the time i almost died thanks to a piece of luxury furniture
I AM EXTREMELY STRONG.
the summer that i was about thirteen or fourteen, my mother decided to buy a la-z-boy for my stepdad, skip, for their anniversary. she did this because my mother loves giving presents and my stepdad loves sitting down.
she needed someone to help transport the chair from the furniture store back to our house. my brother was, at the time, at Sports Camp For Young Boys Who Want To Be Good At Sports And Other Things Too, Like Tying Knots And Spitting, Probably, and skip was obviously out of the question, so her only option was me.
me at 13, a self-portrait:
desperately physically unfit
favorite snack was mozzarella cheese. no garnish. just…… balls of mozzarella cheese
in my “i only listen to blink-182 and my favorite color is linkin park after dark nailpolish,” phase
SO OFF WE WENT.
the chair was in a big furniture warehouse, like a schewels or something. my mother, a woman who never goes into a situation without a to-do list and a plan of action, knew immediately what she wanted.
it was a broad recliner, taupe-ish, with a retractable foot rest. it was the everest of chairs. once you sat in this chair, you were never getting up. you would have to be brought your meals. your loved ones would bid you adieu, sadly, waving from the living room. “we’re going on a family vacation,” they would tell you, and you would say, “there is nothing left for me but the warm embrace of this chair, and death.”
“mollyhall, help us move this,” my mother said.
“us?” i asked. “as in, the three of us? you me and this guy? we are moving this chair?”
i looked at the Everest Chair. i looked at my mother. i looked at skinny mcdimples. i gestured at my own noodle arms, and at skinny mcdimples’ everything.
"uh,” i said, pointedly.
“we can DO IT,” my mother insisted.
“uh,” repeated skinny mcdimples, this time with urgency.
“LISTEN,” said my mother, drawing herself up to her full height of a whopping 5’5", her voice dropping about 6 octaves to decibels typically only heard in whalesong.
“WE CAN LIFT THIS FUCKING CHAIR.
skinny mcdimples and i quickly snapped into action, because nobody wants to mess with a 5’5” hulk woman with a love of leisure seating. my mother lifted the whole front of the Everest Chair, running high on adrenaline and self-righteous fury, while skinny mcdimples and i struggled desperately with the back half, shooting one another frequent, panicked looks.
by the time we got it out to the car, poor skinny mcdimples and i were sweating bullets, hands slipping all over the suede, sending up desperate pleas to the lord jesus to keep the Everest Chair from crushing our bodies the way it had crushed our spirits.
my mother lifted the Everest Chair with one hand and tossed it into the bed of the truck.
"see?” she asked. “i told you. piece of cake.”
“piece of cake,” skinny mcdimples and i agreed, in between bouts of vomiting from exertion and crying.
i think about skinny mcdimples sometimes. how is he doing? is he still working at the furniture store, or did the trauma of the Everest Chair send him into a downward spiral that led to a career 180? did he realize that if he can lift the Everest Chair, he can lift everything? is he a pro wrestler now? did he marry? does he ever think of me, thirteen, chubby as hell, clinging desperately to the back of the Everest Chair and hissing, “i’m gonna die, we’re all gonna die here,” under my breath?
SKINNY MCDIMPLES, WHAT BECAME OF YOU?
we pulled out of the parking lot. i was too physically exhausted to do anything but curl up in the passenger seat and—
thumpthump. thUMP. THUMP.
“what is that? do you hear that knocking?”
IT’S YOUR OWN
we pulled over.
i bet you thought you’d seen the last of me.
the Everest Chair sat rocking in the truck bed, knocking against the back window every time a breeze rolled by.
"you can sit on it to hold it down,” said my mom. she had a wildness in her eyes.
a sweet, jolly-looking old man in a pickup truck not dissimilar to our own pulled into the parking lot where we were throwing down with the Everest Chair. he leaned out of the driver’s window, his santa eyes sparkling. “do you ladies need help?” he asked. “i have some bungees in the back if you need ‘em.”
there it was!!! our chance for salvation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
my mother’s face darkened. her lips went white. she seemed to expand outward, like the size of her rage with this chair and her tragically useless daughter could not be contained by the human body. her voice sound like the way the sky looks just before it dumps so much water on your house that you have to immediately start bailing water out of the windows with buckets when she said—said, not shouted, because her rage had gone far past shouting: “WE DON’T NEED ANY FUCKING HELP.”
we did desperately need help.
“wait,” i whispered fruitlessly as Santa Man drove hastily off. my mother turned back to the Everest Chair. she tossed a tarp over it, and stretched a single bungee across its girth.
one bungee cord and a tarp?
ONE BUNGEE CORD?
AND A TARP!!
“there,” she said. “piece of cake.”
“look, i don’t want to be the one to bring this up,” i said cautiously as we got back into the truck’s cab, the Everest Chair still thumping merrily. we both ignored it so steadily we made the tell-tale heart guy jealous. knocking? what knocking? HAHA, EVERYTHING IS FINE. AFTER ALL, WE USED ONE BUNGEE CORD. AND A TARP.
“bring what up?” my mother asked.
i swallowed. “um….how are we going to get it inside the house?”