When seeking shelter in Los Angeles, people agonize over hardwood floors, ocean views, ZIP Code status, Trader Joe's proximity. Rarely is interior-accessibility on the list. And that's a mistake. Because this is the mathematical probability that your furnishings (exhibit A in the moving truck) can be placed, with the application of reasonable force and intelligence (exhibit B, the moving guys), inside your new house or apartment (exhibit C, your new house or apartment). Most people believe that as long as exhibit C is bigger than exhibit A this is not a problem. I know I never thought it was. Until I discovered that while my interiors are spacious, they are accessibly challenged.
It started when a friend gave me his sofa. It is a lovely sofa, buttery cream with down cushions and pillows, and it really pulled the whole apartment together when the movers stepped back from where it fit most naturally--wedged lengthwise half out the front door, jammed against a wall and the doorway. Two and half hours of twisting, turning, leaning and pushing and that puppy still wasn't going anywhere. Basically, my moving guys told me, the doorways of my 1920s apartment building are too narrow and short (kind of like the actors of the same period). And even if they had gotten it through the doorway, it wouldn't have fit through the hall, the one that leads to the living room the size of Mortons.
The city, my moving guys assured me, is chock full of houses and apartments like mine with "Alice in Wonderland" doors, hallways as capacious as the burial passages of the Great Pyramid, and angular, ultra-hip floor plans that make the possession of a dining room table an utter impossibility. And they don't even want to talk about stairs, particularly in the Hollywood Hills and Silver Lake--six inches wide and zigzagging up sheer rock is pretty much standard, I was made to understand.
So I was confident that I could find a sofa to fit my not-so-unique requirements. Three weeks later I was convinced the local sofa industry was yet another victim of this city's inability to wed dream with reality. In other words, I have never seen such enormous sofas in all my life. Eight, 8 1/2 feet long, 4 feet deep and overstuffed? I guess people think they will look slimmer when draped against 350 yards of down-filled gold damask. I traveled all along Melrose and Beverly; I went to Pasadena, to Burbank, to Long Beach; I went to the Levitz behind the railroad tracks in Glendale, for pity's sake. If it wasn't too big, it was too ugly; if it wasn't too ugly, it was $2,500.
I thought of my poor pygmy doors and began to imagine life without a sofa. (The last time my brother visited, he eyed my collection of tables and chairs and said: "I'll have a mocha decaf and a slice of cheesecake.") I heard myself laughing gaily and explaining to my friends that I just really like tables and chairs.
Then I saw a chair that looked like a sofa that I could live with. I was driving down La Brea. I pulled over, parked illegally and ran inside. And there it was against the wall. An extra-large love seat. And after they removed the legs and the doors and leaned it just so, it fit perfectly.