Whenever I am asked to build a rocking chair, I say: “Sorry, I don’t make them. They are a totally different animal than what I build.”
But if you could centrifuge the polite Southerner out of my response, it might sound more like: “Gawd, I cannot abide rocking chairs.”
I know. It’s a weird hill to die on. But I have honestly never liked rocking chairs. I don’t like their limited functionality. I don’t like sitting in them. And I don’t like the way they look.
Some of you are thinking (while flinging your pizza crusts at the computer screen) that I have perhaps never sat in a good rocking chair. Not true. I have been to the mountain in Rancho Cucamonga. The first time I met Sam Maloof, he took me into his restored childhood home and let me sit in every one of the chairs there, including multiple rockers. The chairs were beautiful in every way. But when I sat in them, I felt the same way when I sit in any rocker – unsteady.
I like a chair that feels sturdy when it embraces you – not roll back on its heels like a tipsy aunt at a wedding. My regular chairs can be used for multiple tasks. You can type at a desk. Eat at a dining table. Play a guitar. Or sit back with a drink. And if you want to “rock,” you can tip back on the chair’s rear legs and balance.
Some people think this is savagery. I think it’s the best thing in the world.
Have you ever tried eating at the dinner table in a rocking chair? Or typing? I have, and it’s not fun.
I know you are thinking: Think of the children! Rocking chairs are designed to lull babies to sleep. That didn’t work with my kids. We had a rocking chair in the nursery and it just seemed to make them spit up more on my shoulder.
To be honest, I think rocking chairs are more symbolic than functional. Here in the South they are on most every porch. The Cracker Barrel restaurants will have 20 of them lined up outside for people waiting for their fried chicken dinner. The rocking chair symbolizes leisure time and relaxation. And maybe I’m just too tightly wound for that.
Or maybe I just get motion sick too easily. Mom says when I was a baby I’d throw up my hot dog lunch all over the car window during even a short trip.
So perhaps I should take two dramamine and shut the heck up.
— Christopher Schwarz