three chairs

chairyou know those memories that keep you laughing years later? it may not even be your own memory, but maybe just a story you heard from a friend. nonetheless, it’s the type that makes it impossible to dance with the memory without allowing at least one inward chuckle.

i have three stories like this and they all center around chairs. one happened beside me, one in front of me, and one to me. i’m going to try my darndest to avoid the final plea of “you had to be there” and hope instead to successfully transmit the humor using my innate wordiness (don’t mind the length).

beside me: i had a friend named josue. he was one of my nearest and dearest throughout high school and college. josue was the sort of friend that everyone strove to be- he was courteous, considerate, and all sorts of goofy. our ‘wild times’ consisted of bonfires and church-based rock concerts and we managed to make every gathering an adventure. i don’t recall the details of this particular outing, but i know we were at a concert and people were tall. although josue could see over the heads and shoulders of the crowd in front of us, my constant out-of-rhythm hopping indicated to him that i was not so fortunate. in true form, he scrounged out some chairs from a nearby closet and suggested that we both stand on them for a better view. mind you, these were not crushed velvet lay-z-boys, just the typical metal folding chair one would pack tightly into a cramped hallway closet. we stood, we bobbed our heads slightly out of sync, and  were having a jolly time. as we noticed the sea of now-shorter people start to jump and smash into each other (albeit delicately, we were still in a church after all), we joked about the repercussions of joining in from the comfort of our chairs. before i could calculate the impact force of a jumping josue upon the metal folding chair…an instantaneous squeal and boom echoed throughout the room. there was josue, sitting on an absolutely flattened chair. the legs and frame were in utter disarray. after we concluded that his tailbone was not adversely affected in the long-term, we exploded in laughter (and relief; the venue was very understanding and did not charge us for destroying a chair). even though josue is no longer with us here, i hope he knows that one of the top 3 ‘always laugh’ stories is his.

in front of me: my dad likes to dance. don’t mind the severe lack of genes working in our favor, he still jams and jigs. i recall once walking down the hallway and witnessing his infamous knee-slapping hop dance (involving, as you may guess, one-legged hops and synchronized knee slaps). i believe the dance went to the drum beats of a putamaya cd highlighting the sounds of western africa. while that memory alone would have been worthwhile, his next series of hop-slap-hop-hop were unforgettable. as he was jigging and jiving, he was inching his way towards the couch that took up a significant portion of the living room. in one fail swoop, his hop became a backwards tumble and his slaps became a startled yelp as he finished off the number with a surprisingly smooth backwards somersault over the couch. i laughed then and i continue to laugh now anytime it crosses my mind. i love my dad and i’ve inherited many things from him, including our ability to get into our own worlds of dancing beyond all spatial reasoning.

to me: in cape town we used to frequent the local theatre across the street from our apartment. it was (and still is) a wonderfully eclectic place that screens indy films from everywhere about everything. on this particular evening, luis and i were going to view ‘bang bang club‘ (an incredible film). we had arrived a bit late so the house lights were already down. in an effort to not draw attention to our tardiness, we sat near the front, dead center, in two open seats. as i settled in, before my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, i leaned back…and consequently caused a scene for the entire theatre audience (whose eyes had adjusted) to witness. the chair had no back. it was a back-less chair. all the grace i pride myself in having vanished in the instant my legs kicked up and i wildly grabbed the man’s knee behind me before landing in a confused heap near his lap. luis says that he remembers just seeing my legs waving in the air where my head was seconds before. needless to say, we were both afflicted by giggle fits for the better part of the movie despite its non-comical storyline.

and there you have it. spanning over nine years, these three stories will always make me laugh. i hope they at least left you with an amused grin.

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