Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Collateral Damage

My inanimate objects are suffering from Covid-19, and it’s not just my car. The latest victim: my beanbag chairs.

Yes, yes, I know: nobody has beanbag chairs anymore. Nobody in their Third Third. Nobody who has trouble getting up once they’ve gotten down. I have that trouble, too. But when the TV proved too hard to see all the way from the couch, it was easier to drag the beanbags out into the middle of the floor, closer to the TV. 

(Why do they insist on using text messages on detective shows? You have to race for the pause button and get right up to the TV to see what crucial bit of information the detective has just received.) 

But now – compliments of Netflix and Prime and Hulu, Disney+ and HBO Max and PBS Passport – the beanbags are pretty squashed and flattened. I’m not sitting on beans anymore; I’m sitting on floor.

I sewed my first giant-size beanbag chairs back when I had my first apartment. They have a muslin lining so I can wash the outside, and there have been many iterations of the outside as they wore out, were faded by the sun, or just got tired. Now the outsides are fine; it’s the insides that have Covid.

The issue is the filling: Styrofoam pellets. They start out round and roly-poly, but they flatten. Then you have to add more. That was easier in the ’70s. Since then, it’s been a challenge.

I filled my first beanbag chair in Berkeley, California. I’d driven there in my little Datsun and stuffed it full, really FULL. It was like an early version of air bags, I guess, but as if they’d already exploded. I ended up spending the night, and when my friend Jenny saw the car the next morning, she marveled that no junkies had broken in thinking it was some incredible bounty of drugs.

When I lived in San Francisco and my brother worked the early a.m. shift as a trolley coach driver, he used to show up at my place, settle in the beanbag chair in the sun, and fall asleep. So when he turned 50, I made him a beanbag chair and flew down to San Francisco in September 2001 with a bag and liner. I called all around and discovered a plastics place for the pellets.

The thing about filling beanbag chairs is that Styrofoam pellets have static. They stick to the plastic bag you’re emptying, to your hair, your clothes, to the bag you’re putting them in. We looked like a popcorn popper had run amuck with us inside it.

Once the bag was filled, planes flew into the World Trade Centers and my sister-in-law buried herself in the beanbag chair in front of the television. It was comforting: beanbag chairs hug back. She liked it. She said, “This is nice. You’ll have to make one for your brother some day.”

But now I have Netflix-flattened beanbag chairs, which means a Quest, a Quest for Pellets. I’ve been led on wild goose chases to Fred Meyer, Walmart, a bigger Walmart, a different Fred Meyer. Salespeople say, “Oh, yes, that’s in Crafts.” Crafts say, “We haven’t had them in years.” Salespeople in the front of the store have seen the pellets in the back of the store, but that is only a figment of their imagination. This happens in every store.

The Quest moves online, where – no, no, no! I’ve done this before! – I lose myself in the customer reviews of pellets.

This is too much complexity for my Covid brain. The floor is just fine.


  1. You have not found any replacement pellets? The local stores will not order them for you?

    1. Joann had them on order, but after reading all those reviews, I now have to figure out what kind Joann has. All those review opinions make it so daunting! Ziba, do I know you in real life?

  2. I was there in 2001 and saw that chair. I was amazed you actually made a bean bag chair.

    Would it be bad to order a new bean bag chair? We got one for Skip's granddaughter last year

  3. I've made THREE bean bag chairs, still have the pattern on brown paper. I bet she loves hers.

  4. She does. You need to get off the floor. It'll kill your back. you should use portable camping chairs

  5. We should start a charity; "Save the beanbag chairs!"


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