That’s me, in one of my favourite chairs – it’s a collapsible satellite chair I take camping with me, and it also sits on our front porch where I can wile away an afternoon reading. Still, it’s not COMPLETELY trustworthy. No chairs are.
I’ve had an ambiguous relationship with this furniture from a young age. They’ve been the cause of some of my major social traumas – letting me down, so to speak, at pivotal moments in my burgeoning social calendar. When I was about 9, in the classroom, nervously hoping for acceptance from my peers, a common wooden chair collapsed underneath me. If the whole thing had disintegrated, it would have been awkward but okay, but no, the metal legs and frame remained while the wooden seat disappeared. My bottom and underwear – thick cotton briefs as I recall – were exposed to the titillation of my classmates. I was successfully trapped inside the chair, unable to remove myself without aid, which was very slow to come. The humiliation was intense.
The next significant moment when this deceptively supportive furniture betrayed me was in the delicate and emotional state of my early twenties, fresh up in a new town to teach my first year as a primary teacher. My other three flatmates were teachers as well, and we were invited to come along to a young people’s gathering on Saturday night at the home of someone from the church we had started to attend. To add to the frisson of the night, one of the young men coming had expressed particular interest in me – it was all rather exciting. Entering the living room amidst a crowd of people to whom we had just been introduced, I saw a lovely wooden rocking chair in the centre, and deposited myself comfortably upon it. Discovering that it rocked rather well, I proceeded to nervously tilt back and forth, enjoying the motion. . . until it rocked over backwards and left me hanging upside down – yes, you guessed it, with my legs and underwear exposed to a shocked crowd. We left as early as was possible, and such was my haste, I drove the car over a carefully patterned rock garden in my haste to get away. We never went to another social that year.
Since then, I have fallen through a few more – most notably, a swing chair my friend Beverley and I were gliding back and forth on at the family holiday house. One minute we were chatting merrily and laughing, the next both of us were lying on our backs on the concrete driveway, legs in the air. We recovered well in our late twenties, but if that had happened in my 60s now, I’d probably be laid up for weeks.
A cafe we came across last year, specialised in remade objects – including the chairs which were reconstructed from supermarket trolleys. I was sitting in mine when it started moving gradually towards the road. Things could have been disastrous, but instead we managed to turn it all into a pleasant race. I’m just glad the traffic was light that Sunday morning. Here is Helen on the same chair.
As recently as my camping trip last week, just when you’d think I’d grown wise enough to be wary of those little four legged inanimate objects, one betrayed me badly again. It was part of a family of four, attached dubiously by plastic and hope to an aluminium table top. Part of a collapsible (I should have been wary) four person folding picnic table I purchased. When it was finally put together, it would have been a comfortable dining apparatus for a small Filipino family, and I did rather feel I was sitting on doll’s furniture as I tentatively lowered my frame upon it.
It was Thursday night that I came ‘a cropper’. Playing a round of ‘Sequence’ – a great card game, I must have become agitated more than usual. Suddenly there was a metallic rending sound, and the snapping of plastic, and in moments I was lying on my back with a disarray of cards around me, plastic tokens pinging off the sharp angle of the table top. Above it all, my sister’s head framed nicely with a look of appalled concern on her face. I laughed – and laughed – and hooted – and rolled. We packed that table up and squashed it into its box and left it for some other campers more dextrous than I to try and fix. I tell myself that is the LAST time I put my complete faith in CHAIRS without checking them over first.
THIS metal garden chair is SURELY okay – it’s all metal after all. As you see, once again I am a giantess sitting quivering upon its trembling legs. Ah well. It may be a joy to be tall when it comes to reaching high cupboards, but a small person has never suffered as I have through the treachery of chairs, be they garden, camp, dining, rocking or airline variety.