and now he has bought one. A man was getting divorced. His wife too. The man placed an internet advertisement offering a thousand dollar leather club chair for two hundred dollars. Mister Chu drove across Austin, which is still a small city, entered the man’s house, observed the chair, gave the man ten twenty dollar bills, drove the chair home, and in less than an hour was sitting on it in his own largely empty living room. He put a small wooden trunk beside it and placed on that three books. Tourist volumes about Van Gogh, French Impressionism and a thin collection of poetry by a man who died while still young.
Mister Chu believes in making places within the space he lives. He calls them comfort areas and a single room can contain three or four of these from which the view or outlook allows him a different perspective and feeling. The chair has created an environment that didn’t exist previously.
He also has a value-for-money system which he applies to all bought or found objects (those things found being cheaper in their acquisition, but still having a cost associated with their utility or how much he actually uses them or what value they add or take away from the square footage they take up specifically and -in the case of furniture- how they effect that which surrounds them).
In this method of economy he uses shoes as a base unit of comparative currency when explaining the idea to others. However, by extrapolation, he will also -over time- come to conclusions about his investment in an item such as, in this case, his new leather club chair.
It is a simple matter. Initial cost is divided by utility over time. If a pair of shoes costs one hundred dollars and he wears the shoes just once and then returns them to his closet they have an invisible tag on them (only Mister Chu can see it) saying one hundred, which is what they have so far cost to wear. When he wears them again the number on the tag is halved; now these shoes have cost him fifty dollars an outing. This process of division continues without end until he loses the shoes, they are thrown away or reach the point that, perhaps when Mister Chu one day moves house again, he realizes that he no longer wears these shoes nor is ever likely to. Red plastic boots having a tendency to subside.
With continuing and refined application he is hoping to develop his sensibility sufficiently to gauge at the time of any item’s potential purchase its likely per use cost. This method does not address the feeling of value as a bride may spend five thousand dollars on a dress, wear it but once, yet consider her (father’s?) investment a good one. However, for most items, it does give some insight into the relationship between the moment of must have and the reality of did use.
He sits, almost lounging, in his chair. A glass of iced water in hand. Incapable of getting past the thought that the divorcing husband may at the same moment be telling his divorcing wife that he accepted a hundred for the chair and here’s her share, just fifty. He doesn’t want to believe this, but every story has a shadow and every love affair now begun carries the context of its own previously acquired baggage.
In this moment of human history Mister Chu weighs 192 pounds. He is sitting comfortably.