Are you comfortable right now? Are you sitting down?
Get a load of this, folks- for the first time since 2005, I am sitting in a new desk chair.
Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. Let me reiterate; for almost fifteen years, I used the same chair while drawing or working on the computer. A mesh dealie-bob, on casters, that was built for light duty and not the ass of a surly slob for well over a decade.
I acquired it from an supply store after moving into a laundry loft studio with a girlfriend, when I officially began production of the John’s Arm movie. Its lack of cushions was a benefit, because my office was beneath a tower of huge glass panels veined with hexagonal wire, and often topped 80 degrees. I figured I’d perspire slightly less in a chair that had a breathable back and seat.
I produced the movie sitting in that chair. Every comic strip and book I’ve authored since 2005 was done so in that chair. When the seat finally gave out, I used an old pillow folded in half. After it was hurled at me by an intruder during a home invasion, the chair’s armrest supports broke, so I secured them in place first with duct tape, then with powerful metal pinch-clamps. I kept this set-up for so long that the clamps rusted.
The rubberized coating of the armrests cracked and crumbled, so I wrapped them in electrical tape which stuck to my skin and pulled out what few hairs my arms possess. So I covered that up with black duct tape, against which my flesh would sweat, loosening the adhesive and eventually causing the accumulated layers of tape to slough off. Every so often I would trim this with a new razor blade, which it would promptly ruin.
This has been going on for as long as I can remember. Think about it- everything I do is at a desk. I wake up, go to my desk, start working, then when my back starts to whine, I go out for a walk or run errands. At night, when I become too tired to continue, I go to bed.
Oh- about my back.
Since 2005 I’ve been sitting in a chair with no lumbar support.
Since 2005 I haven’t leaned back.
I’ve been hunching over for almost fifteen years.
Despite this, some part of me hated to see the old chair go, and misses it already. Its worn, fibrous mesh absorbed love and farts for as long as the average dog lives. You can hear its loud creaking in many of my videos, including my DVD commentary, which was honestly the impetus for replacing it. I feared my downstairs neighbors would barge in and slit my throat if I worked late at night, just to silence the incessant creaking emanating from their ceiling. Them or my roommate. It was that loud.
But it was a good chair. A noble seat. It served me well. I have faith that someone will snatch it away from in front of the dumpster, so I won’t have to see it looking abandoned next time I take out the trash. The casters work fine. It can still be ridden around the parking lot for laughs. The right person could rebuild it.*
(*UPDATE 9.26.19: I just saw my old chair, partly repaired, in front of a neighbor’s apartment. It was like seeing an old friend, and I’m confused by the amount of pride it made me feel.)
I found a new chair on Amazon for the price of a few GoBots auctioned on eBay. The shipping was free, and it was delivered before I even had a chance to worry about it. It’s noiseless, has considerable neck and lumbar support, and it’s so comfortable I could fall asleep in it, at my desk. I can comfortably read a book in it, like Jim Goad’s The Bomb Inside My Brain, which is absolutely not the kind of book you can doze off reading. And yet, I nearly did, so comfortable is this new chair.
I can lean back. I don’t even remember the last time I sat at my desk and leaned back, for any purpose. I was just happy to be sitting at a desk and working, inside an actual dwelling. I never gave a thought to the fact that I might be destroying my spinal column. I’m scoliotic anyway; my posture has always been a crapshoot. My dad’s scoliosis was so bad it required surgery which eventually caused his premature death, thanks to the MRSA virus. So I think I can be forgiven for dropping seventy-five bucks on a chair that doesn’t make my right arm go numb.
The bonds we form with inanimate objects are always fascinating to me. I felt sentimental throwing the old chair out. It was one of the last vestiges of the old Pod Studio. Many good memories were fastened to it. I’d even used it as a makeshift dolly to transport boxes while moving. In times when I was alone, it was there, reliably holding up my butt, without complaint.
Safe travels, ol’ throne. May your next occupant be a petite lass with a rose-scented bottom. You’ve more than earned it.