Saturday, August 26, 2023

My Life as a Chair


I'm a club chair and I’ve lived a very long life. I have the cracks in my leather to prove it.  My early years are a mystery, but I do know that I found my way from California to an antique furniture store in New York City back in the early nineties.

Stephan Elliot, the Australian director of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert discovered me and brought me home to his Astor Place loft where he lived with his screenwriting partner. The two of them were riding high on success, Hollywood and youth. Well, they didn't know they had youth, they were pushing forty and they were sure they were old. Ancient, in fact.

When you're a leather chair, you know what "ancient" is, but you can't tell the people who are sitting on you that they're young. You can't tell them to be happy. These guys--they tried to be happy. They threw lots of parties in the loft, and the director bought tiaras with pink feathers and insisted everyone wear them and drink and act happy. People sat on me a lot because I was placed by the enormous window overlooking Astor Place, along with another club chair. But she was not genuine leather. She was made of Naugahyde. And ultimately Miss Naugahyde-not-real-leather left to live with some college student.

When the director and the screenwriter parted ways, I was sent to live in a home in Connecticut with the screenwriter's friend. She had a daughter and taught creative writing and would often sit on me, cross-legged, yoga-style, reading her student's stories. I absorbed those stories. Thousands of them. They lived within me and became a part of me. 

In 2015, I moved to Upstate New York to live on a farm with the writing teacher and her husband. He liked to cook a lot and was nice enough, but truth be told, he never really liked me. I think it was because I represented her old life, her Hollywood days, her unfathomable past. Then, one day, she drove to Warren Street in Hudson where she was seduced by a pretty blue sofa sitting in the window of a store. The owner of the store was skinny and scrappy and he said he used to be in a rock band and he traveled a lot and he was cool and talked to the writing teacher in a language she understood. Mid Century. Swedish Modern. Abba. She was smitten.

And so, I was removed from the living room and sent to the TV Room, and later, to a neglected corner of the dining room, where I could not see, but I could hear the blue sofa and her matching chairs in the living room--laughing, pretty in blue, curvy and sexy and modern.

I have never been particularly modern. I do believe I'm what is known as classic. I'm masculine. Substantial. Dependable.

Yesterday, the writing teacher donated me to Hudson ReStore, a place where proceeds from sales go to support Habitat for Humanity.

Did I mention I'm writing the story of my life? All those stories the writing teacher read while sitting on me have become a part of my story, The Life of a Chair.

Creative friends--Your creative assignment for this week is to consider the secrets your chair keeps.

Oh, and have fun.



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