11/16/08

Things

Well, when my last post had a number of people "admitting" to sometimes "indulging", I have to just come right out and say that I am the last person to pretend that I don't have a love of "things". Maybe not always the same types of "things" that other people find worth in...but yes, I am most certainly guilty of coveting "things".
And, though like most of us in the middle range of income here in the US, I have cut back pretty severely on spending over the past few months, I can't even claim to have gone cold turkey.

...let me tell you a little story. A story about a chair. Yes, you may have cannily guessed that I'm talking about the chair pictured above. I am guilty of coveting this chair, and I have been for quite some time now. I have coveted it for so long that really I should give it a name (but I've always found it a bit twee to give proper names to objects) or call it "she" like a ship's captain would his beloved ship (though, as a modern woman, I probably ought to call it "he", just for the sake of balance).

Now, this is not the first chair I've coveted. In fact, I have a long history of coveting chairs. The one thing that holds the record for being coveted by me for the longest period of time, no contest, is a chair: specifically, the Le Corbusier "Relaxing Machine"...a chair with which my very stylish grandparents saw fit to decorate their library when they renovated the Chateau de Brissac in the mid-sixties. My grandfather was an engineer, and so very rightly admired the design of that celebrated chair (it's more of a chaise longue, really, if a very modern one) and my grandmother was one of the best interior decorators I ever knew, though not professionally, only in her own homes. No frothy dress, no pair of elegant shoes, no objet d'art has ever captured my fancy or set me drooling with envy as did that chair. I have coveted that chair, it would seem, for nearly four decades. It now inhabits the Chateau's music room - as it should. A chair like that deserves a room of that ilk, and would be frankly overwhelmed by the cluttered, overpopulated rooms of the tiny house which my husband and I inhabit.

That chair may have been the precedent, but many chairs have ignited my passion since then. In graduate school at the NYSID, the one thing that made me regret cramming my degree into a single short and intense year was the fact that I didn't have time to take the class on designing chairs...the one class I'd go back and take now if I had the chance. These days, when I visit the Denver art museum, my favorite room (and the one to which I return with glee on every visit) is the chair room. When we moved into our current home, the first one in my adult life that really felt like a permanent "home" to me, I went through a renewed frenzy of chair-coveting, and pored mercilessly over catalogues of replica chairs from the modern era. I knew that we couldn't afford any of the real ones, and in the end I satisfied myself with an inexpensive knock-off of the Bertoia diamond chair (another that my grandparents favored) which I now use as a desk chair, and in which I sit as I type this. I also tore out and framed a very elegant advertisement for modern architectural chairs from an old Life magazine from the '60s. That was the extent of my financial means when it came to famous chairs.

I contented myself that way, at least until I rode my bike past the window of a seedy and smoke-filled antique shop in our neighborhood a year or more ago, and saw the chair you see pictured above. Now, clearly, this is not a chair that qualifies as "modern" in the artistic sense. It harks back to a much more distant era and century. But everything about it - the rococo modeling, the gold leaf, the taut, striped satin upholstery - called out to me. When I first saw it, the price on the large red tag (visible even to me, on my bike, through the ancient and filthy glass of the window) had already been reduced once. Still, it was far out of my budget. I told myself at the time that I would keep watching that grubby window, and that if the price got down to a certain level, I would walk through the sooty green doors and purchase it. One chair. One lovely, ornate, antiquated chair with no real purpose to serve in our utilitarian household.

Well, of course, the price did go down. And down. And down. And still it was not within my justifiable means. I pined and pined...and imagined all the things I could do with that chair (mostly having to do with dressing QQ up in frothy dresses and taking pictures of her sitting on it). But I held strong. No one in this house needed that chair. No one would, most likely, use it as a sitting apparatus. I mean, let's be serious here. Still, I longed for it...even daydreamed about it.
And then one day, it was gone. No longer in the antique shop window between the ancient and dangerous glider sleds and the musty dining room sets. Gone.

I was saddened. I have to admit I mourned it. All my daydreams returned to dust. A month passed, and then two, and I still hadn't got over the loss of that little rococo chair. I even told my husband about the pathetic saga. And then one day, to my utter surprise....it reappeared! Not only was it back in the window (with a new, cut-rate price on the tag), but a hand-written sign on the door read: 30% off all merchandise.

Now, our nation's storefronts are full of "sale" signs right now, and no one should be encouraged by that sight. It is, of course, a sign of profound and grave worldwide financial distress. And yet, the sight that I saw when I drove by that antique store window the other day lit me up light the fourth of July. I could hardly wait for my husband to have a few free moments to watch the QQ while I darted out to spend my few excess pennies on that highly impractical chair....

Well, long story short, that chair now belongs to me. I braved the smoke-saturated interior of that grubby and somewhat frightening shop in order to write out a check in exchange for that one single chair (which, by the way, has one leg a good half-inch shorter than the rest...good thing I know my way around furniture repair!!) I can't even tell you how good it felt to load it, small and insubstantial as it is, into the back of my car and drive it home.

The above picture is the chair itself sitting on our tiny scrap of lawn just minutes after it became mine. The moral of this story? Well, I really wish there was one. The only thing I can tell you is that it inspired me to perform the ugly and long-overdue task of thinning, culling and clearing my tiny studio, in order to clear an entire wall of book-racks just so that I can look at that lovely, delicate, lame-footed chair sitting by itself against a pure white wall.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Now what was I saying about the danger of coveting things?....

6 comments:

Vivian M said...

The chair is lovely, hope it brings you many years of joy and happiness!

MotherMotherOcean said...

I like the chair.

I have been looking around the house- deciding what I can and can't live without. This giant chair in my room, with the fabric sewn in the wrong direction, needs to stay.

Ah, for the love of chairs.

Maia said...

I felt that way about a lamp once...

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

Oh dear Maia... this is not a good sign... I am guilty of coveting a chair and I am not a chair person... there is no reason for this chair... just that I love it and even paid $50 to get it reupholstered... in dark purple velvet... Mike sometimes says "let's get rid of this chair"... no sir, no way... I should take a photo of it so you too can see the coveted chair... hahahaha... I say covet away sister...

lisa said...

And there was no dramatic license in this post-that shop really is scary and full of cigar smoke. I think the owner might be nice enough, but when he offered lbg a cookie, my negative was fierce.
I do remember seeing it in the window, along with the bicycle I was coveting-it's lovely! ~lmc

Yoli said...

Oh that is such a pretty little chair and I can see QQ sitting on it. Please, now that you have it enjoy it. Make sure you take lots of pictures.

I still remember the school chair/desk that you sanded and painted for QQ. That is the item you have that I covet. Complete with dreamy Indian elephant. What more can a dreamer ask for?