Before I begin this story, I’d like to state that all names and places have been changed (at the request of my attorney) to imaginary and unsuspecting characters. Please note that all surliness represented on my behalf is completely real, and no furniture store employees were injured during the writing of this piece. (Apparently, furniture store employees are incredible athletes, who can run and hide like the Viet Cong when threatened with bodily harm.)
I was minding my own business last week, watching my daily fill of filthy lies and important drug infomercials on the television, when my senses were assaulted by a screaming fat man.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! TODAY ONLY!! GET YOUR BEAUTIFUL, CUSTOM-MADE BEDROOM CHAIR FOR ONLY EIGHTY-NINE DOLLARS – DELIVERED!!! COME TO MIM JILLER FURNITURE STORE IN ARMPIT, OHIO AND GET YOURS!! TODAY ONLY!!”
This huge, sweaty man went on to introduce himself as Mim Jiller himself, and proceeded to have what I can only describe as a grand-mal seizure about the quality and perfection of his gorgeous, eighty-nine dollar bedroom chairs. He wrapped up this entirely disturbing episode by flopping his walrus-like body into a giant, fluffy chaise lounge and grimacing at the camera in a futile attempt at what I suspect was a smile.
My interest was piqued on so many levels that I immediately forgot about the tardive dyskenisa my new medication promised to give me, and got in the car to head for Armpit, Ohio, to buy myself a beautiful eighty-nine dollar bedroom chair. I was also emotionally prepared to assist Mr. Jiller with CPR, if necessary.
Never having been the proud owner of a bedroom chair, I had no idea what to expect. I was hoping for something like the giant chaise lounger that Mr. Jiller had thrown himself into at the end of his commercial, but was excited at the prospect of a chair in the bedroom at all. This was a whole new concept for me – a chair dedicated solely to the bedroom. Crazy.
When I pulled into the drive, the peeling warehouse and empty parking lot should have clued me in, but my fervor was so intense to have a damn bedroom chair, I didn’t even notice the tumbleweeds blowing around the yard. The hand-lettered ‘OPEN’ sign gave me great joy, and I entered the portal to join my new horizons through bedroom chairs.
After my eyes adjusted to the darkness of an entire warehouse lit by one bare bulb in the center of the ceiling, the smell assaulted me with such force as to shake my strong intention to have a bedroom chair and quickly flee the premises. Unfortunately, I had given Jake, the official Bedroom Chair Salesman, time to get between myself and the door.
Jake looked as if he had been sleeping in one of the furniture boxes behind the building. His sharpie-written name tag hung loosely from a wrinkled gray sweatshirt, complete with grease stains and frayed cuffs. Jake apparently had no love for combs or razors and appeared to be wearing bits of the past three or four meals in his tangled beard. I was immediately afraid of Jake and wanted to exit the building with great force. As I moved toward the only visible means of escape, Jake stepped in front of me and stuck his dirty hand out.
“HI THERE! I’M JAKE!! HOW CAN I HELP YOU TODAY?!! DON’T TELL ME – YOU WANT A BEDROOM CHAIR, RIGHT?!”
I was frozen in fear and wondered if Jake was deaf, or if the screaming was some sort of terrorist sales tactic he had learned in Afghanistan. The last thing on earth I wanted to do was touch his hand to shake it, and the thought of a bedroom chair filled me with intense trepidation at this point. I put my hands in my pockets, and began negotiation for extrication from this intense situation.
“Uh, sorry Jake – just got over a cold – don’t shake hands, ya’ know? Um, yeah, I wanted a bedroom chair, but I really don’t see anything I like here. I’m just gonna come back another time.”
Like when I’m armed and with twenty other people.
“OH NO! YOU CAN’T LEAVE YET – YOU HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN THE CUSTOM MADE BEDROOM CHARIS!! JUST GIVE EM’ A LOOK, I’M SURE YOU’LL SEE SOMETHING YOU LIKE!”
His head bobbed up and down, and for a moment I was afraid that he might be trying to avoid sniper fire, but I eventually realized it was Jake’s way of physically intimidating me into looking at his frightening bedroom chairs. I realized that I was going to have to go along with this ruse in order to remove myself from this debacle without incident.
“Okay Jake, you’ve got five minutes to show me. I’m really not in a financial position to buy a bedroom chair today…”
“THEY’RE ONLY EIGHTY-NINE DOLLARS –DELIVERED! NOW TAKE A LOOK OVER HERE – THEY’RE JUST LITTLE GEMS – LOOK AT EM’!!”
With a flourish generally reserved for “The Price Is Right,” Jake flipped on a spotlight that illuminated six of the tiniest chairs I had ever seen in my life. They looked like Lilliputian replicas of regular chairs. There was nothing splendid or fantastic about any of them. I realized quickly I had been the victim of ‘bedroom chair phenomenon’ and immediately became angry.
“What the hell is this, Jake? These chairs are useless. Are they for cats? Really Jake, I drove all the way out here to get a bedroom chair, and you show me this tiny shit?”
Jake was truly shocked that I didn’t admire his ‘little gems’. He looked genuinely injured.
“MA’AM, BEDROOM CHAIRS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SMALL, THEY’RE FOR BEDROOMS. PEOPLE SIT ON THEM TO PUT THEIR SHOES ON. THEY’RE NOT FOR EVERY DAY USE; THEY’RE MORE DECORATIVE THAN ANYTHING.”
I’d had enough of his screaming and I was determined to leave immediately.
“Quit that damn screaming, Jake, and get a grip. If someone sat on those chairs even once, they’d break into a thousand pieces. What the hell do you use a decorative chair for, anyway? What, do you put a sign on it warning people not to sit on it? Now get the hell out of my way, I’m leaving you and your stupid damn decorative chairs.”
Ever the fanatical cleric salesman, Jake gave it one last try.
“WE HAVE BEAUTIFUL DINING ROOM TABLES!! LET ME SHOW YOU THE NEWEST FABRIC AND BALSA WOOD SOFA ON THE MARKET!! THEY’RE GEMS, I’M TELLIN’ YA!!”
Jake’s fervent screaming continued on as I left, fearing physical contact with him or any other item in the godforsaken place. While adjusting my rear-view mirror on the way out of the parking lot, I caught a glimpse of Jake dejectedly smoking a cigarette by the front door. I made a mental note to self that I could mark one more thing off the “bucket list”.