“It is better to have loafed and lost than never to have loafed at all” – James Thurber


I think Thurber’s observation is more apt for the older crowd than for you youngsters, who have lots of time ahead of you to perfect your loafing skills. Meanwhile, don’t you need to get to work and contribute to the Social Security and Medicare funds that your elders rely on? Go on, now. A grateful nation is depending on you.

The importance of quality loafing came up the other day at a lunch counter where the relative merits of the chaise lounge and the Lazy Boy recliner were being thoroughly aired. Out of the blue comes this fresh-faced agent provocateur who undertakes to correct our grammar by pointing out that the proper usage is the French phrase, “chaise longue”; the “chaise” meaning “chair” and the “longue” meaning “long.” It seems we have taken the “longue” and scrambled up the letters to get “lounge”.  Naturally we thanked the insolent young whelp for his valuable insights and went right back to discussing our chaise lounges. Shouldn’t you be working too, Frenchy?

The chaise lounge seems like a seasonal piece of furniture to be used out of doors, while your recliner works year round and is connected one might say umbilically to the television. There are even models with armrest compartments for your various remote control devices. “Cliqueurs” for our pal, Pierre. This gives it a leg up (or two, in full recliner mode) over the chaise, although if you throw in a swimming pool, a long island iced tea and some Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models, the Idler would certainly give the chaise a “longue-r” look.

Which brings me to the ottoman, an obsolete and nearly functionless item which, oddly, seems to have had its own empire. My understanding of the Ottoman empire is that it just sort of disappeared during or after World War I for reasons which I am too lazy to look up. They did once have a guy named “Suleiman the Magnificent,” so they win the award for coolest monarch moniker, but beyond that, I’d have to speculate. One theory I made up is that they were so comfortable luxuriating like pashas with their feet up on ottomans that they simply lost the will to fight. Another is that the upper classes used the lower classes as footrests, which is bound to stir up some resentment, especially during “Law & Order” marathons. Even though you don’t see them anymore, ottomans (ottomen?) were once found in everybody’s grandma’s home, and it’s where kids ended up when the adults had docked for the evening on all the formal seating. I saw more than a few episodes of The Ed Sullivan Show perched on one. Speaking of youth and ottomans, I just remembered that the Ottoman Empire was overthrown by a group of youthful revolutionaries known as the “young turks.” That’s the trouble with youthful enthusiasm –  they went and took a perfectly happy empire, relaxing contentedly with its feet up and minding its own business, and got it all riled up. Something like our chaise longue buddy. They should have given the “young turks” the chaise electrique.

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