Was It Adam Who First Said “Take a Load Off Your Feet?”

 By Bill Primavera

The Home Guru

As I sat at my kitchen table the other morning in an old Hitchcock chair that has been hitting me at the wrong place in my back for more than 25 years, I grumbled to my wife, “Why do I subject myself to this agony every day?  My wife responded, “You’ve never complained about it before,” which made me ponder, is my aging posterior not as tolerant as it used to be?

Whatever the reason, I ended the conversation by promising to go out and find the biggest, most comfortable kitchen chair for myself, and I didn’t care if it didn’t match anything else in the house.

It was not one of my best mornings.

For the rest of the day, my mind seemed to fixate on chairs, wondering how long people have been sitting in them. When sharing that apple, Adam and Eve must have sat on a rock or fallen log, but that would assume that trees fell to the ground in Paradise.

Or if you’re more evolution minded, you might consider that our ancestor, the ape, had no rump at all for comfort and probably just squatted.

But once man stood upright and developed a more ample derriere, there surely was a need once in a while to “take a load off” his feet by sitting. 

My earliest memory of a reference to sitting in a chair was when, as a five-year old, I giggled uncontrollably over a comedic line from either Milton Berle or an old Marx brothers movie where a Margaret Dumont type character was told to sit in order to take a load off the floor.

I also remember that my mother once told my older siblings and me that we must always sit in a chair when eating so that the food would not travel down and give us fat ankles!  My brother, always a bigger wiseacre than I, responded, “But if we sit in a chair when we eat, won’t we get fat rear-ends?”

While it is not certain when the first person crafted a seat with a back and sat in it, archeological evidence at Neolithic sites indicates bench-like seating areas. The earliest physical evidence we have of chairs is from the Egyptian tombs from about 2800 BC, but such comforts were normally reserved to denote higher elevation in society.

It wasn’t until the Renaissance in Europe that the chair came into more general use. And, since that time, the style of chairs has reflected the times in which they were crafted as much as fashion for clothing.  But, it was the industrial revolution in which chairs could be machine-made that placed chairs into every household.

Almost from the beginning, chairs of plain utilitarian design sat alongside those of great style and beauty. Chair design came into its own in our culture when nurtured by our original settlers who brought style along with function from their mother land.

Today we have works of art realized in chair design, created with both ergonomic and functional considerations. But then, chairs were always functional. The original intention for wing-backed chairs, for instance, was to shield its occupants from drafts in the room, but long after drafts were a thing of the past, the design survived to this day.

Until recently I have been a traditionalist, living in antique homes and collecting antique furnishings, focused on chairs, ranging from early Queen Ann and later Hepplewhite to a prized barrel back chair from the 1930s that I am told was the favorite of Mayor LaGuardia in his office at City Hall.  If I ever want to run for political office, my plan will be to have myself photographed in that chair for good luck.

But lately I’ve been hankering to live my golden years sitting in modern chairs with clean and simple lines.  And I discovered one in the showroom of one of my commercial listings, created and patented by a master craftsman named Kevin Brown who operates now out of Beacon, NY. He calls it his “Marilyn” chair because of its undulating curves. When I sat in it, it was as though it had been ergonomically designed specifically for my back, so I want it to replace my torture rack in my kitchen.

Or, I wonder, is my fixation based more on the vision of my fanny being embraced by Marilyn Monroe?

Bill Primavera is a licensed Realtor® affiliated with Coldwell Banker and a marketing practitioner who writes regularly as The Home Guru. For questions or comments about the housing market, or selling or buying a home, he can be reached directly at 914-522-2076.