Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Adirondack Chair

Without the slightest preamble, a chair appeared in our back yard. It was large, white, wooden and hideously uncomfortable. As a child, I would sit in it and wonder why I bothered. My butt literally sank to the bottom of this chair not because it was cushioned, but because the seat tilted at a sixty-five degree angle. I’d slide down leaving my legs reaching up toward the branches of a pear tree, on the far side of the garden. As I hauled myself up to the top of the seat, I wondered how adults could be comfortable in such a thing? Once I reached adulthood, I imagined, this would become clear to me, as many such things would. I also thought that if my feet could only touch the ground it might even be comfortable to sit with my knees higher than my crotch. And maybe by that time, I'd also be able to cross my legs!

I never saw my father sit in this chair. I suspected he constructed it in our basement during one of those never ending Canadian winters. (I never went down to the basement. Monsters lived there, many of them gorilla-like.) Year after year “the chair” would appear in the back yard, always sparkling white and well maintained. Summer after summer I'd sit in it, always hoping this would be the year to sit on it, not in it—comfortably. That summer never arrived.

At some point the chair was replaced by something more expensive, more elegant and more comfortable—a chase lounge. At least that’s what I thought my mother called it. I supposed it got the name because you could 1) lounge on it and 2) hold it like a wheelbarrow while chasing the dog with it.

In the meantime, while the intruder chaise settled in, the huge wooden chair began to decline. The armrests rotted. That was indeed a pity. Those broad, plank-like arms could support an oversized glass of tangerine Kool-Aid or two, unless the seat was unoccupied and someone chose to sit on the other armrest. Then the chair would, in one fell, flying swoop, relinquish all its glasses of Kool-Aid (no matter what flavour).

I don't know what happened to that chair. It disappeared as abruptly as it appeared. The only concrete evidence of it ever having existed is a photo of my brother, my best friend, her sister and me, all being supported magnanimously by this chair.

I never knew another family in my town to have such a chair. They had light, tubular, aluminum, fold-up jobs—useless for child support.

In North America, I occasionally see a couple of these elegant white garden chairs parading like swans across a vast expanse of emerald green lawn.

No one is ever sitting in them.

No comments: