in.
We ended up at dinner with Andrea Milham, the lovely sister of Lagniappe’s cuisine guru Andy MacDonald, and owner of Southern Antiques in Laurel, Mississippi. Beth started talking to her about couches and Andrea casually mentioned she might be able to find something. Boy did she!
A couple of days later she called Beth and told her about a great deal on a barely used sectional. Nothing was mentioned about the features I had hoped for, but the price was incredible and the wife was happy. Maybe I didn’t need a couch with a toilet after all. But Beth buried the lede, as we say in the news business. A day or so later she let it slip that the couch had also been on “Hometown.” Now I was excited!
Unless your TV was stolen a decade ago, you’re probably keenly aware of “Hometown,” the HGTV uber hit series about Ben and Erin Napier fixing up houses in Laurel and turning them into showplaces for next to nothing. While I’ve never really watched much HGTV, this show always catches my attention when Beth has it on because during the “reveal” at the end of each episode when the new owner comes in, the cost for turning some dump into a showplace is just jaw-droppingly low.
They’ll say something like, “OK, you bought the house for $14 and had a budget of $25,000, to completely rip it apart and rebuild it with all these cool, one-of-a-kind features, so here’s your 4-bed, 3-bath historic home with a hot tub made from repurposed wood torn off the old barn out back for $25,014!”
So our new couch had actually been on an episode of “Hometown.” Apparently, the person they redecorated the home for passed away and the new owners wanted to use their own furniture, so they were selling off the “Hometown” stuff cheap.
Now the “Hometown” couch is in our living room, along with a couple of huge pelican paintings that also made it onto the show, and I can’t shut up about it. “Come sit down on the couch. Can you guess where we got it??? No, not Rooms to Go! ‘Hometown!’ Erin picked it out!!”
When my brother came over and I told him about it, he immediately said, “You’ve got Jon Voight’s couch,” referencing the “Seinfeld” episode where George Costanza thinks the Chrysler LeBaron he bought was once owned by famous actor Jon Voight. Just as the LeBaron held special meaning because George thought it was owned by Jon Voight — spoiler alert! It wasn’t. — so too is the “Hometown” couch made special by the fame of Ben and Erin.
I know it’s no platypus-shaped log, but for whatever weird reason, the origins of the new couch and its pelican friends make me happy. Maybe it’s just a dumb story to tell, or that I managed to wring a column out of it. Whatever the case may be, if you come to my house and are forced to sit on the couch and watch a certain episode of “Hometown” playing on a loop, please just blame it on my advancing age.
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