Saturday, December 18, 2010


Some years ago, my godmother Wanda gave me and Nancy a pair of antique chairs she had no further use for.  (That was always her rationale for gift-giving; her high-school graduation present to Danielle was a used Rolex that was appraised at $400 and cost $500 to recondition.)

These chairs, spindly and often mended, were never my favorite pieces of furniture, but we needed them in our NY apartment, so that's where they ended up -- until last night.  Our friend Michael Rosenthal (pictured above) came to dinner, to cheer up Nancy (who was on crutches due to a bunionectomy she had just endured) and me (who had just lost 12 straight games of squash to him).  We were eating Chinese takeout.  I was sitting in one of Wanda's Chairs.  I leaned back slightly and with a startling report, the horizontal strut across the back splintered and dropped to the floor.

I couldn't meet Nancy's gaze for some time, though Michael's laughter was clearly audible.  But instead of justifiably reproaching my famous clumsiness, Nancy laughed too.  "Oh, well," she said.  "I never loved that chair."

Twenty minutes later, Nancy labored to her feet and seized her crutches.  For the first time, they failed her; she toppled backward.  Michael sprang catlike to his feet, caught her, and they both sat heavily on Wanda's Other Chair.  Crack!  The whole back snapped off.  Michael was aghast, but we reassured him:  what good was one chair of a matched set?  And anyway, he was clearly the agent of fate.  I shlepped the remains of both to the basement, leaving the staff to deal with them, and somehow, it felt as if a burden had been lifted from us.

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