When I was in my early forties, I purchased my first La-Z-Boy recliner. It was a concession to fast-approaching middle-age and a recognition of the importance of function over form. Newly single at the time, I spent many leisurely hours reading books or watching television so comfort was essential. That chair was dark green chenille and it served me well for many years.
Thirty years and several La-Z-Boys later, I’m confronted with signs announcing “Closing-Out Sale” on La-Z-Boy stores around the city. I haven’t been able to figure out whether they’re shutting down entirely or just shuttering unprofitable locations. Either way, I’m concerned that my future supply could dry up and how will I ever get through my twilight years if my current chairs crap out.
About a year ago my husband’s beige leather La-Z-Boy developed a noisy transmission problem that required the services of a repairman to get it ratcheting properly again. Even with a repair bill of around $350.00 it was still cheaper than buying a new one. Unfortunately, his chair is starting to resemble a leather version of the duct-taped horror favoured by Frasier Crane’s father. Despite regular lashings of leather cleaner, the dye is fading out where he rests his bored and sleepy head during Leafs’ games and clawing at the arms while watching CNN. It’s a working chair.
My own recliner is more feminine. It’s a tasteful black and beige paisley print in a sturdy fabric that has performed well for ten years now and shows no signs of imminent demise. It’s not actually the La-Z-Boy brand but I’ve chalked up thousands of hours in its lovely embrace with my iPad in hand while binge-watching my favourite shows. I’ve always found it impossible to fully relax unless my head is supported by a headrest and my feet and legs are raised and parallel to the floor. Then, I’m good to go for hours on end with the odd break to fetch another cup of tea.
Recliners are multi-functional miracles. You can work in them, read in them, sleep in them and if you’re really adventurous and creative, you can even do other things in them but just be careful not to put too much weight on the back or the whole thing will crash backwards, which happened to me once.
We’ve owned La-Z-Boy sofas with drop-down middle armrests that include cupholders and snack trays. It’s just like flying first class. The extra $100.00 I once spent on one to get the recliner button electrified was the best investment I ever made. We even managed to score a couple of outdoor La-Z-Boys at Canadian Tire for our back patio a few years ago, which get a lot of use during warm weather. And now they’re going the way of the Blackberry.
Fortunately, recliners are also made by other manufacturers. I’ll be sorry to see the La-Z-Boy brand disappear but let’s face it, they were a bit pricey. Their stores did carry a great selection of home accessories though and even though I’m no longer in the market for lamps, pictures or tchotchkes, they’ll be missed.
My own recliner should last at least another ten years and with a little duct tape, WD40 and leather cleaner, my husband’s chair should hold out for a while too. It’s worth noting that since all the home confinement related to COVID-19, our backsides are pretty much taking root in our chairs and soon we may find it hard to extricate ourselves without a tree-puller. Fortunately, our neighbour has one and makes house calls. It’s been a wonderful ride.
Next week I’ll be posting a review of Barbara Amiel’s new memoir Friends and Enemies.