An Office Chair, a short story by James Marchiori at
Michał Kubalczyk

An Office Chair

An Office Chair

written by: James Marchiori



I can’t remember where I was, a Shopping Centre perhaps. I read somewhere there, on a commercial banner… no, it can’t be. It was something underneath, almost subliminal. The confused sound of the Shopping Centre’s radio, well audible just after the entrance and then, gradually, inside the galleries. Just a confusing rustle… but no, it can’t be. I got it. It was at a home party; I was talking with somebody, the umpteenth unwanted guest… I guess I took care of it.

Anyway, somewhere I heard this message: “I enjoy taking an undefendable position and creating an argument on it.”

It is exactly the body of existence. That’s why it marks my mind so deeply because it is the key, the explanation on why, and who, and again, why I behave as I did for all my life. It seems nothing, but for me, it was a torment. The big question mark. Until I found the answer. Now I’m complete.

Based on this, now that I have taken the sword from the rock, I can share the analysis with you. Because I have the answer. The orphan has a name now. His name is undefendable.

I will start with a look around, and what I see is a large office. Chairs, desks, windows, bright light coming through, and a coat hanger drowning in coats. It is cold today, but I assure you, we are not in Siberia. Somebody is wearing an arctic parka, with the huge pockets for the supplementary heater, made of a sort of iron canvas, unfoldable, unmovable, probably a living thing itself. Why was it left on the communal coat stand? It needs a special parking permit. Now everybody else who arrived a little later must put their modest coats on the back of their chair, being uncomfortable for the rest of the day. The problem with this kind of parka, apart from the little described, is the belonging. What? Yes, the belonging.

Don’t be surprised. We must understand things.

If you have the feeling of playing a little innocent game with someone, just bet a simple coffee or cappuccino on this question. What kind of car will the parka owner have?

Then wait for a while. It’s not a matter of surveillance or spying on people, not a good thing to do at all. It’s just a matter of time. One day or another, you notice that the parka owner, walking across the parking lot like Armstrong on the moon, is headed to something you’ve never seen before.

An eight-point two liters pickup truck, with twin wheels on the back. Black tinted windows. The owner is happy to show the little knot of people formed as the audience that he, as a tall man, can barely reach the front hood. The maximum ecstasy arrives when he hits the button to unblock the doors. A jubilee of lights, almost a firework display.

The crowd is ready to applaud. They stop for decency. It is not a show, better to say, not as it is normally intended. But the parka owner knows he had the success he wanted. After the ladder to jump on the bison, he is now comfortably seated on the heated, white ice leather seat, enjoying the success hidden behind the tinted windows.

What does this tell us? We need to listen to the voice of the bitterest commenter we have at disposition. There is always one. Straight away, we will have the opposite point of view, better if a little envious.

What do we hear, typically? “Oh, I can’t stand him. What’s the matter to show he is rich? If he has all the money he is showing, there is no point in him coming here stealing from those who need it. I heard he is alone, like a dog. Of course, people go with him just for the money. He is ugly, though; with all that money he could fix his teeth though…” and so on.

With my little studies, I understand where the actual point is. It can’t be a generic discussion. I hate those conversations; it is something demonstrable by reasonable facts, you just need to think about it, or to observe it.

The man is not just showing, it’s simply not enough. His alleged richness? Legend, most of the time. Rich people have better ways to waste time than a goal-setting workplace to go to with hierarchy rankings to respect; so, what?

Wrong man in the wrong life.

Maybe misfortune, incapacity, impossibility to pursue a dream.

The man is out of the contest he wanted for himself. So? Frustration. Frustration makes us children, once pushed to the boundaries. Children are geniuses in imitation. Imitation of life. When the imitation game starts, the result is often ridiculous. A parody.

To be fair, I need to talk about both genders. I just gave a male example. What about a woman, cut from the same cloth?

Ok, go back to the office. Inside. Look at the coat stand. Can you see the parka? Not anymore. Am I right? Yes, the parka is now at the bottom of the room, on a broken chair nobody is using. Why did the man accept to move it? Smell the air. Can you feel this perfume on the market for five hundred quids? Perfect. Now, look at the hanger again. Can you see that camel wool coat so long that is mopping the floor? Excellent. Move your focus slowly, following the imaginary line made by the perfume. Can you dig it?

There she is! From bottom to top. Black suede brogue wedge platform shoes, high-waisted jeans with a turn-up bottom, cashmere hairy top with generous neckline, famous brand checkered scarf, black blazer on top, worn informally. What’s wrong with it? Nothing. A woman who takes care of herself, very pleasant, undoubtedly. That’s why it’s wrong to speak or think in general terms. My nanny used to say that you can take a bunch of flowers, but not a bunch of people. Gospel truth.

