by: Herb Manila
Hanson had been pining over a certain kinda chair for years now. Every traveler and festival-goer needs a good chair to haul around.
He’d outgrown his back-packer tripod seat — it was small and light, but there just wasn’t any back to it. The collapsible chair he acquired from family was pretty comfortable, but the seat sagged too much making the arms impenetrable obstacles for guitar pickin’ while seated. The armless collapsible chair he got afterwards was pretty well used. It made it to the coast several times and to many festivals and campouts; but, he was never fully satisfied with it. All he wanted was one of them old-school folding chairs with that plastic, mesh-like material that overlapped itself like the crust of a cherry pie.
We searched the basements of our parents’ homes and found a few in dingy, cobweb-filled corners and hangin’ off of nails. Excited, we opened ’em up and had a seat only to destroy them under our girth leaving us bereft and deflated.
He came across one of these chairs one year down at Merlefest. His name was Leon and he had backpack straps attached to him for easy transport from one stage to the next. Hanson was elated to meet Leon, and obviously envious. He spoke in-depth to Leon’s owner about how he found Leon, and how he put the straps on, and how comfortable was he to sit in, etc. Awkwardly, Leon’s owner answered his questions the whole time trying to find a way out of the conversation before they finally parted ways.
About a year after meeting Leon and Leon’s owner, Hanson ran into the owner near the coast.
Before any proper greetings, Hanson asks, “How’s Leon?!”
“Not so hot”, the owner replies, “I had to retire him. One more sit for him, and he’d probably bust.”
A coupla years later, he receives a picture message from his old lady on his cell phone. It’s a picture of one of them chairs that she found on the curb on some street in Brooklyn-town. She has a less than favorable habit of picking up garbage from the streets and furnishing her apartment with it; but with this score, Hanson seemed oblivious to fact of the chair’s obvious time spent in the trash.
Unfortunately, this chair did not hold up either.
This brings us to one of our trips through Michigan where we had a day off and were looking forward to spending the day resting and relaxing on the coast of Lake Michigan. We pull into the park area, and the place is packed with vacationing folks and festive demeanors. This was gonna be great!
We pull up to park the car and the first thing we see right in front of us was a slew of retired folks sitting on a slew of these old-school chairs enjoying eachother’s company while facing the water, soaking in the sun, and enjoying the afternoon.
Hanson’s jaw drops and I immediately turn from excited to wary. Hanson’s got that look in his eyes like he hadn’t eaten in days at this point, and he’d take anyone down who might get in his way to feed on a burger.
He mumbles something like, “Oh my god! I gotta get one….I can take ’em on. Maybe all of ’em if need be…”
“What was that, Hanson old boy?”, I say.
“Nothin'”, he lies.
I didn’t feel like dealing with this right then. I’d been crammed in a car with this guy for days eating sandwiches out of gasoline stations not knowing where I was gonna poop next. The last thing I wanted to do was put up with his maniacal ideas.
So I went for a walk.
I was probably gone for an hour or so walkin’ along the water taking in the sights. Making my way to the pier, I walked all the way on out and checked out the light house. My thoughts were clearing up and I was shaking the road out of my bones and feeling quite good and relaxed. I read from my book as I moseyed my way back to the car.
When I get back, the slew of retired folks are gone with their slew of old-school chairs. Well, not all of the chairs. There’s old Hanson sitting in one of the chairs I recognize from the retired folks with his outside glasses on and an eerily content look on his face staring out into the water. He sees me walk up slowly towards him.
“Hey!”, he says.
“What’d you do, man?”, I ask cautiously. “Where’d you get that chair?”
“Some nice lady gave it to me!”, he replies
Murder mysteries run through my imagination. I shake my head and look out towards the water and think to myself, “I wonder how deep this lake really is?” before giving up and having a seat next to ol’ Hanson.
We sit in silence. And then I take a nap.