The weekend after I moved here, I decided to "treat" myself by going out and buying a chair for my living room. I am not a big spender by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, I simply hate parting with anything larger than a $20 bill. But, because I had been such a big brave boy about my cross-country move and was still relatively emotional/crazy about Beau's trip back to Arizona, a little retail therapy was helpfully prescribed.
I saw the chair in an ad for X Furniture in the City Paper, a free weekly here in DC. It was a beautiful, majestic chaise that had "Nintendo Wii chair" written all over it. How wonderful to laze in a fully reclined position whilst tapping out rhythms in Guitar Hero or thwarting demons in Zelda?
It was my first big Metro experience when I went to their showroom, sat in the chair, and bought it.
"It comes in black, beige, red, or ivory," the salesperson told me.
I thought about the color scheme developing in my apartment with its beige carpet, beige walls, and black furniture. I briefly considered red, as all of my accents in the room are red, but then blurted out, "Um, ivory," thinking about the potential contrast, about lightening things up in there.
He ordered the chair. "It'll take a week," he said, and then charged my credit card.
* * *
The next two weeks were a blur of getting situated in my job, going to every single literary event in the metro area, meeting people, rushing home, riding the Metro, running to Target, etc. I was exhausted, but, come Sunday of the second week, I realized I was still missing my chair, noticeable only as my boxes unpacked themselves and went to the dumpster. With Beau gone, there was a big empty place in my heart, but now there was also one in my living room. At least the latter I could fix. Theoretically.
I called X Furniture and explained I was still waiting. "Oh, I see it here," the man told me. "It's on its way to the warehouse now and will be delivered by the end of the week."
"Great!" I said.
* * *
Two weeks later, there was still no chair but the empty places in my heart and my apartment were getting wider and developing their own zip codes.
I called the store again. This is when I was finally starting to get angry. A woman answered. I explained the situation.
She said, "It's sitting in our warehouse." Oh, I thought. "Let's set up a time for delivery." She and I set a time for late last week, in the evening when I'd be sure to be home. I thanked her and, feeling my anger subside, began considering the precise placement of the chair.
* * *
Four days later, I was in my apartment waiting for the chair. Arden had been walked and fed and I was catching up on my Bravo shows. 90 minutes into my delivery appointment, I got a phone call.
"This is X Furniture delivery guy calling," he mumbled, barely coherent. "Can you reschedule please the appointment."
"No," I said. The next day I was traveling for work and besides, I fulfilled my end of the commitment. Uncharacteristically, I said, "You need to come tonight."
An hour later he called and said he was outside, which, with the configuration of my apartment complex, is similar to saying you are "right outside" at LAX or, maybe more appropriately, sitting outside the Smithsonian waiting for me. I walked outside, wandered around, and then finally saw him on the opposite side of the courtyard, lumbering toward me with the chaise slung over his shoulder.
He dropped it on my floor. "Sign," he said, handing me a piece of paper. Then he left.
I pulled off the four layers of wrapping on the chair: An exterior canvas-like wrapper, tied around the edge with string; a thin, white foam insider; a series of packing tape ribbons ringing the entire object; and, finally, several enormous foam rubber pads cradling the chair like the folds of an ear.
And that's when I saw it: my chair in all its glory.
And, it was beige.
Tomorrow: Part II.