Ugly Couch Astrology: Gemini, the Twin Twerps

They say people born in June have some sort of dual personality. In the case of the pictured example, I’d describe it as delusional/catatonic. When associating with Geminis, remember that you may be facing an evil twin situation and should prepare yourself emotionally.

Geminis are slippery and can deceive you with their innocent, freckle-faced, wide-eyed expressions. They’re exactly the sort of people who will photograph you without your knowing it. My brother is a Gemini, and he does stuff like that all the time.

I know this blog is supposed to be about ugly couches, and in this photo, the ugly couch is hardly visible because of the obsessive focus on the twin twerps that rest upon it. Frankly, the couch–though dated– wasn’t that ugly. I mean, I’ve seen uglier.

But I’m amazed this brilliant personal toy idea didn’t catch on in a much bigger way.

Polite Sofa-ciety

This baby-blue-satin sphincter clencher looks so prim and uptight, one wouldn’t care to risk soiling it with one’s rear. Even a ride to the thrift store in the back of a pickup has failed to dent its mirrorish expanse. It looks like the sofa to which a nervous prom date might be relegated to wait out an interminable bout of hair curling.

This is exactly the sort of couch that spawned the ill-begotten plastic slipcover. I feel it would be better served by a ratty polyester afghan, so you could relax and lower your tush without fear of leaving a buttprint. However, that would disrespect the weeks of labor some upholsterer squandered on the tufting, and those weeks are now a part of someone’s lost youth.

Speaking of tufting, it’s hard to imagine there wouldn’t be an aggregation of lint wads, spare change and crumbs in the deep satin pigeonholes that encrust this couch like inverse barnacles. The absence of such detritus supports the accuracy of my suspicion that nobody ever actually had the guts to sit on it.


Homelessness–that scourge of people and pets–also afflicts couches. I would expand the couches category to include recliners, their diminutive cousins. There’s something especially poignant about the off-kilter recumbence of this one. I don’t feel quite right making fun of it.

It’s hard to look at this without a bit of cringe. Ugly couch blogging is supposed to be funny, but homelessness–even when only metaphorically suggested by discarded decor–dampens the spark of sarcasm requisite for ugly couch humor.

The world is thereby spared my torching this seating like I could if it were the pride of someone’s apodment. Let me just point out, before retreating altogether, that it appears to be stuffed with the manes and tails of My Little Ponies.


I’m not against stark modernism, although it doesn’t match the style of my house. I just need more houses. I’d like a slick condo I could use as a substrate for trendy creations in vinyl, primary colors up the wazoo and hand-screened Mondrian toilet paper.

Sometimes, though, a modern sensibility can metaphorically hurtle off the track and explode in the adjacent ditch. Try this experiment: cover the right half of this couch with your thumb, and observe only the left side. It’s not that bad, assuming one’s teeth aren’t set on edge by demanding colors.

But wait! Now uncover the other half. What is that flaccid proboscis that dangles toward the floor like the limp schnoz of a moist worm snuffling out rotten vegetation or–worse–human flesh? Suddenly I feel trapped in the setup for an eighties horror film.

If one were undeterred by the flesh-eating-worm armrest, there may yet be other issues this sofa would need to overcome; for example, the fact that it looks like it belongs in an inflatable bouncy house. But if the insane housing market has driven folks to actually consider taking up residence in bouncy houses, I say go buy this couch.


A long while ago, I thought it might be fun to get a hedgehog. It must have been a thing people were doing at the time. I mistakenly mentioned this aspiration to my future husband, who grilled me regarding the potty-training protocol for the prickly pet.

According to my sources, a hedgehog could be trained by picking up its poops and collecting them in a tray on the floor. After doing this for a while, the hedgehog is supposed figure out what is expected and cooperate fully. Here’s how my hubby-to-be reacted to the news: “Great. So now you’ve got a tray full of sh*t and a little creature who won’t come out from under the couch.”

This was an early benchmark in our journey toward household harmony. I’m sure the topic of couches has arisen a number of times since that day, but the hedgehog wasn’t mentioned again. I wonder, from time to time, how my life might be different if I had gone with the hedgehog instead of the conventional cat.

Here is a couch that also makes me wonder how lives could have been changed if a different choice had been made.

The Annoying Orange

A couch can act as a departure point for an entirely unrelated topic. This one’s color suggests a certain early-twenty-first-century political figurehead. Five seconds into that thought, I revert to ignoring the color as best I can and try to work with the jumbo corduroy instead. But, soothed as I am by the agricultural zen of its freshly-plowed texture, I find myself trumped again by that orange, so let’s just go with it.

