The list of reasons why I would strike a student are limited, which is good if I want to keep my job. I don’t often find myself entertaining the idea of hitting one of my students, and I plan on keeping it that way. Sure, I’ll say mean things about them to anyone that’ll listen. I’ll even scowl at them masterfully if they really jive my turkeys. But scowling and talking trash is about the extent of my cruelty when it comes to my work. However, I would absolutely, unashamedly use a specially designed ultra-aerodynamic tennis racket to smack the smug off any kid’s face if they happened to do one very specific thing. If a student–and not just one of mine–takes the best chair on campus, then I’m coming for them with fire and tennis racket.
It lives in the Geology building, an arcane place smelling of dust and old paint. If there were bathrooms on Mars, that is what the Geology building would smell like. There is a hidden corner of this building, a nook that nobody tends to notice though it is right next to the front doors. It’s hidden in plain sight, just beneath a window with a pleasant garden outside. A low tree casts just enough shade on the window to keep the entire nook about 5 degrees cooler than the rest of the building. Vending machines live there too. But the tree, the window, the food, those are not the reason for seeking out this tranquil pocket of the world. It’s the chair.
I wish I could have seen the cow its leather is made from. I wish I could have seen the shampoo baths and glacial water in which it must have doused itself. I wish I could have met any of the probably 50 nimble-fingered forest nymphs that must have massaged this creature’s skin to give it such a soft supple texture. The chair is a tactile symphony of soft leather. It is a light tan, the color of damp sand or walnut shell.
It is old, my chair. Some chairs are fresh out of the factory, untrained and untested, but not the magic chair. It has been worn and weathered and left perfectly shaped by rumps innumerable. When I sit upon this leather throne, I sit in a crowd of thousands who have experienced it across time. When you sit in the chair, you give some of yourself to it so that the heir to the chair will have an experience even more serene than yours. Parents always say they want to leave the world better than they found it for the sake of their kids. That is how I feel about this chair: when my rear leaves this chair, it will be better for the next sitter.
I am not a peaceful person. Sometimes, it feels like there are bugs in my head, each with an idea of their own, and all of them demand attention and care. I am anxious and grumpy and unpleasant, and I’ve spent more time practicing my frown than I have genuinely smiling. All that changes in the chair. The chair lifts spirits even as it cradles butts, and there is no comparable experience or comparable seat.
I feel a connection to the chair, a kinship. We belong together. I come to it to work, to lend my weight to its springs, to keep it fresh and pliant. In return, it keeps me safe. It cradles me in its ethereal pocket of the Geology building, a niche out of time. For this connection, and for this chair, I would without a single doubt in any deep crevasse of my mind, smack the relentless nonsense out of any who dared take this chair from me. And then I would sit down, and I would feel amazing.