Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Chair today, gone tomorrow

For weeks now, my wife and I have been on a fruitless search for dining chairs. I say this because the search has indeed gone on for weeks, and no, there has been no fruit.

I wouldn’t care about finding new dining chairs, except the ones we have are so broken and re-repaired that even if no one else ever notices, they reflect poorly on my self image.

  • Most of the spindles in the backs, which are intended to form a webbing that gently supports you, have broken over the years; once, I went to a hobby shop, found the same diameter, carefully painted them the same shade of hunter green, and inserted the new ones. This was not not-time-consuming.
  • More recently, the one-piece sides that serve as an overall frame as well as leg, pull apart from the seat back, despite my constant re-glueing on this attachment. This is happening on all four of them. Now, whenever I get up from one of these chairs, or even just walk by, I’m manually slamming these pieces together.
  • Lately, whole big pieces of the wood are cracking, which also occasions glueing and touching up with paint.

My thought about all this: I never intended chair repair to be another hobby. I mean, I still haven’t read the thousands of comic books I bought in the past year!

I should also note that the space in which our dining table fits is small, so it would be difficult to find another table that fits so well. The odds of finding a set that would work strains credulity.

So I’ve been on a hunt for new chairs. The complication: My wife has an (understandable) attachment to the dining table that came with these chairs, 25 years ago. That’s because she and our elder son personally restored it about 10 years ago, stripping and sanding it, and then staining it. I too admire its handcrafted polish. But I also want to sit on chairs that a) don’t embarrass me, and b) don’t hurt my aging ass.

This is why we’ve gone to, in my mind, countless furniture stores over recent weeks. “Countless,” to an impatient person who doesn’t exactly thrill to furniture shopping to begin with, amounts to four. One in Glendale (she wasn’t impressed); some sort of discount showroom in our own town that didn’t impress either of us; the loathed furniture store in town that promises much but delivers it late and assembled wrong; and Macy’s.

Why Macy’s? Macy’s because they sent us a book filled with furniture we could go buy — but then when we went to buy it, they had none of it. They did have one chair in stock that came close to matching what’s now our ancestral handcrafted table, but only the one. When I asked the furniture-department woman how long it would take to get those others ordered in, we had this exchange:

“How long would it take to get three more of these in?”

“Some time in August.”

“August?!?!?” I said. “I could be dead by August!” (Which, when you think about it, is rationally true. Would just waiting around for chairs to arrive be enough to keep me alive?)

She decided to hint at scarcity of supplies, which I’ve been reading about. “Sir, have you been in a market?”

“I have been in a market!” I thundered. “I’m in a market right now, aren’t I?”

My wife, accustomed to 37 years of my demands (which often work, to her chagrin), said nothing. Rather than wait for August, which may as well be the end of time, we went and had dinner.

And that’s the hidden cost to chair shopping: Not only do you not buy chairs, you buy dinner instead, which can cost more than the chairs. We wound up at a nearby sushi place — and here’s a free tip: at first blush, sushi places seem inexpensive, but don’t be fooled, because it all adds up quickly! So this particular time I came up with a clever solution to the costs of paying for dinner: insisting that my wife buy dinner. I was congratulating myself on my cleverness right up to the point when she pulled out the debit card for our joint checking account.

As we enjoyed our sushi — so fresh! and not on my dime, she having now gamely pulled out her own payment vehicle — my mind was rolling through all the coming weeks of chair shopping. When might it end? We’re having a new fence built, and the house painted, and a new oven installed, and converting one of our many rooms into a home library — where in all that would chair shopping fit? How would I ever write another play, with all this going on? There must be a perfect set of chairs for us out there somewhere — but how to find them in this lifetime?

Then, to the rescue, this morning, I got an email from a company offering chairs — dear God, how did they know? And why didn’t they know sooner? — and I looked through their website and found chairs that seem to match the sacred table! I flagged the page in my browser, showed it to my wife and, blessing of blessings, she agreed!

So I bought them. They’ll be arriving on June 9th.

I fully intend to live that long.

3 Responses to “Chair today, gone tomorrow”

  1. Richie Rich Says:

    If they hadn’t arrived, you could have written a play about that. The obvious title would be WAITING FOR CHAIRS.

  2. Dan Says:

    Keep us updated. I enjoy looking in the 2nd-hand and used furniture shops, probably for the same reasons I love used book stores.

  3. Paul Says:

    Its important to have chairs you like. Taking the time now to select a proper seat will save you pain when seating on the chairs.

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