Naugahyde Dreams

In my youth there was a chair that sat in front of a window in our family room. It wouldn’t have won any style awards and, in fact, probably would have given Martha Stewart cold chills. It was what I suppose you would have called antique gold in color and was made out of Naugahyde … a slick way of saying vinyl in the 1970s. I believe that the chair may have been a cast off from one of the mobile homes on the lot where my dad worked briefly as a salesman. It was a rocker, though with my legendary motion sickness, I didn’t do a lot of rocking in it. The chair was my Mama’s usual resting place on the rare occasions when she actually got to sit down for a minute.

No one else probably thought the chair was anything special, but I sure did. On nights when I couldn’t sleep or days when I was upset about my big brother picking on me, that chair was where I went for comfort. Mom would take me on her lap, hold me in her arms, and slowly trace circles around the perimeter of my face with the pads of her index and middle fingers until I calmed down and, quite often, went to sleep. This practice continued long past the time when I should have been on her lap, but I don’t remember her ever refusing me.

When I was older I would pester my mom to let me play with her shoulder-length blonde hair. She would turn in that chair, put her legs over the arm, and I would brush and braid her hair. I wasn’t the most cosmetologically skilled kid and I’m sure I often pulled her hair and caused discomfort, but what I remember was how relaxing the practice seemed to be for both of us. Maybe my memories aren’t exactly accurate. After all, mom did end up buying me that Barbie Totally Hair Styling Head for Christmas one year. But I choose to remember it that way.

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