You can’t deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants. ~ Stephen King
When it comes to family pictures, we rarely look at the “rest” of the photograph – that is, other objects appearing in the background with our smiling faces. But sometimes when my family looks at photographs from our younger days, we’ll comment on a particular piece of furniture, or the wallpaper, or some appliance that brings back memories. Just as unlabeled photos don’t tell the whole story to future photo viewers about who’s who in the picture, those objects in the background often have stories behind them that are not usually told.
One object that appears in our family photos over the last several years is a chair. It looks like a nice chair: leather, wingback, regal-looking. But, if you know the whole story, it’s more than a chair. I’d describe it to my nieces and nephews as The Chair that Almost Killed Your Mother and Me.
My brother originally bought The Chair. When he moved in with his then-fiancée, the chair moved with him. But their condo was rather small, and their new house was in the process of being built. Since I had just purchased a house, lived alone, and owned little furniture, I had some room to spare. Could I hold the chair at my place until the house was ready? It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, it was a nice chair and not ugly, and I had the space.
But what do I know?
My brother is tall, fit, and muscular, but he must have been busy that day, so he sends my future sister-in-law over to my house with the chair. She’s 5’2″. I’m taller, but probably weaker. It was up to us ladies to get the chair settled into its temporary home. Getting in the door wasn’t a problem, but it overwhelmed my living room and the other rooms on the first floor still had unpacked boxes. But then I had an idea. We’ll call this the Critical Error. Where I really wanted the chair was up in the bedroom – we can get it upstairs, right?
In order to adequately describe the events that followed, I have to digress from the story with a description of the layout of my home. The upstairs – a master bedroom, bathroom, hall, and some closets – used to be the attic of the house. The former homeowner renovated and added a stairway in the best place possible, which wasn’t necessarily the most convenient place possible. The stairs are narrow, and there is no banister on the “open” side.
Lacking all sense of reason, my future sister-in-law Alleah and I decide to carry the chair upstairs. I grabbed the top end and backed up the stairs, while Alleah lifted the up the other end from the lower stairs.
This worked well…for about five steps. The chair didn’t fit up the stairs. Let’s ignore the fact that neither Alleah nor I owned or heard about a thing called a “tape measure”. We were stuck.
I tried to maneuver around the stuck chair to help from the bottom end, but in the process I lost my grip. In what would have scored a 10.0 in the Olympic Comedic Stupidity Event, I performed an amazing partially controlled falling leap over the side of the staircase, rolling over and landing on my back in the middle of the living room floor. Even a Russian judge would have given me a high score for that spiral leap. Even though it hurt, I was laughing hysterically.
Meanwhile, back on the stairs…the Killer Chair followed gravity in the proper downward direction. Unfortunately, Alleah was in that direction still trying to hold on to the chair. As I lay laughing, her own laughter at my predicament quickly turned into the realization that the Chair had pinned her to the wall at the bottom of the stairs.
Naturally, as I also realized this, it made me laugh even harder, still laying on the floor. To this day, Alleah remembers that I had a photograph of Pope John Paul II on the stairway that, in her teary-eyed state of laughter, appeared to be staring at her mockingly from the safety of the wall.
Now, this was truly a crucial event in my sister-in-law’s life, for the Chair was attacking her in the region that would become the womb to my three future nieces and nephews.
If we had filmed this event, we’d have more hits on YouTube than Susan Boyle.
Eventually, I was able to move, but it took the strength of both of us to move the chair, and Alleah was still laughing too hard to be of any help to herself.
We swear The Chair did it on purpose in retaliation for being moved.
Well, needless to say, it never made it to my bedroom. After regaining our composure, the chair was unceremoniously thrown down the stairs into my basement, where it remained until their house was ready for it.
When it had to be moved again, the move was wisely handled by my brother and her father. We had enough of The Chair, with bruises and scars to prove it.
We find it rather ironic that today the kids have another name for The Chair: Daddy’s Prayer Chair, for it is where my brother spends his prayer time. Little do they know the history behind the chair and the other names it has been called by their mother and their aunt.
What untold stories lurk in the background of your photographs?