Two beefy fellows grunted as they lugged me into Harris & Sons Fine Furniture. I strained for a look, but my plastic-wrapped cocoon allowed only hazy glimpses. Unfortunately, I smelled everything. The moist armpits hugging me added a vinegary fetor to the fog of stale cigarettes and salami I’d inhaled the entire trip. Every stinky, bumpy mile from Hickory, North Carolina.
A bony man maneuvered me to the prime perch, the front window display. Apparently I was all the rage. The previous spring, a New Yorker copyeditor whose desk (so far as anyone knew) squatted among the clanking boilers received a last minute assignment to produce filler for an issue on nouveaux home décor. He had only twenty minutes to figure out what exactly home décor entailed before he sat down and banged out a title: “Return of the Blues.”
I once heard that most fashion crazes trace back to a rich, 70-something hippie in Topeka, stoned out of his mind but laughing his ass off. All I know is that here I was, soaking up the sunlight and enjoying a stream of women walking in to rub my indigo fabric. No complaints by me.
My arrival bumped an emerald green couch, a classy little import from a village on the French Riviera (or the Côte d’Azur she insisted), back to the showroom floor. I offered an olive branch, explaining how that of all the couches I’d known, her delicate curves and silk buttons were most exquisite. She only grew more livid. I’m a chaise lounge, you ninny!
A woman with grey-flecked hair and tired, kind eyes purchased me; and I arrived at the house where the years clicked by. The years and the people.
There was the boy who used me for a springboard. Cape attached, he bounced mercilessly until (sweet relief) he would catapult across the living room. The adults were convinced he needed meds. I think he just needed people to stop telling him what to feel. His grandparents cared for him best they knew, but what could ever make up for all the love he’d lost?
The young, giddy couple, bright for life. Many Saturdays, they’d collect the lingerie and underwear that landed on me the night before. Eventually they split up because she wanted more, while he could never say what it was he wanted.
Decades passed. The faces faded. I faded. Eventually, someone suggested a trip to the dump. Long ago – the show-window, that sexy chaise lounge.
But Thaddeus, retired now from the university, would hear nothing of it. Just gettin’ comfy, he said. Thaddeus had a couple college boys cart me onto the oversized porch, near the old Japanese maple. Most mornings, Thad comes to sit. He tamps his pipe, and together we watch the world and smile. We both think our upholstery is just fine.
This piece was written for the Life With Objects project brilliantly architected by my friend and fellow word-crafter Hope Voelkel. You really should hop over and check out what they are doing and some of the other writers.