The chair entered my life in 1992. I was working my first job out of college and living in a sparsely furnished apartment at the semi-legendary Spanish Trace, off Greenville Avenue. When a co-worker’s father died, I waited as long as I could before asking her if Dad had left behind any furniture that the family didn’t need. There was this chair, she said. It was a low-slung easy chair covered in royal blue velour. It rocked and swiveled. Best of all, it was free.
I loved that chair. I watched TV in it and slept in it and did a lot of swiveling in it.
My wife hated it. One of her first decrees when we moved in together was that the “bachelor’s chair” had to go. On this front, I successfully fought My Fair Lady for a decade. The chair stayed. And I continued to watch TV in it and sleep in it and do a lot of swiveling in it.
Then, the other day, my sister-in-law broke it. She sat down a little hastily—I’m trying to be delicate here—and overwhelmed the chair’s metal superstructure with her monstrous bottom-in-law. So out to the curb the chair went. Alas. Such an ignoble end for such a fine and faithful chair.
But wait. Because what the Fates held in store for that blue velour chair neither I nor my former co-worker’s dead father could ever have imagined.
It so happens that a good friend recently bought a house down the block from me. I’ll call him Bladam. And it also happens that another good friend—in fact, the friend who shared that first apartment and, thus, the chair with me—recently dined at my house. After dinner, walking him to his car, I saw the sad chair on my curb, and inspiration struck. I said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we put that in Bladam’s yard? You know, as a housewarming gift.”
“Yard?” he said. “Let’s put it on his roof.”
And that’s exactly what we did. I won’t bore you with the logistics of the high jink, except to say that it was pretty easy. Especially since Bladam was doing some remodeling and hadn’t actually moved into his new house yet, which meant we didn’t have to worry about the racket we made. The entire operation took only five minutes.
Oh, was it ever glorious. The next morning, on the way to work, I drove by Bladam’s house and had a hearty laugh. I mean, it was a one-story house. You couldn’t miss a blue velour easy chair on the roof. Bladam’s contractor certainly didn’t miss it. He called Mrs. Bladam to suggest politely that she and Bladam retrieve the easy chair.
Bladam is a smart feller. It didn’t take him long to suss out the culprit, and he passed along his contractor’s suggestion to me. Whereupon I felt it was my duty to explain to Bladam how high jinks work. It’s incumbent on the jinksee, not the jinksor, to set things right. But he wouldn’t be persuaded. A standoff ensued.
So I called Code Compliance and enjoyed one of the more productive exchanges I’ve ever had with a city employee. I told her I wanted to report what I suspected was a code violation. She asked me to describe the violation in question.
“It’s actually a chair on a roof,” I told her. “It’s a blue velour easy chair.”
“On the roof?” she asked.
“Yes. I would say something to them myself, but these are new neighbors that have just moved in. Is that a violation that you’re aware of, having an easy chair on your roof?”
There followed the sound of much keyboard clackety-clacking. She said, “We can put it under ’illegal outside storage.’”
“Yeah, that sounds good,” I said.
Two days later, Bladam found a bright orange code violation warning stuck to his mailbox. Turns out, he had some other violations, too.
And the blue velour easy chair? Bladam blinked first and finally took it down from his roof. Presumably it is right now sitting in a landfill someplace, beneath a pile of CueCats and Diaper Genie sausages. But I don’t want to think about that. I want to remember the chair from its halcyon days when it was a symbol of a husband’s defiance and a comfy place to sit and swivel. Most of all, I want my former co-worker’s father to know that he didn’t die in vain. His chair did great things. I’ll never forget it.