The Rockwood Files: Style Wars

By Gwen Rockwood, Motherlode mama of 3

There’s one big reason why there are so many old sofas and chairs in American homes. It’s not because consumers don’t like major changes, and it’s not because furniture is so darn expensive – although those factors definitely play a part. It’s mainly because a husband and wife only tend to agree on the same sofa or chair about once every other decade.

Tom and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary in November, and we’re blessed because we agree on lots of things like parenting, religion, politics and even what shows to watch on T.V. But every time we walk into a furniture store and I see him sidle up to the ugliest chair in the joint, I wonder “Who is this man, and why is he trying to make me crazy?”

To be fair, Tom would say I started this style war years ago when we married and merged our furniture. We were about to move to a new city for his new job, and there was one piece of Tom’s furniture I thought should be left off the moving truck. It was a leather burgundy recliner, and it’s what I’d call “style challenged.” It was puffy and tufted in all the wrong places, and it looked wrinkly and old even though it wasn’t.

I convinced Tom it really had to go because it wouldn’t look right with our other furniture. Trying to please his new bride, he reluctantly agreed, and I sold that burgundy beast faster than you can say “classified ad.” But he has never let me forget it, and often he reminisces about just how much he loved that chair, how comfortable it was, how much he misses it – as if I’d ripped him away from a faux-leather Siamese twin.

Now before you start feeling too sorry for him, I did replace the burgundy beast with a more suitable wingback recliner chair that he liked just fine and took many naps in. But last year two of the chair’s springs snapped off and the frame got wobbly. We had it repaired once, but lately it’s making lots of creaks and squeaks even when the kids crawl into it. So we’re back on the market for a new chair.

This time I’ve got nearly ten years of marriage under my belt and I’ve learned a thing or two about what men want. And one thing they want is a chair of their own where they can stretch out and relax and watch T.V. and doze off after they’ve eaten too much pot roast. Typically, these men will not argue about the other furnishings in the house, mostly because they just don’t care that much. But when it comes to THE chair – they care, a lot.

So this time I resolved to let Tom pick out the recliner so he’d be sure to have something he really liked. We walked into a furniture store today, and right away I saw several chairs that might be perfect. They are recliners that don’t look like recliners – a rare, new breed of chairs designed to give men comfort while giving women style at the same time. Tom checked them out and picked one he said was especially comfortable. But just to be sure, he wanted to walk the store to see if anything else caught his eye.

Then, it did.

As if drawn by some kind of bizarre man magnet, his eyes locked on a recliner at the back of the store. It was a big, puffy rocker that looked like a beefier first cousin to the burgundy beast I’d banned so long ago. When Tom sank down into it, his eyes lit up and he said, “Oh, yeah…” The male salesperson pointed out that this particular recliner comes with a remote control massager attached to the chair, probably because this guy knows that the only thing a man loves more than an ugly recliner is an ugly recliner with bells and whistles.

The thing reminded me of the Michelin Man character, with rolls upon rolls of bloated foam padding covered with wrinkly leather. But I didn’t say much because I’d promised to be open-minded. Tom said, “Sit down and try it out, honey.” So I did, and I’ll admit the chair feels fabulous – like a vibrating bed of Twinkies. It’d be great if I could just wear a blindfold every time I walked into the room.

He narrowed it down to two choices today – a nice-looking chair you’d never guess was a recliner and the massive, puffy chair with massager. At this point, it could go either way. Maybe I’ll get lucky. If I don’t and he picks the Michelin Man chair with built-in massager, I’ll just have to bite my lip real hard and remember that I made vows to this man – to love him for better or for worse, even when the “worse” comes to live in my living room.