This is a rant about, of all things, the blue chair in my office. It’s a paradise of a reading chair. There’s a lamp above it. There’s an ottoman. There’s a basket filled with magazines. There’s another basket filled with knitting supplies. There’s a nearby table with a fan on it for the heat in summer. It’s the warmest place in the room in winter. It’s perfect. It ought to be my favorite chair. Except it’s not, because I never sit in it.
It’s not because it’s uncomfortable. It’s simply because another creature is always in it. This has been going on for almost four years now, and today, I am giving up.
I got the chair in the summer of 2007. At the time, I was trying to furnish my apartment for under $40. I found the chair on Freecycle. It was advertised as being free, but I paid for it in sweat and adrenaline. I’m damn lucky I didn’t pay for it in blood.
When I spoke to the person who placed the ad, he told me that he loved the chair, but he and his roommates had to move, and the chair had to go that week. For the price of the gas I would need to drive up to East Haven, the chair could be mine.
I arranged to head up to East Haven on a Friday, after work.
When I got to the condo complex I’d been directed to, I was met by a doughy young man wearing basketball shorts and a tee shirt. He took in my work clothes and my Nissan sedan. His face puckered into a disappointed expression, the look of man who’d thought he was getting rid of a piece of inconvenient furniture on the day before a big move, but who now realized that he was going to be stuck with it after all.
“Don’t you know someone with a truck?” he asked.
I did not. I told him not to worry. He invited me into a space that had recently been occupied by a lot of guys or a few very smelly ones. The chair was in a corner, facing the TV.
The odor should have raised some concerns about the condition of the chair, but dammit, I didn’t care. I had driven all the way to East Haven. I could clean it. I told the guy I’d take the chair. He carried it out to the curb for me and stared at the car.
“You sure this will fit?”
I assured him that it would.
He scratched his head. “If you have a friend with a truck, you can come back tomorrow.”
I said that I would take it now. He shrugged, said good-bye and padded back inside. The door slammed. The chair had changed hands. It was my problem now.
It was a problem. It didn’t fit in the trunk. It didn’t fit in the back, not even when I turned it upside down and pulled the passenger seat forward. I turned it so that I was pushing the chair into the car seat first, but that didn’t work either. It was just an inch or two too big for my car door. If I really pushed, I could get half the chair into the car, but that was it.
While I was doing this, I invented a backstory for the chair’s previous owner. He was moving out of his horrible man-cave to live with his sweetheart, who had much better taste in furniture. She didn’t like the chair. She didn’t want it in her space. So I had to get it in the Nissan. If I were, say, to give up and dump the chair on the curb, I would fail this guy and his girlfriend. I would curse their union. That couldn’t be allowed to happen.
I’m not sure why it was so important to tell myself this story. Possibly to keep from thinking too hard about the fact that I was in heels and a pair of tight work pants, laboring to jam an armchair into a Nissan in front of condo complex full of people who might be watching the show from behind their living room curtains. Possibly because I was sure that the guy himself was watching, maybe pitying me, maybe laughing at me, probably both.
I was sweaty and my feet were blistered by the time inspiration struck. I would put it in the front! I pulled the passenger seat all the way back, upended the chair and shoved the chair inside. It fit. I did a little dance on the sidewalk. I shut the door. It didn’t close. I leaned on the door until the latch clicked. I tossed my purse in the back, and leaped into the car. I wiggled the chair up a few inches, so that I could get to the gearshift, and I was off, but by the time I’d reached the end of the block, I realized that I couldn’t see out the passenger window. This would make turns difficult.
At this point, a sane person would have pulled over and dumped the chair. But I was not a sane person. I added up all the turns I’d have to make on my return trip. Three. Two lefthand turns – easy enough, I could see out my left window – and one righthand turn onto my small street. Surely, if I was careful and said many, many prayers, I could manage that. As for the highway? No problem. There are no turns on highways. Highways are straight lines!
I eased onto I-95.
I burned up some good karma on that that trip. I burned some calories too. I spent most of the drive a) waiting for a vehicle to crash into me b) waiting for a cop to stop me c) expecting the chair to crash down on the gear shift and crush my hand.
None of these things happened. What happened instead was this: I got home and realized I’d have to get the thing out of the car and up two flights of stairs by myself. I honestly don’t remember getting it inside. I do remember getting it into the living room, right near the air conditioner, going to the kitchen for a glass of wine and coming back to find my cat luxuriating in my new chair.
That was that.
The cat lived on the chair during the week. My roommate staked it out on weekends. When I moved to this house, I put it in my office, where my cat continued to sleep on it. There was so much dander on it I couldn’t sit on it for more than a few minutes at a time. I vacuumed it, but to no avail. After the cat died, I vacuumed the whole thing and laundered the seat cover. I hung a little picture of the cat on the wall nearby, to honor her claim on it, even if I didn’t really agree that the chair was hers. Then I resolved to sit in it more.
Yeah. Guess who’s sitting there now? Here’s a hint: It’s not me.