Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Chair of Death

I think my distain for garage sales is fairly well documented. Every year around the beginning of July, Kiki the Rocklin Super Realtor holds a community-wide garage sale in our neighborhood, where she convinces three thousand people to sell things on their driveways all on the same morning. That means everyone living in the twenty-block radius is simultaneously held hostage by hordes of terrible drivers unleashing infantry divisions of bargain-savvy shoppers onto our quiet streets, all looking for deals on used pants and decorative felt Elvis paintings.

Since I don’t like explaining to people who may or may not understand me why seventy-five cents isn't too much to pay for a pair of jeans, I don’t usually participate. This year, however, since I am an idiot, I decided to haul some of the bigger items out of my garage that were merely taking up space, with no hope of ever being used. I ended up displaying a table saw, a drill press, and a welder. It was the manliest garage sale ever. You could smell the testosterone in the air. Or maybe that was my sweat from having just dismantled my entire garage to extract a table saw, a drill press, and a welder from under the twenty-five hundred pounds of other stuff I never use either.

Unfortunately, the clientele were not in the market for the more manly, big-ticket items I was selling. I sat in a lawn chair on my driveway for three hours and managed to only sell a box of welding rod that came with the welder. I made ten dollars.

Meanwhile, my wife was out cruising all the other garage sales in the area. Right about the time I made my incredible sale, she pulled back up to the house with a big white rocking chair hanging out of the trunk.

“How much did you pay for that?”

“Ten dollars.”

Great, now I'm back to even. I mentally scanned our entire house and backyard. There is no place to put a large rocking chair.

“Where are you going to put that?”

“On the front porch!”

She said it as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. As if we have had a dire need for seating on our front porch forever, and she couldn't believe I was even asking. As if she was bringing home a new stove and I was asking where it was supposed to go.

Turns out, in her mind, we have had a dire need for front porch seating ever since we moved in. I just didn't know it. Actually, in her mind, I think we have had a dire need for front porch decoration. Now, I realize lots of people sit on their front porches, but we can't. Our porch is about the size of a postage stamp and it faces southwest, so for most of the day, it is hotter than the surface of the sun.

I brought these things up to her. “That's not the point,” she said.

Hmm… So you have purchased a chair that no one will ever sit in?

“I’m planning on painting it brown to match the front door.” (Translation for the unmarried – “I am going to have you paint it brown one day instead of letting you watch the game.”)

“Well, that’s nice, but changing the color of it won’t change the fact that we can’t sit on our porch. For starters, there’s only room for one chair, so it would be kind of creepy for someone to sit there, plus you would burn up into a heap of ashes.”

“I’m going to get a little table and put a potted plant next to it.”

“I hope the plant is fireproof.”

“Shut up.”

I gave up arguing the point and went back to my sale. I decided it was time to abandon hope of selling any more of my manly merchandise, so I closed up shop. After I moved all my giant power tools back into the garage and rearranged the two tons of other crap to its original configuration, I was exhausted. I needed to sit down. Do you know where it never occurred to me to sit down? Our front porch.

Later that day my wife came back from the store with a new cushion for the unusable porch chair.

“What was wrong with the cushion that came with the chair?”

“It was red!” (Same exasperated how-can-you-not-know-the-answer-to-your-inane-question tone.)

“Was that cushion free?”

“Of course not. Why?”

“No reason.” (I am no longer even on this day. Why on earth did I dismantle my garage?!)

I graciously offered to put the new cushion on the chair. I retrieved the old red (obviously wrong) cushion and set it aside. I sat down in the new chair. I rocked back and forth, enjoying the three thousand degree heat radiating off the stucco all around me and soaking in the view of the backside of my porch support column. Let’s just say you brought your flame-retardant space suit with you, and you could actually stand the heat. You could always pull the chair out from behind the big post. If you did that you would have a pretty good view of the Tree of Death and the street. The only problem is you would be blocking the front door and rocking on the doormat. That seems ultimately problematic from an ingress/egress perspective.

Those things, however, aren’t the real problem here. The biggest issue I see with our new front porch decoration is a long-term one. I am afraid we are installing a lethal booby trap. You see, we have black widow spiders around our house, and anything that sits idle outdoors for any length of time is a good candidate for one of their sticky webs. Add in the decorative table and potted plant, and that chair will be a death trap inside of a month.

While The Tree of Death only smells bad, I’m afraid The Chair of Death might actually be able to kill you. Fair warning, folks. If you come over, I would advise against sitting until you get inside. If the venomous spiders don’t get you, the heat stroke might finish you off.

I sure am enjoying the comfort of my new red cushion on my desk chair, though.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2014 Marc Schmatjen

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