When you live alone, you can think of all kinds of bad things that might happen to you. A few years ago, my father fell and broke his hip. He spent hours crawling through the backyard and the garage to the driveway, where lay waving his hat until a neighbor saw him. I don’t know what would have happened if the big garage door had not been open.
So you think of that, falling and breaking a hip. Having a heart attack, stroke or seizure. Choking on a fish bone. Fainting. Falling and not being able to get up. Or being robbed, beat up, killed or raped.
Out here in the woods, where the houses are far apart, I’m not sure anyone would hear me calling for help. Unlike in the TV shows where friends are always dropping in, I can go a month without another person coming through my door. The gardeners only come every few weeks.
Knowing things could happen, I am super careful. But I never expected what happened yesterday when I sat down on my foldup canvas chair and the seat tore. Once it started tearing, it went all the way before I could get up. Suddenly I was trapped in the frame, wondering how the hell I was going to get out of it. It was one of those cheap chairs with the drink holder, the kind you take to parades or the beach. Was it Oregon-weathered just enough, do I weigh more than it could handle, or was it just that I flopped down in the unladylike way my mother always told me not to do?
Whatever, there I was with my butt on my newly painted deck, my arms caught on the arms of the chair, laughing but also wondering: How am I going to get out of this? I’m 68 years old. I have bum knees and arthritis. I wasn’t really injured, thank God, although my arms and my right shoulder hurt and my back was a little tweaked, but I was sure stuck. My cell phone was in the house. I had only planned to sit long enough to put on my shoes so I could take Annie for a walk.
I pushed. Nothing. I had chair frame on all sides of me. Was there some way to collapse it? No, my body was in the way. Could I tip myself over to the side and crawl out? It wouldn’t tip easily and I was afraid I’d get hurt if the chair and I fell hard. Damn. What I really needed at that point was another person to pull me up. It wouldn’t take much, just a little more power than I had, and then we’d laugh about it. But I was on my own. I had to get myself out of this fix.
I sat there for a minute, considering my options. “Okay,” I told myself. “Be strong!” I pushed with everything I had and managed to stand enough to grab the top of the nearby hot tub and haul myself out of that chair. Then I stared at it. I had just been sitting in it reading a couple hours earlier. Now the seat was completely ripped out. I picked it up and threw it on the growing pile of things that have to go the dump. Then I pulled it out to take a picture because, you know, I have to share everything with you.
We went for our walk, but my legs were shaking. I came home, opened a beer, and went back to watching videos—Netflix, “In the Dark,” gripping series about a blind woman and her friends caught in a web of crime.
Friends, beware of those canvas chairs. This one was Glacier’s Edge brand from Fred Meyer. The label says it’s not safe around fire and only holds one person at a time, up to 225 pounds. Well, I weigh considerably less than that. Do not stand on the chair or sit on the arms, it says. Keep your fingers out of the hinged areas. Well, sure, but what if the seat rips out from under you?
I really need some new deck furniture.
And a roommate with opposable thumbs. I’m rethinking this whole living-alone business. And yes, I know, always carry my phone or get a Life Alert button.
Ever had a run-in with a cheap canvas chair?