But here we have other elements that make the difference. Other so-called normal things, when exasperated and put all together, are the keys to creating a different picture.

Lips done, cheekbones lifted, mink lashes done, extreme icy balayage on dark natural base done, extreme orange spray tan done. Enormous, lavish, designer tote bag abandoned on the desk to dominate on the desk. The effect is the same in a picture made with a low F-number lens. A portrait. The subject is close, well defined, clear, all the rest nice and blurred.

The bag is there open, to show its content; an elegant agenda, a massive and expensive wallet, a fancy make-up bag, and the unfaltering, oversized smartphone.

In the fifties, this kind of woman used to have some silver decorated cigarette holders and lighter. Recently we discovered that smoking kills. So, no, out of time, politically incorrect. The Pilates keyring, instead.

The little cherry on the sundae? The way she sits. She is not on the chair, but on the corner of the desk, chatting with everyone, showing all her stuff, faking enthusiasm and complicity.

Oh, I almost forgot. The teeth. Pure porcelain, not handmade. She is the love of her dentist.

Once again, all of us can recognize in the parka man or the super accessorized woman, but it is perhaps the excess of all their features that triggers the parody. Parodying what? The model I saw, a friend maybe. Who is parodying whom? Almost always a minor celebrity. Why minor? Because a celebrity doesn’t need to flaunt their wealth. The smaller is popularity, the greater the mistake gaining it. How? Flaunting. Why? Because of the frustration. If you think to use the image to make a living, think twice. The real one never flaunts, but offers. Parody is meant as an exaggerated imitation. This is what I’m talking about. Imitation of life.

Change of subject. Same office, can you see any umbrella stand around? No. People of my age will probably remember the massive umbrella stand at the entrance of the public school on rainy days, as well as in restaurants and nightclubs. Let’s have a look at the old world. What did they do wrong? Smoking, driving after drinking and without seatbelts; considering women as a minority, being racists. This is not my opinion; it is something I’ve been hearing in defense of modern times. All true, no complaints. What did they do right? Most of them never stole an umbrella. That’s it? Of course not. Nowadays, people take the motorway to find a spot and smoke without being seen; they drink and drive slower not to be caught drunk; they consider the woman a minority inside the domestic walls, often using violence, or mobbing her if the walls are the workplace. A so-called friend looks at the other badly because her boyfriend is black. Well, long list. Back to the umbrella. Why has the umbrella stand disappeared?

I used to work as a manager in a place where a client came one day with a very expensive designer umbrella. That umbrella got replaced by someone with a replica that’s worth little more than a postcard.

The client sued.

Eventually, the company had to refund her, because the theft took place on our premises. The attorney highly recommended removing the umbrella stand, officially because, “nowadays people steal umbrellas, and that’s the company liability.”

Is that true?

Not at all. That umbrella was stolen because of the brand. I said brand. Not even the worth. It was the occasion to have a piece of gear for the parody actor. Extremely gluttonous chance. The famous DJ, that no one has ever seen play, enters the trendy wine bar holding a very expensive golf umbrella that he just stole at the butcher shop.

Umbrellas had always been stolen. It never happens because, ‘I have no money for one,’ or, ‘sugar! It’s rainy outside. Let me steal one of those.’ Nobody likes to be caught stealing. Everybody prefers to get soaked wet instead. The trigger is that logo.

For that reason, companies took precautions. It was unfair for them to pay for the crime of somebody else. The choice was between that or the umbrella bodyguard. Costly. Let’s remove the umbrella stand. It’s free. Let’s do it for free. We paid enough.

All of this, to say what?

We canceled the primal energy, the lifeblood of pure enthusiasm. We crafted a technological, easy-free world. Flat in terms of emotions, too often a frustrated, deceiving version of the previous. Still keeping all the old flaws well hidden.

Fighting for the energy of pure thought and the wellbeing of your opinion; in my head, it is the only way for a better world. We hate to be controlled, but we are the source of the control.

-Be beautiful because the future needs beautiful creatures to be complete. Try not to show, but to tell-

-Tell me you love me- said she/he. Say it. You’ll have time to show her/him, and when you do, choose the right means. We need thoughts stronger than will. Willpower is the second part of the journey. We need to re-gain the word and the quality of it.

Are you asking me, who am I to offer these proclamations?

A passionate. A fast-lane lover. A man of thought, who’d rather sleep in that office chair than see where we are headed.

Help me. Remember me.

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