For most of the quite nearly 100 years of its existence, our building has been sliding slowly into what is called, with good reason, Manhattan Valley. This means that the floors in our apartment are so slanted that if, say, a vat of water were suddenly dumped in the living room, by the time the water got to kitchen it would have developed the momentum necessary for playing Poohsticks. While this might be a selling point for the under-5 set, for a cranky grown-up like myself the slant in the floor has been a source of great frustration since Todd and I moved in over two years ago: it's impossible to do yoga at home, for one thing, and for another, until very recently, our office was configured in such a way that it was necessary to place rugs under our desk chairs; without some form of traction, all we would have been able to accomplish at our desks was hanging onto the edge of them for dear life (a visiting friend once found the fun in this situation, pushing off from the desk while leaning left or right, causing the desk chair to circle in an amusement park ride-esque manner as it flew downhill. This is all fun and games until someone runs into the closet doorknob, but I digress).
For the first year or so in the apartment, the office chairs were anchored with the remains of a very, very old, very, very dirty, and very, very fake Persian carpet that Todd had purchased long before he had me around to save him from himself. In true economical graduate student fashion, we cut the carpet in two, placing one half under each of our office chairs. The dirt-encrusted pile of the carpets provided excellent traction.
If I had gotten hired at a New York City college with faculty housing, the story would have ended with tossing the rug and moving on to spacious and level living conditions, but as it turns out I got hired at the other type of New York City college, which meant I had both the means and the need to shop at Ikea. My deep hatred for Ikea really warrants its own post; for now, let's just say that after painstaking internet research and some phone calls, we drove out to a New Jersey-based Ikea to purchase Ringums. I chose a red Ringum for myself; Todd opted for a more masculine beige.
So Red Ringum came home with us a little over a year ago. I was filled with such hope. Red Ringum was going to save us from the slant and look good doing it. And Red Ringum did in fact accomplish both of these objectives; the problem was that Red Ringum wanted to do so much more. Be so much more. Be so many more places.
Red ringum. red ringum. redringum. redringum redringum redrum redrum REDRUM.
Excuse me. Where was I?
It turned out that Red Ringum shed. A lot. It was like living with Clifford. Red fuzz in every corner of the apartment. Red fuzz in the bed. Red fuzz stuck to my students' homework. Red fuzz in my mucus. Red fuzz in my lungs. Red fuzz in my knitting projects (hardcore readers - or readers in need of further procrastination fodder - should feel free to look back through my various knitwear pictures, clicking on them for big file versions, because at least one of the pictures clearly shows a red fuzz infestation).
Do you remember those almost certainly carcinogenic red tablets that the the dentist would give you to chew after brushing your teeth, or was that only my dentist? Any lingering tartar would be dyed red, and from this you were supposed to learn something about oral hygiene, and possibly also something about the futility of doing your best.
The slightest hint of Red Ringum's fuzz had a similarly revealing effect on what would otherwise have been mostly unnoticeable standard issue dustbunnies.
Over the course of several heroic attempts to clean Red Ringum into submission, Todd succeeded in little more than severely damaging our vacuum cleaner. It became clear that the shedding would only stop when the supply was exhausted. Red Ringum was an evil, twisted version of The Giving Tree. I had, alas, thrown away the noble bisected Persian carpet in a fit of optimism/hubris, and so, in order to keep my desk chair from going into amusement park ride mode, I had no choice but to live with Red Ringum until such time as we were able to replace it. And that day, my friends, is today. Today Red Ringum is being put on the street with the following note:
Free carpet! No bedbugs, but shedding will drive you crazier than the bugs would.
I would be sad about Red Ringum leaving (I'm irrationally sentimental), but I know from long, bitter experience that he won't ever really be completely gone. Kind of like shingles. Or the New Delhi Police (motto: For You, With You, Always).