Not every day is a good day to ask my chair a question. There are times when it just doesn’t want to talk and so I have to be patient about getting any response. However, some questions pique the vanity of the chair and they are much more likely to provoke a response.
“I am very curious about your having been able to survive so long and in such good condition? I haven’t seen many sets of chairs do this so well. You have almost all your original glue blocks and corner blocks to the knees. This is extremely rare.”
“Why thank you, I, that is we, have survived so well because we have been cared for and properly looked after. Almost anything that is made well will survive a long time as long as that is true.”
“Except for things with moving parts,” I enjoined.
“That is a limitation without doubt. How many cars I have known that have been cared for but which die nonetheless. Buildings, on the other hand, can last forever. Look at those pyramids.”
“Dryness must help,” I observed.
“Yes, water is the great leveler. It brings with it all kinds of decay and rot that will ultimately bring down the grandest of edifices.”
“But you,” I asked, “why have you, in particular, survived in such a good state?”
“There are three things,” my chair responded. “Great mahogany, and you must know that not all mahoganies are equal, and superb craftsmanship. Throw in the fact that my maker understood well enough to dry the mahogany for seven years before working it and you have an almost unbeatable combination of factors that contribute to longevity.”
“What about the way you have been used?”
“It helps to be used sparingly, but what is more important is that any looseness of the joints should be seen to immediately. I would estimate that I have been sat on at least 45,000 times in my 275 years and I am just as solid now as I was when I was first built. I know some of my siblings have been re-glued, but I have not. Sturdier character, I suppose. But imagine, 45,000 sittings, from wiggly little children who will tip the chair both back and forwards, to lumps who lean against the back splat as they would in an easy chair. That’s a severe strain, I can tell you.”
“I bet. But you have also been bought and sold and transported here and there. Hasn’t that been stressful?”
“Not if you use the right mover. I have always been wrapped in blankets.”
“That’s why you have survived?”
“No, not really, because the third reason why I have survived is due to the passion people have for me, those people that understand just how rare and wonderful I am. I am living history after all and I happen to be beautiful. You don’t get combinations like that very often.”
Vanity notwithstanding, my chair had a good point.