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Getting sentimental over some dumb chair

Barry Smith

I get sentimental over the dumbest things.

This week, it was a sand chair. I’ve had the thing for 20 years, and its last trip came Sunday when we went to see “The Comedy of Errors” at Sand Harbor.

The seams on the blue-plastic seat, which I’d already resewn a couple of times over the years, came apart again. So I sat on the collapsed seat on the sand one last time and told my wife, Jenny, “Well, I guess it’s time to go buy a new sand chair.”

Men like to think they’re unaffected by sentamentality, but don’t believe it. We’re just not affected the same way that Hallmark would like us to be – by flowers and hearts and weddings and anniversaries.

Look around the house. I’m sure you’ll find something that should have been gone years ago, but lingers on because of some undefinable attachment.

Maybe it’s a baseball glove left over from Little League. Battered and stiff, it now gets dragged out occasionally for a softball game. We never lose confidence in the mitt itself, because it never let us down the way age and atrophied muscles inevitably do.

There are big things, like an old pickup, that we simply can’t let go. And there are small things, like a pair of boots we bought, saying “This time I’m going to spend the money on a really good pair of boots, and this will be the last pair of boots I’ll ever need.”

Once you’ve vowed something like that, as long as the boots keep their end of the bargain, you feel compelled to keep yours.

Guys have ratty, holey sweatshirts with emblems so faded no one else could possibly know what the letters once represented. But the guy knows.

It reminds them of where they’ve been, of who they are. They could throw the sweatshirt away, but why? If space in the drawer is short, they would rather throw out that itchy new shirt they got from Aunt Millie last Christmas.

Corduroy jackets that have been in and out of style more times than Cher. Record albums so scratched they’ll never play again. Books missing whole chapters.

For me, this time it was the sand chair. I carried the thoroughly ordinary blue-and-aluminum thing out with the rest of the trash and left it by the curb.

But I couldn’t help thinking what a marvel is the sand chair. What did we ever do before such things were invented?

Sit in the sand, yes.

The chair, though, was a marked improvement. Low to the ground, so you could stretch your legs out in front of you, the sand chair can be every bit as comfortable as the La-Z-Boy at home.

Properly positioned, with a cooler to the left and tackle box to the right, one can spend hours at a time in a sand chair. It is necessary to rise only occasionally, when some bothersome fish has found its way onto your hook, to release the fish back into the water. Returning to the chair, you bait the hook and cast into some less-likely place.

That blue chair has accompanied me to concerts and bluegrass festivals and softball games. It has sat on the snow while I watched crazy Gelande jumpers. It has sat on the ice while I tried to figure out why I was watching a bobber in a hole on a frozen lake.

Plenty of times it has gone with me to mountain lakes, but the shores there are often too steep and rocky to really take advantage of its design.

The sand chair, of course, was made for sitting in the sand at a lake in the middle of the desert.

It was there when five of us piled into two canoes with camping gear, fishing poles, two dogs and coolers enough to supply food and beer for a long weekend at Lake Powell. We were so loaded down in those canoes, gliding atop 600 feet of water a half-mile from shore, that any unattentive powerboater could have swamped us in a heartbeat. But we survived; so did the chair.

The sand chair went along on all those trips to Navajo Lake, on the Colorado-New Mexico line, when we were much younger and thought we were cliff-divers. It was along when Jenny got a bad hamburger at Fry Canyon and lay shivering in a sleeping bag inside a tent in the middle of a 104-degree day.

It’s been to Pyramid and Mead and Topaz and Blue Mesa and McPhee, and to many places that didn’t have any water as far as the eye could see.

Just a dumb blue plastic-and-aluminum chair, no reason in the world to get sentimental over the thing. Or maybe I’m just cheap.

But before the garbage truck could arrive, I went out and retrieved it off the pile of trash. I think maybe I can sew up the seams one more time.

Barry Smith is managing editor of the Nevada Appeal.