All his life, Matt has wanted a reading chair.
Not just any chair. A chair. A chair for reading in, for drinking coffee or whiskey, for talking politics deep into the night. Something solid and low-slung and leather. He's been talking about it for some time, always prefaced by "When we have a little money..."
The Move got us a little money, and for the last year, Matt has been shopping for the chair.
It's a good thing he and I never really dated. We would have found out how the other shops, and become disillusioned, and ended the whole thing right there. My idea of shopping -- from toilet paper to cars, books excepted -- is comparing the first two items I see and then taking the less offensive of the pair. Comparison shopping gives me hives; I find bargain-hunting tiresome.
Matt likes to compare. And then go someplace else and compare some more. And then check online to make sure there isn't something he missed, and then make one more stop just in case the perfect chair is hiding somewhere else. I think he would say I was a good sport about the whole chair-shopping experience.
After sitting in and getting up from so many chairs that my stomach muscles were actually toned, Matt found The One. It was a dark brown leather with matching hassock, from the grande dame of fine furniture, Ethan Allen. We were surprised to find something so solid and boxy at Chippendale Central, but greatly pleased. Matt asked where it was made and the salesman, who obviously knew what he was talking about and understood our concern, told us it was made in the U.S.
Perfect. Matt was elated. He had the chair. It's an amazing thing to achieve a material dream one has harbored for years, as I'm sure I will know when I finally get a rain lamp. For days I would see him smiling to himself, gathering all the catalogs and Web-page printouts to throw away. When the day came for him to drive down to the Cities to get the chair, it felt like the day a ship is launched.
I was at work when he got home and tenderly unwrapped the chair from its plastic. And there on the packing material it read: "MADE IN CHINA."
Disappointed and furious make an unhappy combination. The chair languished in our garage for days, until Matt and I loaded it back in the truck and he took it back. I felt sorry for him (and, it must be said, for myself -- all that comparison shopping! for nothing!).
He told Ethan Allen we'd never shop there again, then went back to the catalogs and the Internet. After two days of looking, he found exactly what he was looking for -- at half the price -- and less than two weeks after picking up the Chair of Betrayal, he took proud possession of the new chair. Which says "Made in USA" at least three times on different parts. When sitting in a nice leather chair, who wants to worry about oppressing someone with their ass?