Certain colors act as a calming unguent to the soul. Others abrade the soul’s protective coating like so much sandpaper. I couldn’t say whether the dive this color’s popularity has suffered since the seventies has been hastened by its current association with You-Know-Who. Regardless, this sofa doesn’t seem likely to reverse the trend.

The old ploy of trying to make a sale by calling it apricot instead of Velveeta won’t fool anyone. This is the hue of baby-food carrots, those weird peanut candies, bad hair dye on a centenarian actress, barbecue potato chips, a sadistic bridesmaid’s dress, the scum on a polluted pond, a velour jogging suit. I’m not sure it is the hue of good judgment. Resist.

Rhombus Rumpus

Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether a sofa is truly hideous. Context is everything. With the right orange flokati rug and a pair of green plastic honeycomb lamps on a gold chain, this doozy might just veer across the centerline into the fast lane of hipster-pad heaven.

Note its brave march against the zombie drumbeat of bilateral symmetry. Perhaps the cushions landed upside down and backward after a drunken teenage revelry in the lower half of a neighbor’s parents’ split-level. The former owners, troubled by the visual discord they somehow failed to notice in the Levitz showroom, shipped it off promptly to Habitat for Humanity.

After that, it surfed its way through every thrift store on the West Coast as a serial chain of would-be decorators came to the realization you are reaching right now. I think of its journey as a trail of tears. I wonder if the matching curtains are out there somewhere on a parallel trajectory.


Little Orphan Fanny

There are many dangers associated with sectional sofas. The dreaded sectional split up is a scenario in which orphaned modules are unleashed to roam far from the parent set. Such waifs overburden the local thrift store system on their destined way to the town dump.

This tragic byproduct of consumerism seems to be a little-recognized consequence of downsizing, divorce, or moving van accidents. However it happens, the abandoned sections are offered up as if they could somehow still function in the carefully balanced matrix that is your decor. What grotesque optimism!

This one here is hard to justify as seating, except perhaps for an individual with extremely wide shoulders and abnormally narrow hips. I suppose it could be used in the corner of a room occupied by twins, allowing them to sit together–but facing apart–and watch two different televisions simultaneously without squabbling over the program.

Nouveau Riche

One sunny day, Lester Blatt wins the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. Despite his perennial entries, he never expected to hit the jackpot, and hadn’t made any plans for the disposition of sudden riches.

Dazed and confused, he exits the bank, blinking in the afternoon light, and wonders, “What now?” At the butt end of the strip mall across the street, he spots Ralph’s Furniture Utopia. With few preferable options, he patiently waits for a walk signal and makes the crossing.

Ralph’s interior is soothingly cool and dim. Sophie Saleslady’s soft greeting lulls him into a kind of trance. He follows her from one sofa to the next as she extols their relative merits in her musical voice. It’s less about what she’s saying than the tinkling tones pouring from her soft, pink lips.

Lester wouldn’t be anyone’s picture of a ladies’ man, but he begins to wonder whether this could be his chance to leverage the power of extreme wealth. Wondering how best to earn Sophie’s attention, he scans the store for inspiration.

And then he sees it–ensconced in the picture window, bathed in a glorious aureola–the Most Expensive Sofa in the Entire Room–and, surely, the way to her heart. The commission on this ultra plastic tomato would buy her at least 20 pairs of new shoes.

This is the scenario that would propel a couch like this into someone’s home. I predict a surfeit of these on



I’m not really sure whether you’re supposed to pronounce a certain word ARTisanal, arTISanal or artiSANal, which makes me glad I’m only writing a post and not giving a speech. That issue aside, I’ve noticed marketers tend to use the word indiscriminately.

No matter how rustic its veneer, a mass-produced item is NOT artisanal. On the other hand, just because an item is legitimately crafted by the two hands of a person doesn’t guarantee they are the hands of an artisan.

Which brings me to this couch. I’m not sure whether it was factory-built to look handmade or vice versa, but its construction has all the charm of a tract-home fence. Swap the cushions for straw and you’ve got yourself  a goat pen. Or, don’t swap them and simply allow the spring-green upholstery to subtly suggest a goat pen.

Potential sitters would do well to occupy the center cushion and avoid the splintery armrests at all costs. Silver lining: it doubles as an emergency supply of two-by-fours in case some kind of pernicious root disease wipes out all the trees and you desperately need to build a dog house.