It’s gone! At long last the rocking chair from hell has left not only the building, but also the garage, and, finally, the back yard. I’ve so looked forward to this day, yet now that it has finally come—and the rocking chair from hell has gone—I’m feeling strangely empty inside, much as I did the day I dropped my son off at college, or the time I put my old cat Bonkers down.
Perhaps I should shed a tear. Something has gone out of my life, never to return. No matter that we never sat in it, that rocking chair was the oldest piece of furniture we owned. It was a fixture in Annie’s apartment the day I came courting in the spring of 1969. She had bought it at a Houston secondhand shop a couple of years earlier, and somehow had managed to transport it to Austin–I presume by Sikorsky helicopter.
See, the big problem was that the damn thing wouldn’t fit into a car trunk, nor into a back seat. Not that it was so big; it was just unwieldy. Its curvilinear shape didn’t conform to any available space, although we did once manage to squeeze it into my Volkswagen kombi for the trip north to Utah. It took up all the space normally occupied by the fold-out bed, which meant that Annie had to sleep crosswise on the rear bench seat, while I “stretched out” crosswise in the cab, underneath the dashboard, my face jammed against the clutch pedal. It was the longest, most arduous trip ever, and once we arrived at our new apartment it became instantly clear that the antique rocking chair clashed with the paisley curtains, the Jimi Hendrix poster on the wall and the mattress on the floor.
At the time, we were hippies, determined to break away from restraints and conventions of the established order. Which was hard to do when the only chair in the house was clearly designed with Whistler’s mother in mind. Soon as we got a few dollars ahead, we invested in a bean bag chair and a wicker settee from Pier One. If anyone in our household ever sat in that rocker afterward, I just don’t remember.
Fast forward forty years. We are now of an age when sitting around in rocking chairs would not be inappropriate. Alas, by this time Annie’s rocking chair was not be safe to sit in, the webbing having rotted away as a result of several hard winters spent in the out-of-doors. From time to time she has announced her intention to refurbish it, but such intentions never got beyond the planning stage. And now they never will, because this morning I dropped the chair off at the local thrift store, and from now on it’ll be someone else’s problem.
First to congratulate me was Charlie, who currently pays $225 rent per month on a locker to store furniture from his wife’s condo.
“I figure it’s cost me ten thousand dollars to store stuff worth no more than five hundred dollars,” he laments.
Sounds crazy, but then Charlie has no choice. He and Nancy are relative newlyweds, and at this point in time he can’t afford to jeopardize the relationship by jettisoning his bride’s cherished belongings. Forty years from now and maybe another forty thousand out of pocket, I’m confident he will come to understand, as I have come to understand, that a happy marriage demands sacrifice. Specifically, sacrifice of things your wife holds dear but you do not.