Life Notes: Love Connection
Never underestimate a man and his recliner

When we were married all those years ago, I promised to love and cherish my husband. I continue to do just that. But I don’t recall pledging anything about loving and cherishing an object that has become his appendage.

I refer, darkly, to the recliner he brought with him into our marriage, and plunked down in our first home to my instant horror.

“You’re not putting that in here!” I can remember saying in tones not dulcet, as our first major decorating battle erupted about the ungainly contraption that was to haunt all my days.

The Chair, as I’ve come to think of it both in its concrete reality and as a generic concept, has known several incarnations. The original was replaced only when it began peeling down to bare stuffing.

It was instantly supplanted by an even larger, more cumbersome model, this one black, padded and utterly without grace. That one yielded to an identical replacement when it, too, was reluctantly retired.

Looks, you see, are not the issue between a man and his recliner. There is but one issue: comfort.

The word is repeated again and again, taking on a reverential tone. So there it sits, this hideous black blob, an unlikely throne from which the man of the house reigns… at least over the den TV.

Yes, I do know that manufacturers are coming up with daintier, more design-conscious versions of the recliner, targeting the women’s market – and approval. And not just with what my husband calls “fake” ones that are dressed in velvet skirts and pastel colors.

We’re talking, about totally revamped recliners that are smaller in scale, more streamlined in shape, and specifically designed for the woman who comes home from work bushed, and wants to do some sinking into something reasonably embracing.

One company has named its unmistakable women’s recliner “First Lady.”  It had the good grace to retire the male version, a sturdy model called − what else − “The Presidential.” Romance novel names like “Lydia” and “Daphne” also are being given to these charming Queen Anne and Chippendale-style recliners.

I’m not buying. If I’m going for something straight out of a romance novel, it’ll be a white silk chaise lounge with loads of lacy pillows.

But back to my guy.

He wants his recliner big. He wants it to look and feel as much like his first beloved model as is possible. And as in the case of early Model-T Fords, he prefers it in one color only – an uncompromised black.

The Chair has certain rituals associated with it.

This is where a gentleman heads after the evening meal for a look at the newspapers and, possibly, the state of the world via a TV positioned so that it faces The Chair.

This is the place from which fall football is viewed on a fairly, shall we say, regular basis, and the place from which baseball games are monitored come spring.

And this is where that man “rests.” “I am NOT sleeping,” he will deny in an injured tone. I don’t even bother to respond as he immediately drifts back into total unconsciousness.

This, in short, is the Papa Bear chair. And while it is mine for the taking during daytime hours, I think it sees me coming.

I find that maneuvering my way into this low-slung, odd contraption is a study in klutziness. Retreating from it once its levers have lowered the footrest and backrest is positively, absolutely demeaning.

I have the feeling of being trapped and suffocated when I decide to bond with The Chair, which once refused to release me until a daughter came by and played Lone Ranger.

My husband is so hooked on the recliner that has cradled and pivoted him that I know for sure he’ll never part with it. After all, men have been succumbing to these babies since they were spawned, back in 1927, derived from lawn chairs with padded seats and backrests.

But I still thought I had a glorious “gotcha” moment when I came upon this delicious piece of trivia several years ago: Recliners, or “motion furniture” as the industry has dubbed them, made the hit list of an Internet “Encyclopedia of Bad Taste.”

When I told my husband that, he didn’t flinch. What he did was yawn, push up the footrest on The Chair, and nod off.

It was a powerful statement.

February 2011
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