I Am Not A Chair
People always used to try to sit on me. I’m sure that sounds amusing to you, or strange, but it’s true. They would walk up to me, paying me little heed but for a cursory glance at my pose. Then, perhaps with some slight adjustments to my position, they would plant themselves down upon me. Sometimes my posture or stance made it impossible to sit on me and they would look at me, puzzled, trying to assess why their attempt to posit themselves had been unsuccessful. They tried to contort me, manipulate me into a more comfortable position, or they gave up and moved on, looking back at me with confused expressions as though the problem was mine.
Occasionally, as I saw the bottoms descending or when they attempted to draw me into themselves, I would be unable to contain my anger and frustration any longer.
‘I’m not a chair!’ I would shout, ‘I’m a man!’
The people would jump and stare at me, bewildered or terrified or both. I suppose they had never seen what they considered a talking seat before. Sometimes they laughed at me and told me that I clearly was a chair and not to be so ridiculous. Sometimes they just ignored me and continued on their mission to plant themselves. More often than not I threw those people off and they would shout at me and sometimes kick me for being such a rubbish chair before sauntering off to find another.
To be honest, most of the time I just used to let them sit on me. It was annoying and somewhat demeaning but you can only fight against a perpetual onslaught for so long. Sometimes you just need to pick your battles. They didn’t know any better, I told myself, they didn’t mean any harm, they were just looking for a place to take a load off, read a book or send a text.
It had been like that for as long as I can remember, ever since I was at school and the other children used to sit on me and tuck me under the desk at break-time. I was always mistaken for the penultimate seat in musical chairs. Even on the few occasions that I won that game, the teacher just thought the remainder was two chairs stacked on top of one another and declared those games a draw. On one particularly traumatising afternoon I was locked inside the school after closing time, left stacked on top of one of the little tables beside what were apparently my plastic doppelgängers. That was a confusing age. There were times they almost had me believing I actually was a chair back then.
It was during my teenage years that I began to shun other people’s conception of me as an inanimate object. I became agitated and depressed at the thought of having people sit on me. I would spend days locked in my room, not wanting to leave for fear that some confused student would mistake me for a spare seat next to his friend. I was never picked for the football matches at break-time, never passed to during rugby matches in PE. What would have been the point? Chairs can’t catch.
My breaking point came one evening after a long day of being ignored by teachers and mocked by students for my protestations. I had been sat on by at least four different people that day and thrown off the bus for taking up space. When I arrived home I went to my parents weeping, distraught.
‘What’s wrong?’ my mother had asked.
‘Everyone thinks I’m a chair, but I’m not mum, I’m a boy.’
A look of compassionate kindness passed over her face and she rested her hand on my back.
‘Oh, sweetheart,’ she said, ‘there’s nothing wrong with being a chair. There are lots of famous chairs; the royal throne, the speaker’s chair at parliament, that egg-shaped chair. You could do a lot worse than being a chair, darling.’
That was the last time I broached the subject with either of my parents.
I had no idea why people saw me that way. I’m clearly a man. I live and breath and talk and walk. I feel things, real things just like you do. I know I have blood because I have seen it. That’s why I cannot hate the people who mistake me for something I’m not; I’m just as confused as them. None of it makes any sense and yet it affects every aspect of my life. I can’t get a job, who wants to hire a chair for a salary when you can buy one outright? No girls are interested in me, apart from really weird ones (I know I shouldn’t judge but they’re only into me because they think they’re going out with a chair and come on, that’s pretty weird).
I searched for so long for the possible causes of everyone’s delusion. Eventually I went to a doctor, a surgeon, in the hopes that he could give me some answers. He gave me a thorough examination, front and back, up and down, inside and out. When I was called back for the results, he paused for a long time, head bowed deep in thought. Eventually, after much consideration, he told me that perhaps it was my legs that were throwing people off. Of course! My legs. Chairs have legs, I have legs, I thought. It was all so clear. I begged the doctor to do something about it and he told me he could help, but that it would be a long process.
For the next year I had to strap my legs up and acclimatise myself to life without them. It wasn’t so bad. Sure, people gave me strange looks, some even tried to unfold me thinking my legs were retractable, but no one sat on me for the whole year. It was glorious!
I went back to the doctor after the year was up and told him of my results. He said he was happy to perform the surgery for me and, in light of my inability to work, the government agreed to pay for the whole procedure.
So I went under the knife. My legs were removed up as far as the doctor physically could without risking any damage to my upper parts. In all the surgery took only four hours. The rehabilitation process was considerably longer and far more painful.
In the weeks following the surgery I questioned whether I had made the right decision. I would wake up in fits of panic, still feeling my legs twitching beneath me, the past echoing through my body. They were phantoms torturing me for what I had done to them, forcing me to face the gravity of my irreversible decision. I would stare at my stumps, aghast, and curse myself for what I had done to myself. I would never again walk or jump or run. But it would all be worth it, I thought, finally I could be the man I was born to be.
The first day I went out without my legs will always remain embossed into the backs of my eyes. I was terrified, but it had to come sooner or later, so I ventured forth, out of the house and onto the streets. People stared at me as I moved through them. They still looked confused, bewildered as to what was in front of them. My heart was in my throat as I went past them, fragile excitement building that no one had tried to sit on me yet.
Through the perplexed faces, a little girl approached clutching her mothers hand. She inspected me for a while and a sweet smile spread across her beautiful face. She turned from me and looked up to her mother, golden hair curling in her wake.
‘What’s wrong with that chair, mummy?’
‘It’s broken, darling. Look, it has no legs.’