I don’t give names to my pieces of furniture. I have nothing against people who do, but it’s just not my thing. But sometimes a piece of furniture reminds me of someone as I’m building it. When I look at this backstool I can think only of Joe Kent Wagg.
For three years I attended a Lutheran school that was populated by a volatile mix of smart kids, token charity cases and trouble-makers. In fourth grade, our resident bully was Joe, who was older, bigger and had questionable dental hygiene.
I was the kid with a bowl haircut, glasses and a smart mouth, so naturally Joe had it in for me on the playground. Thanks to Joe I learned a lot about scuffling, chewing dirt and hiding in the bushes – all valuable skills in the corporate world.
While Joe ruled recess, he struggled in school. He would get out of his seat several times a day and sprint around the classroom. Eventually the teacher brought a roll of duct tape to class and adhered him to his chair by wrapping his midsection to the chair’s back.
This did not stop him. Partially mummified, he would tip backward in his chair all day, a clear violation of school rules.
So the teacher taped him to a chair that with casters on the feet. When Joe tipped back, he would fall on the floor like a crippled turtle unable to get upright.
We were commanded to ignore him, and Joe was left on the floor for what seemed like hours.
I think it was that day that I started to have a problem with authority.
So Joe, this three-legged backstool is for you.
— Christopher Schwarz