Creaky Chairs and Those that Love Them (Daily Post Challenge)

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Creaky Chairs and Those that Love Them (Daily Post Challenge)

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” -Epictetus

Asking a person about their favorite possession can be tricky.  My first notion was to answer, “My cat”.  However, there are some, including my cat, who would state that a cat is a roommate, not a possession.  I don’t own her, especially since she was free.  (Mylar would also state that she is no one’s “thing”.  She is her own creature with plenty of attitude to show off.)  So I must share an anecdote about my favorite possession, one which Mylar happens to approve of.

Not my chair, but you get the idea.
From Wikipedia.

I once made a point of mentioning that I wanted my Dad’s rocking chair.  There are plenty of grand things in my parent’s house, but all I really cared about were the grandfather clock and rocking chair.  I like wood furniture.  Give me a bookshelf that I can hammer back together over a rusting metal rack any day.  However, waiting for my father to pass on is both morbid and requires more patience than I have in me.  So I went out and got my own dang rocking chair.

There is a furniture shop a few miles from where I live and they specialize in wood furniture.  That fact alone makes it my kind of place.  I stepped into the glass door and right near the front entry was a nice collection of rocking chairs all lined up like The Rockettes.  I was a happy camper.

Now, even as a young college student, I knew enough to respect the classic rocking chair.  I have no use for gliding chairs.  Chairs should sway back and forth soothingly on two long and curved slats of wood.  A rocking chair should not pivot to and fro on a parallelogram assembly.  Two horizontal pieces and two vertical pieces attached by metal screws constantly creating and changing angles as the wood yields weekly?  No.  That is not a rocking chair.  That is some cute little chair for tea parties.  I need solid wood construction.  I don’t want some pithy little twigs that are going to snap if they get bumped the wrong way and throw off the entire functionality of the chair.  Give me a classic rocking chair or nothing at all.

I’m a writer, not artist. Clearly.

I admit that I may be biased.  I was raised with a rocking horse that was really just one big runner with a flat seat and the wooden head of a horse attached.  In some morbidly macabre act of practicality, the handle for children to hold on to was not a piece of rope, but a pole crammed straight through the horse’s head.  “Hey kids, let’s all take a ride with Phineas Gage!”  Regardless, the seated see-sawing motion on this generations-old toy got me hooked on rocking chairs from an early age.

The salesman at the store was quite helpful.  I’m not sure what he thought of a guy in his early twenties buying a rocking chair, but he helped me find a simple one that I could afford and even carried it out to the car with me.  That’s when his skepticism began.

“How were you planning to get this home?”

“Oh, I’ll just put it in the back seat.”  I hadn’t actually thought the whole process through.  I somehow assumed that a four-foot tall piece of furniture with ski-like runners and no disassembly allowed would magically fit into my compact Dodge Neon’s rear area.  I knew it wouldn’t fit in the trunk, so it had to situate itself in the back.  What could possibly go wrong?

“I don’t know about this”, the man said as he turned it on its face and pushed.

I locked the front car seats as far forward as they would go.  The actual seat and back had plenty of room around it, but those runners that I cherished were troublesome.  Somehow, someway, the chair was the exact length of the back of my car, and the runners just barely fit inside the frame.  Okay, so the car window was pushed out a little bit.  It didn’t break, so I was content.

“That is the first time I have ever seen a chair like this fit in anything but a truck.”  I’m always glad to happily surprise seasoned salesmen.

That chair and I have bonded.  There is a blue scrape on its armrest from when I moved from one apartment to the next and my dresser got a little too frisky with its advances in the back of the truck.  I could try to scrape off the paint or cover up the abrasion, but why not let the chair have its war wound?  My cat has tried to show her affection for the piece of furniture by sharpening her claws on the lower pieces.  Happily, the finish is so slippery that she can’t get a good grip.  Her paws, much to her annoyance and my delight, just slide right off without leaving a mark.

I make it up to her though.  Whenever I am having my quiet time in the rocking chair, Mylar gets to hop up on my lap.  Together we enjoy the guaranteed world of calm.  She gets to have her ears and back scratched.  I get to blissfully rock back and forth.  Sometimes I let my head lean back on the highest point of the frame that is in the perfect position to rest comfortably on.  Other times I sit up straight and put my free arm on the armrest that rises up to meet my sleepy arm at exactly the right height.

If it’s good enough for Twain, it’s good enough for me. (Photo source: here)

No matter how I sit in it, my rocking chair gives off the proper amount of “creak”.  Everyone has heard the sound that should emanate from a well-made rocker.  It should softly and reassuringly greet the user with a “creak-crauk”.  One backward movement provides the “creak”, and forward movement creates the “crauk”.  Like the cousin of a frog, it sings you to a simpler, more peaceful place.  Gliding chairs don’t have that sound, and therefore they are less worthy in my sight.  Then there are the shabby, abused chairs that make nothing but sound.  Every gesture and adjustment in one’s posture creates a symphony of noise.  I can’t handle that.  I may live on the ground floor, but I still have neighbors (and my sanity), to think of.  No, a rocking chair should only make two different sounds; three if you count the sigh of contentment from the user.

