Round 1: Laura vs. Le Clickclack
In my apartment, my tiny square in the 18eme, there is a single significant piece of furniture. It is a bed and a couch, but not at the same time. In America, I would call it a futon, but that actually seems too simple a word, and conjures too specific an image, to describe the exact nature of this contraption. American futons seem so much like fake furniture, the domain of the unemployed and the in-transition. Mine, though, seems substantive, and thus successfully convinces and deludes me that I am neither of those things. When it’s folded up, it really looks like a couch. When it’s unfolded, it really looks (and more importantly, feels) like a bed. In France, this piece of furniture is called a clickclack, after the noise it makes when it is, itself, in transition. This is only fitting because, in my head, when I realize that I have only a foggy idea of how the next ten years of my life will go, I make the exact same noise.
There is nothing special about this clickclack at all (I think it’s from Ikea, so don’t blame the French for what I’m about to describe.) except that it’s quite comfortable and that it tried to kill me.
It is difficult to describe the specifics of the clicks and clacks of this bed/couch, but suffice it to say that it works on two big hinges that must be moved to and fro and bent back over onto themselves in order lock the clickclack in either of its beddish or couchish positions. Locking it requires catching tricky little latches in tricky little slots, and oh. Both of the hinges are spring-mounted. If I were a detective in the midst of an attempted murder investigation concerning my clickclack, that would be an important point.
Hinges that are also springs tend to want to stay in either one position or the other. I am not a mechanically inclined person, but I understand that much. So then imagine what happens when you try to move those hinges, which do not want to be moved. There is resistance. And stuff tends to get caught. In my case, stuff included an arm, three fingers, both of my legs, and—I’m guessing on this one, just based on the bruising pattern—a knee. At one point, I was completely folded up inside it with little hope of escape. I just tried to stay very still and prayed that my neighbors wouldn’t come up to complain about all the noise. At this point, things had progressed so many decibels beyond simple clicking and clacking, and I don’t know how to say, “I’m sorry. I’m just trying to put my bed away,” in French yet. Also, I was not entirely sure how I would extricate myself long enough to answer the door. Also, I was not sure if I could still walk.
I got it back together, finally, but not before catching three of my fingers in the latch. I took a victory lap around the apartment (elapsed time: 4 seconds) and pumped my fists in the air as though I’d just shattered a world record along with both of my femurs.
There is, of course, a way to put the clickclack back together that does not necessitate bloodshed, and I figured it out in about a day. After a week in the apartment, the whole process takes about a minute and causes, on average, one small injury a day instead of eight big ones, which feels like progress. Out in the city, on the way to the Metro, the boulangerie, I repeat it to myself constantly: This is all a process. The whole thing. It all gets better and faster with practice, the latches clicking neatly into place.