Fifteen years ago, with my business doing well and our neighborhood of 30 years declining, we decided to buy a new, larger house across the freeway in Anaheim Hills. Much of our furniture was as old as our old house, so we decided to completely furnish our new home from scratch. I had always liked the idea of a recliner but didn’t care for the looks of most of them and my wife, Muri, liked them a lot less. But in a corner of our favorite furniture store, Hector’s Fine Furniture, where we were picking out a Mission-style entertainment unit and tables for our family room, was a Mission-style leather chair. I tried it out. It was not only comfortable, it was a recliner that both Muri and I liked. It came home with us and found its place in the corner across from the TV.
I have probably written hundreds of posts sitting in that chair. I have watched football (Fight On USC), basketball (go Lakers?) and, yes, several Olympics. I’ve watched countless movies, including City Slickers (17 times), Stand By Me (27 times), and Shawshank Redemption (31 times). Assuming an average of three naps a week, I’ve taken over 2,00o naps there. Years ago, when my Dad came to visit, he settled into that chair as if it was his own …he’s the only one I ever gave it up to. Now, fifteen years with an aging, less-than-neatnic man take their toll on a chair. The back rest developed a rather large sweat stain from the back of my balding head, and the footrest from the back of my legs in summer when I wore shorts. The rust-colored leather developed pale spots from years of me sliding in and out of the chair … and the seat developed a crease perfectly aligned with the crack in my old backside. The oak arms were mottled in different shades of brown from spills of everything from coffee to martinis. Yes, I’ve heard of coasters but I don’t always remember.
A couple of months ago, Muri said she wanted to replace the family room furniture. The cats had pretty much decimated the sofa and chair … and, I was told, she never really liked the fabric pattern I had picked out in the first place. OK, fine. But then I found out my recliner was on the replacement list. I tried to explain that I’m attached to my chair, that it would be like giving an old friend. The friendship argument didn’t fly. Look at it, she said, it’s discolored, stained and the leather is wrinkled. Just like me, I said. She answered, Do you want me to replace you too? Hmm. Not so much. I looked into having the leather recolored or reupholstered but it would cost more than a new chair.
Yesterday, a new sofa, chair and a brand new Mission-style recliner arrived from Hector’s. I went upstairs while they took out my chair … no one wants to see an old man cry. So here’s my question. Do only men get attached to inanimate objects? I mean, I’ve had friendly jeans (that we slightly torn and faded), friendly shirts (with that coffee satin from that day in the park) and I have an old bathrobe that Muri’s nominated for replacement several times that I’m still clinging to. My chair was my first case of Friendly Furnishings. My son-in-law gets it … when he heard my recliner was gone, he was mad because we didn’t save it for him. It had character, he said. Muri, always good with a snappy comeback, said, The chair’s gone, but the character’s still here.
The new recliner looks very nice in my corner, with its smooth, shiny leather. Last night, I sat in it and wrote the first half of this post. It’s comfortable, as new recliners go. Today, I took a nap … on the sofa. Sleeping together on the first day seemed like rushing things. The best relationships take time. We bought a new throw to protect the leather from my sweaty head and I’m going to be very careful with my drinks so I don’t discolor the wood. The thing is, if I’m going to put in the time to build a friendship with the new arrival, I want it to stay around as long as I do. I can’t send another friend off to the used recliner store without me.