The Chair That Melted

It’s not too often that one gets the chance to experience a sensation that is completely new and unexpected, and even less often that it comes from completely mundane circumstances. But it happened to me.

The other day I was having dinner with my comedian friend Ben at a Thai restaurant in Sunnyvale that shall remain nameless. We had been there for a few hours, and had already finished eating, just discussing a multitude of topics. I was rocking my chair a little bit, when suddenly, something seemed wrong.

I felt as though I was losing control. Like something was wrong. Maybe there was an earthquake, or I was having a stroke, but I couldn’t hold myself up. I started to lilt to the left, then sink lower. Not in a symmetrical way. I was completely confused and baffled as to what was happening, and not just on a conscious level — my body had no intuitive knowledge how to respond or stay up.

Soon, I found myself, sitting on the floor. Balance restored, I finally felt normal again. It was just a few seconds, but it was remarkably bizarre and weird. I looked around in an effort to figure out what happened.

It quickly became obvious that the left front leg of my chair had failed. It had twisted off and broken. Not cleanly, either. It was as though the leg had rotted or been eaten by termites, and finally been weakened enough to just slowly give up.

I was completely uninjured, and confused enough that I was not even embarrassed.

Ben pointed out that the detached leg looked like a pepper mill, so I picked it up and mimed doling out fresh pepper in the way that fancy waiters do (although not generally at a Thai restaurant).

I swapped the broken chair with another at a nearby table, and we resumed our conversation.

On the way out, Ben, being nonstandard, said to a waiter “You’re sorry that happened,” and the waiter, who was not quite fluent, responded with “That’s okay.”