I stood in the doorway confounded, a rather large box on the hall floor next to the deliveryman with his digital scanner.
‘Ach, what did she buy now?’ he said, ‘You’re looking at me confused, like a lot of blokes.’
Then it dawned on me, ‘Ach no, this time it’s for me, it’s my new chair!’
‘Sign here then…’
Today my new chair was delivered. I have coveted this chair for longer than I care to admit. Well, not this actual chair. This is a replica of the actual coveted chair, those famous Eames aluminium chairs from the 1950s, the Eames EA108.
Probably due to the fact that the replicas made in China were becoming so accurate, as of January 31st in the UK, dealers are no longer able to sell replicas of older design icons. The originals are outlandishly expensive but the replicas are still pricy, so it was only when the laws changed and the replica dealers needed to liquidate stock and slashed prices by up to 70% that I felt comfortable enough to realize my dream of having a stylish and iconic ‘replica’ chair in which to write my blog and generally sit at my computer and slavishly read below-the-line comments on the Guardian website.
My first desk chair in Glasgow was one that I had salvaged New York style – as if I was still my younger self living on the Lower East Side – from the alley out back after someone’s apartment clear-out. It was a nice looking vintage wooden chair with a fake leather seat and back and worked fine until the teeth of the screws that I had used to repair it tore out of the wood again. As I picked myself up from the floor, and the girls who had been watching telly behind me screamed with laughter, it became glaringly obvious I needed that new chair.
But it wasn’t until the dining chair I had been using as a replacement started cutting off the circulation in my thighs that I finally caved in. If I wrote for more than a few hours, a creepy numbness would linger in the muscles just behind my knee. It wasn’t unlike the dead toe I carried for years after college from standing on concrete for 18 hours a day working on the slab during the brief summer salmon season in Alaska.
Two nights before my chair arrived I was helping my wife pack for a business trip to New York. I was putting her laundered clothing back in her drawers and acting as a sort of stylist reviewing her various meeting outfits. The complexity of putting together each outfit astounded me. My wife had to look stunning and impressive at these meetings, and she appeared to be succeeding in both.
I cannot do them or her justice, but the main meeting look featured a light blue dress shirt with French cuffs and an oversized collar over a dark-grey wool dress with some gun-metal biker boots. She couldn’t determine if she should finish it off with a French-looking wool jacket a la Chanel or more of a Burberry-esque short trench coat. We decided the former, as it was less boxy, but that she should take it off early in the meeting so as to look that bit more ‘Kick-Ass’.
All I can tell you is that I wanted whatever she was selling. The outfit worked and so did the others. They had an air of New York and were sexy without being overtly sexual in anyway.
‘Wear something low-cut, the man you are pitching is somewhat of a dog’ was a direct quote from one of her advising sales reps, so she had to tread a fine-line.
It was nice to be able to be helpful in that situation, to be able to revel in how good she looked and how good she was going to do in those meetings. But mainly eye-opening in regards to the amount of care and effort a businesswoman must go through to dress herself with the appropriate battle armor. Clothes that both empower her and make her look formidable, but also retain a certain amount of sexiness to keep the men in the room interested. Without seeming the least bit sexual, or that she is in any way trying too hard to impress anyone with the way she looks, and not just her business acumen.
Especially considering that my wardrobe as a stay-at-home dad, with my maximum exposure to the adult world usually limited to 15 minutes either side of the school pickup or drop-off, usually amounts to putting on yesterday’s trousers, polo and pullover in three-day cycles.
It made me look afresh at the line item in our family budget labelled ‘FASH’, for fashion, that goes toward all of my wife’s online clothing and shoe purchases from the sales on MatchesFashion.com or STYLEBOP.com. Maybe I labelled it as ‘fashion’ in a derogatory way, as an unnecessary extravagance. Maybe it wasn’t the right word. Maybe I should have labelled it ‘ARMOR’ or something else as utilitarian as ‘CHAIR’. Considering all that I had witnessed, she was doing an excellent job of armoring up with that paltry sum. She not only looked incredible, but managed to come under budget last year – and fit it all in one suitcase.
It puts into perspective my previous misgivings about her purchases, about not being a spendthrift, and my guilt for coveting a designer object regardless of how useful it could be. It makes me want to respond retroactively to the delivery-man when he mistook my silence for a generic male reproach on my wife’s purchasing patterns, and to myself, for when I sign for a future delivery from Hush or Net-a-Porter;
‘And so what if it is, mate, so what if it is.’