All of our different chairs

I have progressed through chairs, stood on chairs, hidden behind chairs, rocked in chairs and been where I wish I had a chair. I have sat in desk/chair combinations, library chairs, office chairs, and on a stump in the woods I was pleased to use as a chair.

I’ve been in seminar chairs, peddled on exercycle chairs, and have lounged in cushy chairs. I have reclined in reclining chairs, sat in old chairs and new chairs and, for a spell, sat in one of those therapeutic chairs that has an on and off switch. I have been in dentists’ chairs, hospital waiting room chairs, and occasionally still sit in a barber’s chair — though with diminishing reason for being there.

My son Matthew played first chair clarinet, my son Jonathan played the piano so avoided a chair by using a bench. So far, I’ve avoided a wheelchair but I’ve been in a teacher’s chair and a witness chair, sat in counsel’s chair, had the perspective of a judge’s chair and though I’ve sat in a juror’s chair, I have never served there.

Sometimes it helps to put yourself in other people’s chairs so as to better appreciate the frame and fabric that supports them but it has been written that one should not covet another’s chair. We need to go out, look about, find our own chairs.

If we need to or wish to we can change chairs or get rid of a chair. If you’re like me, you lug an old chair down to the basement. If you’re like my wife you have me take it out to the curb where someone can pick it up and make it their chair. Not having a chair is to be nowhere.

I still have a couple of my grandmother’s old pressback chairs made from aspen with the back design pressed, not carved, in the wood. These chairs aren’t worth much; still, they are my most precious chairs.

I have found tranquility in a well worn chair drawn up to a kitchen table filled with people I loved. Sitting there consuming pickled bologna, sampling my aunt’s, “Not a prize winner in the lot” dill pickles, seeking relief from them with saltine crackers — crackers that made possible the consumption of yet another pickle — allowing the flavor of contentment to linger.

Want a simple life? Get a simple chair, one that makes you sit up straight. If you have the need, put a cushion on it. Of course, there are high status chairs, low status chairs, big money chairs, and chairs that are for some reason considered sacred. If you don’t want a simple chair you can go get yourself a high backed chair, one that frames your totality, the better to display that from which so much importance flows.

Then there are chairs with names. Okamura Corporation makes “The Leopard,” a chair that doesn’t look so much like a chair as it does a sculpture. But if you treat it like a chair it can sure act like one. Turn to sit in it — it will embrace you as if it knew the contours of your body beforehand. Want to get up, out, and back to doing? It will help you with that as well.

Maybe someday someone will design a chair we can all be comfortable in; accommodative enough to lift us to the task of getting along. One we can pull up to a communal table to enjoy not only pickled bologna, dill pickles, and crackers, but a fusion menu of culinary, cultural, and religious traditions that honor our diversity — as we celebrate the commonality of our origins and the community of our existence.

But, suppose the pickles are from an especially bad batch, the crackers stale? What then?

Open a new jar, adjust the cushions, cut the wax paper on a fresh line of saltines, and put out some of those fusion menu culinary offerings. You may wish to introduce a beverage.

Then, sitting in that chair of yours — listen.

Doug Pugh’s Vignettes runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. He can be reached via email at