Not long ago, I was digging through my apartment in search of loose change, hoping to buy a Coke from the vending machine down the road. I pillaged all the usual places: the drawers, the couch cushions, and the section of the bathroom floor that surrounds the laundry pile. It suddenly occurred to me that I had overlooked a potential gold mine. I had overlooked it many, many times during previous coin-hunts.
In the corner of my living room, there’s a chair that belonged to my dad when he lived with my great grandparents. It’s upholstered in golden vinyl and it probably dates back to the 1960s or 70s. When my great grandfather passed away in 1996, I claimed the chair. It’s been with me ever since. My friend Paul says I should burn it or hurl it in a dumpster, but I insist on keeping it.
I’ve always noticed that the chair makes a peculiar jingling noise when I move it or bump up against it. Starving for caffeine and desperate for coins, I decided to flip the chair upside down, thrust a steak knife into its soft underbelly, and slash it open. Next, I flipped it right-side-up and shook it violently. Panting and wheezing, I shoved the chair aside and surveyed the little pile of junk that had tumbled onto the carpet: a matchbook from Shoney’s, a box of “crayon” candles, a guitar pick, a hairpin, a small change purse, toenail clippers, and a receipt, among other doodads. The matches still work, but the flames always die quickly and leave behind a nauseating odor. (They’re probably thirty years old, I’m guessing.)
The chair also yielded a few coins, but they only added up to forty cents. I wasn’t able to get a Coke that day.