Bean bags chairs are great, but hard to get out of.  Recliners, back-massagers; they all have their place.  But for me, when I want to escape the trials and tribulations of the world, nothing is more relaxing than closing my eyes and swooping to and fro in my reliable wooden rocking chair.  That is, except for the one time my cat put her tail under the runner.  (She’s fine; her lesson was learned.  Both possessions have learned to respect the other.)

No Rest for the Weary

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

No Rest for the Weary

Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they find?” –Samuel Johnson

Chester had been hoping for a quiet Saturday afternoon.  He had spent the week helping his wife get ready for the family members that were visiting.  Luann had been very thorough in her cleaning of their humble abode and she had been quite eager to put Chester to work as well.  He had trimmed the hedges, cleaned the gutters, and a new coat of paint had been applied to the guest room, all due to Chester’s willingness to please his wife.  Now that all that effort had been expended, Chester was looking forward to relaxing.

“Grandma!  Grandpa!  There’s something wrong with the oven!”

Chester started to doubt just how peaceful his day would be.  Luann patted her husband’s hand and got up to see what had happened to the casserole.  Chester turned his attention back to his rocking chair.  He realized that an elderly man gliding back and forth in a chair while children ran by his legs was quite the cliché, but it was one he was quite happy to commit to.

Chester had bought the rocking chair fifty years ago and it was evident.  He would never claim to have built it himself, but he had certainly made more than a few repairs to the chair.  Chester had stained the chair several times over the decades, but the patches and cracks in the wood always seemed to show through.  Then there was the infamous missing slat in the right side of the chair.  Countless times Luann had, in her own, non-pushy way, suggested that Chester should try to replace the missing piece of wood.  Chester, being the practical and stubborn character that he was, simply replied that his back didn’t touch that area of the chair and therefore he didn’t need it.  He was content to have the chair the way it was.  He enjoyed listening to the old wood creak and croak as he pushed off gently with his knees.  Trouble would come, friends would take ill, and the roof would spring a new leak; but the rocking chair was always a place where Chester found peace and tranquility in the world.

Chester turned his head slightly to venture a look outside.  He had to admit that it was a good thing the gutters had been emptied because the pouring rain now rushed to fill them.  The grayness of the sky suggested that the deluge would not let up anytime soon.

Chester’s attention was torn from outside as a small person ran up to his feet and tugged at his trouser leg.  Meggie, the youngest of the grandchildren, was carrying a broom.  To be truthful, she was more dragging the lumbering object in her small hands than lifting it.  She looked up at Chester with her big green eyes, her brown hair pulled back in matching ponytails; Meggie was the picture of innocence.  Chester tilted his head to one side, raised his right eyebrow, and leaned forward.  Meggie offered the broom to Chester by thrusting it towards his knees.  Rather confused at the gesture, Chester took it in his left hand.  After he had accepted the item, Meggie resolutely rearranged it in his hand.  She made sure that her grandpa was holding the broom, bristles on top, perpendicular to the floor.

ImageMeggie ran off and left Chester confused.  He was about to set down the broom when his grandson, Charles, walked up to him.  Charles was carrying Luann’s bathrobe, the soft pink cotton filling up his small arms.  Charles was only a little older than his cousin, so he simply asked his grandpa to lean forward.  Chester did and the bathrobe was thrown over the back of the chair.  The shoulders of the robe had flopped onto the top of Chester’s head and Charles scurried to make adjustments.  First he ran to the back of the chair and pulled the robe down off of Chester’s head.  Then he hurried to each side of the chair and tugged until the robe draped evenly across the back of the chair.  Returning to the front of the rocking chair, Charles surveyed his work.  He put his hand to his chin in an unintentionally comical way, and then nodded his approval.  As quickly as he had entered, Charles exited.

Chester wondered if he was going to be allowed to rock quietly in serene bliss today.  The prospects certainly seemed dubious.  As if picking up on the unspoken cue, Madeline, the oldest of the grandchildren, walked up to Chester.

“Put this on your head”, Madeline ordered as she handed her grandpa a shower cap.  Chester looked at the pale blue hat and held it with disdain in his right hand while he started to see the significance of the broom in his left.  Madeline must have sensed his reluctance to oblige to her perfectly reasonable edict and changed tactics.  “Pleeeeeease?”  Unable to resist the pleading that came out as an unintentional whistle through Madeline’s missing front tooth, Chester donned the cap.

“Now what?” Chester asked, his curiosity awoken.

“Now you have to chase us!”  Madeline was soon joined by Charles and Meggie.  All three of them ran to the next room, tied blankets around their necks, and returned with swords made of paper towel rolls in their hands.  “You’re the evil king of the land and we’re three good little princesses and princes!  Chase us!”

Chester’s fear had now been confirmed.  He was not going to have a quiet afternoon spent relaxing in a rocking chair.  He had three excitable and energy-filled children demanding that he rise from his majestic throne and join in their adventure.  There was to be no serenity for Chester that day.

Chester shrugged.  Why not?  Mentally dismissing the idea of being stately and respectable, he leapt towards them.  The rocking chair swung dramatically back and forth from the force of his exit while the three grandchildren screamed in terror and glee.  Chester decided to embrace the silliness and be playful.  Peace and relaxation could have to wait until later.

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