... In 13 easy steps!
1. Own a couch that is honestly about 50 years old, a couch that your grandparents acquired after World War II, a couch that has spent significant amounts of time in many different zip codes, a couch that is a little worn and tired but still quite comfortable and no worse for the wear, except for the occasional hair spray stain from the 1960s-1970s.
2. Several years later, come to a dawning realization that the cushions of the couch all of a sudden seem kind of... dirty.
3. Two days later, mention this to your wife. Find out she has noticed it too. Be troubled.
4. A day later, look more closely at the discoloration. Note that it is kind of bluish, and is all along the top and edges and sides of the seat cushions. Could this have rubbed off from your jeans? Who knows?
5. Send a chummy email to your mother, asking if it's ok to put cushion covers in the washing machine. Don't feel reassured.
6. Call your mother five minutes later. Find out that you should probably dry clean it.
7. After you hang up the phone, look at the couch from different angles to see if it's really bad, or not really that bad. Ask your wife what she thinks. Ask your wife if this is something "people" would see, or something just you are aware of. Ask your wife about the odds of a drycleaner getting rid of the weird bluish fog on your couch. Is she 50% sure, or 80% sure it will work? Because you're like 35% sure. And what if it gets TOO clean, so that the rest of the couch looks weird and dingy compared to the newly pristine cushions? What if that is even worse than this?
8. Answer the phone when your mother calls again minutes later. Be reassured by the fact that, while you were obsessing over the couch, she had called your grandmother (after 9 pm, no less) for additional counsel. Consider that you come from a long line of people who are concerned about their couches. Listen to your mother's warnings of discoloration, and her recommendation to get some fabric cleaner and try to test it yourself.
9. At 9:30 pm, rally your wife for a late-evening run to the grocery store. Stop by Chipotle for a coke fifteen minutes before closing time. Always find the silver lining.
10. At the grocery store, fail to find any of the products you need. Buy a small plastic brush for more money than you think this item should reasonably cost. Wouldn't it be cheaper if it was made by some Malaysian orphan somewhere?
11. At home, strip the cushion, pick an unobtrusive area, and try to scrub out the fog with the brush and some cold water and some Tide. Watch in discouragement as the color bleeds a little bit. Drape the damp and bedraggled cushion lining over a chair and hope it dries in the morning. Make a tentative plan to maybe take it to the drycleaners in the morning, depending on how it looks. Or maybe try scrubbing it with just cold water, so the colors won't run.
12. Continue to worry about it. Can you afford to have a guy come in and clean the couch? Can you afford to replace the couch? Would you want to? Probably not.
13. Round up some NyQuil, kick back half a bottle of Pinot Grigio and wait until morning.