On a cold winter day, several years ago, I bought two unusual wooden chairs at one of my favourite antique markets. I didn’t buy them for my own enjoyment, but as a gift for someone else. A couple that we know was about to celebrate their anniversary. Their life together has been quite successful. Throughout the years, they became more and more alike – in their manners and preferences, and even in their appearance. When I saw those chairs, I realized that I had found a perfect gift. The two were practically identical. The only difference was in the etching on the backs of the chairs – one had the shape of the sun, and the other of the moon. Our friends, for all their resemblance, were just like the moon and the sun as far as their overall perception of life.
When the chairs were brought to our apartment, I couldn’t stop gazing at them. The decorative elements were so intricate, clearly fashioned by an experienced craftsman; they covered the arms and legs of the chairs. The design was so enchanting. I couldn’t help but wonder, who would possibly wish to sell such things?
In the middle of the night, I was awakened by a strange and persistent sound. It seemed as though someone was scratching or gnawing nearby. Following a brief investigation of these spooky circumstances, it turned out that the source of the sound were the chairs. The chairs had noises. There was some strange activity going on inside them. My overactive imagination even conjured the sound of snorting and a familiar melody being hummed.
The next day, a specialist counseled us to leave the chairs outside in the freezing weather. There they stood for the whole day. The frost was quite brutal that time. I was filled with hope that I might be able to deliver these gifts yet – but without the wood-munching insects that dwelled within.
When the chairs returned into the apartment, the bugs showed no signs of life for a whole other day. And then they rose from the dead and resumed their activity.
The specialist said “These are some good chairs. The bugs know their stuff – they love some fine quality wood. They’re not going to eat furniture from Ikea. I suggest that you burn these chairs, so that nobody else brings them to their house.”
What a comfort. Thank you very much for that.
For the longest time after that incident, I was haunted by existential questions. Just think – somebody created this marvelous work of art. And then, some little bug, who could just as well eat something less valuable and not even know the difference, went ahead and ruined the magic.
I really enjoy chairs and tables. Especially the ones that have a happy history. I think they should be used for a long time, and used lovingly. Old chairs and tables know so much, and they can even tell if you know how to ask.