all of the selves we Have ever been
But, But, Butt...
I thought they were for old people.
More specifically, for grouchy old men.
It was a dad’s chair. Dads became grouchy when other people tried sitting there.
But then I became pregnant with my first child. Anemia, heartburn, and sciatica became the side effects of an average, fist-sized uterus stretching to accommodate a growing 10 pound 2 ounce baby girl. Altogether, it was a recipe for insomnia.
My obstetrician suggested a recliner chair.
But I was only 34. And female. Destined to be a mom, not a dad. The medical science did not compute with the cultural anthropology.
But a pregnant woman needs her rest while she can get it. So it was off to the La-Z-Boy store. We settled on a soft, cloth-covered version of the recliner that came to be known in our home as thebluechair. It was the preferred seat of everyone. If you were ever a guest in our home, you sat there. If you were ever photographed in our home, you were probably sitting in thebluechair. One or both of the children were likely snuggled in beside you. thebluechair was a magnet. Even little children loved thebluechair.
It didn’t hurt that thebluechair was aimed at the TV. This is the arrangement recommended in the set-up guide for all TVs and recliners – they MUST face each other. Your warranties will be voided if you violate this rule. I suggest that if you are having trouble with your TV reception or your comfort that you check your room arrangement BEFORE you contact the retailer.
Television, La-Z-Boys and inertia all grew up together in the 1950s. They have an inextricable bond. If you have things to do, do not, I repeat, DO NOT sit down in a recliner chair. Physics will not be on your side.
I was introduced to the recliner chair in my grandparents’ home and later in the homes of wealthier aunts and uncles. It appeared to be some type of throne. I knew my family had moved up in the world when a recliner chair appeared in our more humble abode.
While it was a grown-up chair, it did serve a child’s imagination. Some days it was a rocket ship. That giant side-lever launched a few of us into space. Other days, in its fully-reclined position with an afghan thrown over it, the chair became a cave. One day, quite unexpectedly, little spelunker-me made a giant discovery. I struck gold! Literally. And I learned something more about physics. The same gravity that glued butts to the seat also forced change out of dad’s pockets and into the mechanical compartment underneath. Ever after, I was happy to volunteer to clean the living room on Saturdays, the day for chores in our family.
Somewhere between striking gold in the cavern of dad’s recliner and purchasing my latest chair, I did some research. Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses liked to spread out on daybeds called “klines.” Later, reclining furniture would be extolled as a health aid. In the La-Z-Boy corporate publication on the history of the recliner, the development of the modern La-Z-Boy in 1928 is described as “a momentous event in relaxation.”
That’s truth-in-advertising. I can confirm that every time a La-Z-Boy has entered my domain, it has been a momentous event in relaxation. My obstetrician may have been old school and studied with Alexander the Great, but he was right about the recliner chair.
It was a sad day in our house when thebluechair finally wore out and went to the curb. Even the children cried, “Oh, no! Not thebluechair!” In our family, the La-Z-Boy is no longer the chair of grouchy old men and laid-back dads. It is the best seat in the house for everyone.
A Big Comfy Couch
Though I am physically less active than usual
as I shelter in place during a long rainy spell, I find myself more exhausted than ever.
I am not ill, just pre-occupied. Many of my friends are telling me they are experiencing the same inertia or lack of motivation. Our minds have an amazing ability to keep working on the unresolved even when we are not aware that the gears are turning. Nothing like a pandemic with no end in sight to keep the machinery humming day and night leaving us spent.
When busy with work, we crave down time. We have long lists of things we will do if we ever get the time. Many things move far ahead onto the “when I retire List.” But here we are, home, with unlimited time on our hands, and we consider ourselves accomplished if we take a shower.
The television and internet call me to check for updates. I could sit like a zombie all day long absorbing the minute details and range of opinions, but that allows my mind NO rest.
Unless I stretch out on the couch.
What is it about a big comfy couch?
If I remain sitting up, I can make it, but the minute I lie down, my change in posture becomes a sort of anesthesia. I quickly feel drugged, my mind hazy. I can’t pull myself out of it. Before I know it, I am waking up from the deepest, most delicious sleep imaginable. Sometimes it is only minutes. Other times, it is hours.
When I was growing up, houses were smaller, about 1100 square feet on average. Families were bigger. Four children or more were common. I remember bargaining and fighting for a spot on the couch. When one of us would be sent to do a chore or get changed into our pajamas, the outcast would yell out, “I claim the couch” as though there were some sort of Homestead Act that allowed the first one to take a seat to claim the property forever. But it was the wild west. Didn’t matter if you had a deed or an ironclad contract. Space on the couch was in demand. The wrangling only worsened as we got taller and took up more space when we stretched out. With smaller houses, there was less furniture, in general, which meant if you didn’t get a seat on the couch, you had to take a spot on the floor.
Over the years I watched family size shrink as the square footage of homes more than doubled. I read that in 2014 new houses were averaging over 2600 square feet of space. I realize now it was not about family size, it was about couch size.
The couch of my youth was totally lame. The contemporary couch has expanded. The sectional is in. And when I say sectional, I am talking about furniture that could take up two blocks of my old suburban neighborhood. No need to stake a claim to some small cushion, there is room for the entire family.
We hear so much about the importance of sleep, and many people I know suffer from insomnia. There is no end to the television commercials for mattresses offering a good night’s rest. There seem to be hundreds of options and combinations from the standard spring mattress to memory foam, adjustable, temperature-controlled, something purple…twin size, extra-long, double, queen, king…
I never hear the experts suggest a couch to cure insomnia but maybe insomnia is only a problem in the bedroom. I can roll around for hours turning the radio on and off, reading books and solving crossword puzzles. But if I stretch out on the couch, I am out. Maybe the experts are in cahoots with the mattress manufacturers. Next time I buy a bed, I will ask for a full disclosure statement.
In the meantime, I may have to rethink my room design options. Why do I have an exercise bike in my bedroom and the most comfortable sleeping furniture in the living room? Maybe it’s that bike keeping me up at night, shaming me for my lack of exercise. A confirmed case of bad karma.
When we were small and sick or injured, we did not stay in our bedrooms with our toys and sports equipment nagging us. The couch was sick bay in our house, a place of comfort and healing. Mom wanted to get work done and still keep a close eye on us. She would turn on cartoons and bring us baby aspirin and cinnamon toast. That was the life! Tucked in on the couch it was impossible to be frightened or worried.
Maybe I will relax judgment of myself and ignore the harassment from that exercise bike. A big comfy couch is a good place to be in a crisis, and I claim it!