It occurred to mw few years ago why some old people choose not to sit in big, comfy chairs and couches. You know the kind: you sit and your butt sinks six inches or more into soft, warm comfort. Your knees are close to being higher than your chest, but that’s okay because when you lean back into that chair (or couch) it is so comfortable that if you missed even five minutes of sleep the night before you almost instantly make it up and then some.
Oh yes, we all love those chairs and couches. We can sleep in them all night — screw that bed I’m sleeping on the couch. Well, we can say that for most big comfy chairs and couches, whether they are sinkable soft or enticingly firm. Married women especially will tell you trying to get hubby to go to the bedroom and sleep in bed is like drilling for oil in granite with a soft-tip pencil.
Ladies, if your man is stretched out in a chair or supine on the couch snoring away — leave him be and revel in having the bed to yourself. Ditto for the men. If she enjoys the napping qualities of that chair or couch — let her be.
I love sleeping in my big comfy chair with my feet up on the Ottoman — don’t wake me up, I’ll get annoyed.
But this is why some old people avoid like the plague some big comfy chairs and couches. And it occurred to me at a picnic beside Mission Bay here in San Diego a few years back. If your butt sinks more than a few inches and your knees stretch out too far forward, it’s bloody hell trying to get up and out of that chair or couch. It’s a struggle!
Now you might have laughed at Grammaw or old Uncle Billy, squirming and then eventually rolling off that couch or chair and then plopping onto the floor in complete humiliation, but let me tell you, getting up and out of that chair or couch was a bitch.
This is where the picnic beside Mission Bay comes in. You know those picnic chairs you can buy, fairly cheap, that are made of cloth with aluminum frames that you can fold up and put into tubular bags made of the same fabric and carry slung from your shoulder because they have that strap on the side? I’ve owned a couple of those over the years because they are comfortable as all get out. They’re extremely convenient and now you can get them with two cup holders and some even have high backs and leg rests that fold out so you can stretch out at your picnic and catch a nap — if the other picnickers don’t ruin it by constantly waking you.
At any rate, those chairs have been handy and welcome at many occasions because if you don’t bring your own chair to the beach, you will have to sit on the ground, which is actually pretty nice too.
So one year while attending an annual picnic I sat in my bright green fold-up chair chatting with friends and ate way too much picnic food (cheeseburgers and hot dogs with some “healthy” trimmings). Every time I tried to stand up though it was a horrendous struggle. At one point I moved my chair to be closer to my friends, we’ll call them Leigh and Randy, and without realizing it the chair was situated such that the back was a few inches lower than the front.
For ten minutes I struggled to get out of that chair, huffing and puffing, pushing up with all my might — but to no avail. I couldn’t get my hands directly under my shoulders and I had to pull myself forward, which was nearly impossible with that fold up green chair because my butt was nearly a foot lower than the frame of the chair. Finally, in fear and frustration I asked Randy to help me out of that chair.
“You know why you can’t get out of that chair,” he asked?
No why? He was helping me so I had to listen.
“You’re too fat.”
I knew that! Everybody who knows me knows that!
Ever since that annual picnic I have tried to avoid sitting in those fold-up picnic chairs and big comfy couches and chairs.
So, when viewing at old photos on Facebook it occurred to me, when looking at our parental generation in them, many of the old people in those photos — our parents, aunts and uncles — most of them were sitting in nice wooden or metal folding chairs, their paper plates full of picnic or party food, resting in the laps, supported by at least one of their hands. They weren’t sitting in the big comfy chairs or couches.
It’s embarrassing to fall asleep at a family gathering. We don’t paint mustaches or other funny designs on Grammaw’s face when she falls asleep at the annual family Christmas party, but we do chuckle a bit at her hilarious snoring and other noises she makes.
And old people fart a lot when they sleep, especially if they had way too much potato salad. Laugh, but you know it’s true, especially if you ever sat next to old Uncle Billy on the couch as he snored away after the family Thanksgiving dinner.
It’s embarrassing to wake up and realize you’ve just entertained a room full of people just by tooting the “Star-Spangled Banner” through your snores. Although some people left because your farts were not only audible and musical, they were deadly. The family members who chose to stay in that room were chuckling and laughing because really, it’s funny.
The other reason the old people in the photographs were sitting in those hard chairs, or maybe they were the high class folding chairs that had a bit of cushion on the seats and backs, the old people found the couches and easy chairs way too difficult to get out of, especially if we … I mean they … had to get somewhere in a hurry — like the nearest commode. Whatever is in the bladder and colon wants to get out and at a certain age, which varies from old person-to-old person, the contents of those bladders and colons wants out now. Not in a few minutes, definitely can’t wait ’til we get home — NOW!
So older people need chairs or couches that are easy to get off of, not hard to get out of, because they have certain biological needs. And let me just say this: don’t even suggest to Grammaw or old Uncle Billy they should start wearing Depends or other adult diapers. You keep that shit to yourself, you young punk mother—. Because you know if I was 25 years younger I’d kick your ass up and down the street; who knows, I might still be able to … Just saying.
Anyway, that’s why some old people prefer hard chairs that keep their knees lower than their belts (if they can see their belts) and their equilibrium closer to their knees. If we… err, they … can find a couple of those kinds of chairs with armrests and cup holders, all the better. Which is why, when you entertain family and friends that might include old people, buy a few of those folding chairs. The old people will appreciate it.
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Two final thoughts: 1) Go ahead and laugh at Grammaw and old Uncle Billy, but remember this: one day you will be old too.
2) I have no resentment against my friends Randy and Leigh. If they’re bringing the cake to an event, we score. They get the best cakes from a Mexican bakery close to their house. So I have nothing but nice things to say about Leigh and Randy …
All photos by Tim Forkes
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality.