I have come to the conclusion that one of the worst things you can do as a host is let your guests sit on near-death chairs. To date, two of our guests have sat on chairs that fell to pieces underneath them. They were embarrassed; we were embarrassed; and nothing we could say could convince them that the disaster was really the fault of us not replacing chairs that wanted to die. To this date, both of those guests (who are still kind enough to show up at our house) seem to have a strong preference for our sofas over any chair, and I think at least one has developed a neurosis about leaning back in any chair of any shape.
Honestly, the disasters had nothing to do, whatsoever, with our guests’ sizes, placement on the chairs, or force exerted while sitting. Peter and I just bought cheap chairs and used them well past their replacement date. Besides the two that turned into sticks at the touch of our guests’ bottoms, there were another two that spontaneously besticked themselves. And more recently, we had one that had turned into sticks but which we were still using, as long as Kelly, and Kelly only, sat on it.
It still made me nervous, but Peter and I were having an awful time trying to find replacments. We looked at Target, where there were great chairs, as long as we liked them black, which would look strange with our ash blond table. We looked at Home Depot, where the chairs were just plain ugly. We thought about looking at Macy’s, but we’re still cheap. Then when we looked at an OSH flyer, for completely other reasons, Peter saw chairs that looked exactly like the ones we had, on sale.
Today, I went to OSH, and discovered that they were indeed, exactly like the ones we had, so we could throw away the dangerous one, and replace it (and two of the ones that had decided to die) for an acceptable price. I bought them and assembled them. They have a sturdier construction that the originals. But I also shamed a bit when I saw the chairs were made in Malaysia, just like the old ones.
Less than two months ago, I was speaking to my friend’s brother-in-law, who works for a business that imports Chinese furniture into the U.S. I got the inkling that Chinese furniture is crafted inexpensively. Malaysian furniture is the usual cheap-as-possible glue-and-screw construction that won’t last, for, er, more than 1o years. If you want pretty inlays, and clever wood joins, that’s Chinese. If it’s held together mostly by dried-out glue, and the veneer flakes after a year, that’s Malaysian. Naturally, I could expect a bias, but I’ve seen both kinds of furniture, and I couldn’t really disagree.
So, well, friends, you can sit safely on 3 of our chairs for at least another 10 years (no guarantees on the older ones.) After that, maybe we’ll be rich enough to buy Chinese. But if our furniture disintigrates at your touch, really, it’s the furniture, not you.