The chair is pink, or rather the seat of the chair is pink. The rest of it is a cold unforgiving black metal. It’s sitting in front of a table that looks like it was made in a 7th grade woodshop class. That’s not to say the table’s ugly, just that it looks like it was made by an amateur.
The chair has probably supported many butts. What a job, to support butts, support them indiscriminately. A chair must accommodate all weights and body types, fidgety children who do nothing but spill on the upholstery. A chair never complains. Well, actually that’s not true, a chair will groan and creak if too much weight is put on it. And it might protest in the ultimate form: It might break. Have you ever been present when someone has sat in a chair and it’s shattered? It’s hilarious. Its hilarity is directly proportionate to how uncomfortable it makes the user feel. For example, if a joker sits in a chair it’s still a little funny but it’s not that funny. But if the swarthy balding man sits in the chair, the one with the permanent frown, and it breaks it’s much funnier. The look on his face as he tries to salvage his dignity. The bewilderment.
When I was young we had some kitchen chairs. I spent a lot of time in them. They were wooden and all of us, or at least my brother and I, liked to lean back in them so they’d be on two legs. We were constantly reprimanded for this. Nowadays I wouldn’t dream of it. My parents still have the same chairs and when I go to their house and sit in them sometimes I think how I used to lean back. Not too long ago I even did it to see what kind of memories it would evoke. It felt downright irresponsible. I suppose this is what it’s like to become an adult: Something ceases to be fun when you know how destructive it is. Then again, we still do many things that are destructive.
The chair is still sitting there in the cafe where I am. Motionless. I would say it’s listening to the music but everyone knows chairs are deaf. And blind. The only thing they can do is feel, and pretty much the only thing they feel are butts. Despite their mind-boggling utility we still take them for granted. For example I’m sitting in a cafe writing an essay about a chair, and I’ve completely forgotten that I’m sitting in a chair. I haven’t even looked to see what kind it is. If I’m brutally honest, I don’t even care. I will not thank this chair for its service. I will not think about it after I’m gone.
But it won’t think about me, either.
The cup of tea however, is a completely different…cup of tea. I have an actual relationship with this cup of tea. It’s going to go into my body, so I pay more attention to it. I can see it and smell it and taste it. It’s a black tea with orange essence. Its temperature is ideal. I drink it, it goes into my stomach, and our relationship ends. If I haven’t eaten and I have too much of it, it can make me nauseous. But the cup of tea is passive. It is acted upon. It only acts upon its user in proportion to how it’s acted upon. In other words, it’s inanimate. Much like the chair. Except I can’t eat the chair.
Or could I? I’ve heard of people eating things they’re not supposed to eat before. Wasn’t there a guy who used to eat model airplanes and things like that? A guy who was slowly devouring his entire living room, piece of couch fabric by piece of couch fabric?
But back to the chair. The chair is still there and will be there all day. Tonight the shop will close and the chair will still be there. Tomorrow the shop will open and the chair will still be there. Supporting butts gives it no pleasure. It does not miss the butts when they’re gone. It is not disappointed if no one sits in it all day, or if someone sits in the chair opposite it. It doesn’t notice me looking at it. It doesn’t look back.
I suppose I could taste the chair, too.
When I get up to leave the chair still does not acknowledge me. It almost frustrates me. It’s rude. But then I forgive the chair. We both have legs, but only mine can take me outside into the big, wide world.