It brings me no pleasure to tell you that my beanbag chair, which I had nicknamed Beanie for many years, was tossed in the trash this past weekend. Beanie had been residing in a particularly mildew-caked and dusty corner of my mother’s humungous garage, having suffered several tears and rips with no hope of repair; there are some wounds even duct tape can’t heal. So, there Beanie sat for years, surviving winters, floods and numerous visits from NYC handymen brought in to fix-up the garage in the two decades since my mother moved into her house.
My mother is an odd duck and so it came as no surprise when she announced to me that she had cleaned out the garage now, in the middle of November, some six months before most homeowners start their annual clear out. What did come as a surprise is when she uttered these words: “Oh, and I tossed out that smelly old beanbag sack.” I stalled for a moment and let out a chuckle, unable to understand what “sack” she was speaking of. And then it hit me, and for just the smallest fraction of a second, I felt grief for an inanimate object. These are things I will not be sharing with any of my prospective progeny or grandchildren, for that matter.
There are three distinct memories I have of Beanie that came rushing to me when I pieced together what my mother had done:
1. December, 1996: Sitting on Beanie with a small glass of beer my father had snuck me, playing a Star Wars video game and blaring a mix of Grateful Dead songs a friend had given me.
2. Summer, 1999: My first kinda-girlfriend and me, attempting to position ourselves comfortable on top of Beanie before watching Caddyshack for approximately the 77th time in my life.
3. August, 2001: Deciding to not bring Beanie with me to college, seeing as there was about as much personal space in my freshman-year dormroom as there were in those sweatboxes in Cool Hand Luke. Spend the night watching movies with my dog, Bishop, on Beanie, after saying goodbye to local friends.
Bean bag chairs came into prominence some time in the late 1960s and were favorites of hippies and quasi-informed philosophy students around those times, and I certainly wanted to connect to that generation and those people. I remember seeing a character in Richar Linklater’s Dazed and Confused sitting on one and immediately wanting to be that character. The bean bag chair started its slow crawl out somewhere in the mid-to-late 1980s and it essentially shrunk, becoming the much-loved and much-maligned hacky sack in the 1990s, seen on college campuses and high school soccer fields nationwide.
Still, there was a comfort that Beanie gave me that my beat-up futon doesn’t offer. Maybe it was the fragility of it, the fact that it was so prone to dilapidating injuries; the fleetingness of its lifespan. I always thought it was a comfort issue but frankly, my recliner is far more comfortable and I was never nuts about being that low to the ground. So, it remains a bit of mystery why I give half-a-care about Beanie, but I do, whether it is just plain old nostalgia or my intermittent ability to become a complete doodle-brain.