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Front Porch: Finding ideal angle of recline

I love my recliner.

Was there ever a chair made so perfect? There’s lower back support in just the right place. The back is high enough so there’s soft cushioning behind my head. In semi-reclining position, I can sit with my legs up, a pillow on my lap propping up a book as I read in comfort. And in full recline, I can comfortably watch TV or maybe sneak in a little power nap.

This is a bit of heaven masquerading as furniture.

Even though recliners are standard in the homes of those of us with gray hair, I have come to mine rather late – just a year ago, as a matter of fact. It wasn’t so much that I was resisting; I’d just never considered getting one. After all, I had a perfectly adequate, if a bit threadbare, chair to sit in. But then I went on a trip visiting friends and family.

I found house after house with a TV viewing corner or, in some cases, whole rooms in which some configuration of recliners predominated. Some were old and ratty, some in finely-upholstered matched sets and some as part of large curving couches with sections that recline and sections with cup holders, eating trays and more. I mean, who knew there was so much reclining variety out there? I began to get a hint of the hedonistic seating pleasure that could ensue.

When I came home, I surveyed the room in which my regular old chair sat. While my husband and I can watch TV from bed if we wish, that’s not my favorite place to do so, so I always go to my comfy chair in the room off the kitchen. There’s a big roll-top desk in that room, too, allowing very little space for anything other than one easy chair. It finally dawned on me that if my long-suffering spouse joined me there, he sat uncomplaining in an office chair. So I set out to see if there might be two small recliners that could fit into the space. I learned quickly the answer was no.

But then Bruce suggested maybe a loveseat recliner. Ta dah! I found the perfect one – tall enough, not too wide and with good firm cushions. Now, truth be told, it’s probably a bit big for the space. There’s no room for end tables, but we’ve got two bare-top wooden bar stools tucked in on either side, providing enough room for a glass of iced tea or a book. The room will never make it to the cover of any interior decorating magazines, but who cares? We can now sit together in delicious comfort, legs elevated and both reading or watching TV, like any respectable mature couple anywhere in the country.

But every success has its down side. My husband has so taken to the recliner that it became pretty much the only place where he’ll light. Problem. Yes, I want that nice together time, but I also want to spread out the newspaper, use the seat next to me for some craft projects I’m working on and just have elbow room.

I not-so-subtly suggested to my husband that he might like to go read in the living room sometimes and catch some of that nice light coming in through the glass slider. (After all, he used to read there.) I got kind of a blank response. Surely, he wasn’t that dense? We’ve since talked about it, and he assures me that, yes, he was indeed that dense.

I didn’t want to be rude about it, so I came up with a plan. I starting setting a little money aside and the following Christmas presented him with a one-person recliner to replace his living room reading chair. I set up a table next to it that had room for all his books and even got him a special reading lamp. It was his own special man reading-cave.

A few evenings later, I was watching a TV show, one he doesn’t especially care for, and in he came, book in hand. He plopped down next to me and, since he has a bit of a hearing deficit, was able to easily tune out the show and read in pleasure. I moved my materials off side two of the loveseat and wondered what went wrong.

Eventually I did the grown-up thing and spoke to him about it. He said that it isn’t about what we’re doing, he just likes sitting next to me and spending time together.

I am pond scum.

When my self-flagellation ended, we worked it out. Sometimes he reads in the living room, sometimes on the loveseat. I try to do my I-need-the-whole-loveseat activities while he’s working. And now, we often find ourselves holding hands as we sit together, talking or watching some program we both like.

As I said, a recliner is a little bit of heaven here on earth.

Stefanie Pettit can be reached by e-mail at upwindsailor@comcast. net.

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