1 a : a piece of property found (as washed up by the sea) but unclaimed b plural : stolen goods thrown away by a thief in flight
2 a : something found without an owner and especially by chance b : a stray person or animal; especially : a homeless child
My house boasts an entire collection of WAIFS (specifically definition 2a; not to be confused with discarded children) discovered on the sides of various roads in the two neighborhoods where my roommate Bobbie Sue and I have lived. Admittedly, she has had more luck than I, bringing home the majority of the pieces. It's mainly because she pays attention to everything, all the time. I usually wander around inside my own head until I happen to find myself on my doorstep.
Oh look, I'm home already.
Her large-item catalogue includes: a green Ethan Allen recliner, a red armchair, a high-backed throne-type chair, a tall 4-drawer chest, a couple side tables, a nice writing desk, a coffee table, a coat rack, and a book shelf.
Mine pales at an amazing headboard (amazing because it has built in shelves and a bright orange vinyl cushion thingy that I like to refer to as the "backsplash") and a large, slightly curved purple porch-couch. But the porch-couch warrants a story.
I am walking down the street with my sister one day and I spot this purple couch sitting on the sidewalk, just a short two blocks from my house. We need a porch-couch. If you have a porch, you need a couch.
Help me lift this, I say.
Candace, I can't. It's too heavy.
Yes you can! Come on!
We walk to my house where I wait for my then new third roommate Gabby to come home. When she arrives I tell her about the couch and we walk back there to claim the WAIF. We arrive to discover three vagrant men sitting on the couch drinking beers. I explain that we were about to grab the couch for our porch. They apologize, asking if we wouldn't mind if they finished their beers, and then they would help carry the couch back. Sure.
One of the men is stoic, and when he speaks he seems paranoid and angry. The second man, apparently a neighborhood guy, explains that he is going to help the third man write a book about his experiences traveling around the country while following the band Slipknot.
The third man introduces himself as "Virgo." He explains that he's been following the band since California and is attempting to keep following them back out to New York. He's under the influence of something causing his speech to dramatically slur. His most memorable phrase is, I've got tattoos up this side, and tattoos up this side, he says, while gliding his right hand up each leg from the bottom. The second man laughs.
The first two men each lift one end of the couch and begin carrying it toward our house. Virgo tells me about his book plans. I try to be encouraging.
I have a word processor, the second man interjects, I'm gonna help him put it together. His grip slips a bit. The angry man yells at him for getting distracted. They put down the couch and stare at each other like wild animals.
It's cool guys, we're almost there. No rush. Somehow I placate the moment. Gabby walks apprehensively by my side, in silence.
When we get to the house, I give each of the men a cold beer. Virgo wants to hang out on the porch, but the angry man seems like he has somewhere to be. So they just leave. I worry for a moment that I will one day just find the three men sitting on the porch-couch, but this has yet to happen.
One could probably argue that I actually discovered four WAIFS that day, but this just seems wrong.