This was never part of the plan, but it’s 2020 and here I sit.
I’ve heard it all: “That can’t be comfortable,” “You’ll ruin your back,” “Why the hell are you doing this to yourself,” “It’s a crime against god.” And of course it’s all true. I work eight, nine, sometimes 10 hours a day sitting in this thing. Then I come back late at night to sit even longer while I send emails, play some games, and reflect on my situation.
I used to have other chairs. Each one of them broke. Only this one remains. Now this is my fate.
A quick internet search reveals it to be an oak pressback dining room chair, possibly made by the Amish, or more likely just a knockoff meant to look like it was made by the Amish. Sitting upright, my back pressed up against the wood, it’s not uncomfortable. But most of my time is spent slouched, leaning off to the side, or with my feet up on the desk while I test the limits of gravity and Gorilla Glue.
I didn’t know any of this when I picked it out of a neighbour’s trash back in 2015. “I was hoping someone would take that,” he said, having just come out onto his porch as I’d begun hauling it away. He and his family were purging before moving to a new place. I still remember the red bandana he was wearing at the time, and the glint in his eye as he gave me the thumbs-up. His trash was to become my treasure. Five years later it feels like more of a curse.
The neighbour probably assumed I’d try to eventually fix the chair, which had two loose spindles connecting the back legs. I finally attempted that last weekend after noticing an alarming increase in creaks and cracks. It “worked” for a couple days, though the chair became unlevel as a result, rocking back and forth from one set of legs to the other. The spindles re-loosened and now all is quiet again, except for occasional groans of hard wood as it calls out for me to stop being so miserly and put it out of its misery.
My old sits, a faux-leather adjustable in the style of an Eames lounge chair, was a compromise between comfort and aesthetics that finally broke after three consecutive nights of utterly humiliating my medieval rivals in Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord. The wood backing was a veneer over what I’m fairly certain was balsa wood, which they make those toy aeroplane kits out of. Whatever it was, the chair apparently couldn’t withstand me trying to force it back into a reclining position somewhere close to parallel with the floor as my army once again snatched victory from the claws of defeat. The back did go parallel with the floor, and then never came back up again: the cost of winning.
I keep telling myself I could fix that chair, which now sits out in the garage. Just like I also told myself I could fix the 10-year old white pine IKEA dining-room chair I spent May through July trying not to fall off of as its legs slowly separated from its body. Every week a few more screws and a little more glue bought me a little more time before having to face the inevitable. Then one night after the boys and I went on a three-match winning streak in Rocket League club matches and I fell on my arse during the celebrations over Party Chat. A month later my back is slowly grafting its way onto a new host.
At any one of these junctures it would have made sense to do what any other reasonable person would do and just spend some extra money on an honest-to-god actual gaming chair. But I hesitated, even now as I awkwardly shift my weight in the creaking, hostile, probably-not-Amish chair. There are so many options and so many of them look so ugly. Seriously, what the fuck is this? I also just can’t make up my mind. I want something made out of velvet or linen, a reclining wingback chair on casters. They don’t really make those and the ones that exist are pricey or antiques. I’m not sure why the gamer-chair market consists mostly of brilliant engineering covered in plastic. I can’t be the only one who doesn’t want to bring the esports arena or silicon valley cubicle into their extremely chill home office.
My favourite gaming chair ever was a wooden-glider rocking chair with plush blue cushions from a department store that’s long since gone out of business. If they make one of those that fits at a desk please let me know.