When my dad passed away almost ten years ago, his children divided up his furniture. I was the recipient of two circa-1969 mustard-colored vinyl chairs and to say they weren't attractive would be a compliment. Since then, they’ve lived in our finished basement, for the most part, out of sight out of mind. In truth, they were a better quality furniture then we’d find today, but the cost to have them reupholstered would have been prohibitive. Over the years, my husband and I talked about getting rid of them, but I couldn’t do it. The last time I saw my grandfather he was sitting in one of those chairs. During one of the last visits I had with my father, he had the other stacked with paperbacks he’d read, and I returned home with John D. McDonald and Elmore Leonard. Those books are still on my shelf.
But still, sometimes you have to broom sweep the fragments from life to start things looking fresh again and when the pile of unused "stuff" we’d been collecting behind the false wall of our basement expanded beyond its assigned pallet, it was time to clear it out. We spent a week hauling things out to the garage, polishing and pricing for a Saturday yard sale. Anything that didn’t sell would become a charitable donation, or go to the dump. Nothing was allowed back into the house.
When my husband mentioned selling the chairs, my stomach dropped. But the night before the sale, I agreed it was time to let them go. Early the next morning, we washed them down, placed them at the bottom of the driveway. We situated a coffee table with a basket of dried flowers on it between them, thinking the chairs would be perfect for a college dorm room, or a graduate apartment. We figured they’d be the first thing to go.
Except they weren’t.
By 11:00, I dropped the prices. At noon, I dropped them again. The coffee table went, but still, no one looked at the chairs. Every time my husband looked down the driveway he said, “I’m not lugging those things down to the basement again.”
The yard sale ended at 1:00. All the while we packed and organized the unsold items for charity, people trickled up our driveway. Most of these late-in-the-gamers made a purchase, but not a one looked at the chairs. I thought about it hard, but even I didn’t want to haul them back downstairs. At 4:00 I carted them street side, marked them “free” and left for the grocery store. There a neighbor found me. “Those chairs at the bottom of your driveway. Can I store them in my garage for my son? He just rented an apartment in the city.”
A half hour later, they were gone. Lesson learned. Sentiment may be priceless, but butt-ugly needs to be free. I picture the chairs, sitting in some bare-bones apartment enjoying their new lease on life.