Half brother Jack Clark, with Beer - 1972

Why is this Polaroid photo in the collection? Could it be to illustrate Jack's Quiana shirt and fashionable belt? Well, no. It's that red sofa I mentioned earlier. It's indistinct, but the design is of little inn signs, clipper ships, beehives, compasses, rifles, antiques and other bits of Americana. We had five or six sofas of this exact type in our home at various times during my childhood. They were all cheap. That's why we had so many - we were always replacing them. (The smart buy furniture once, the Clarks buy replacement furniture yearly.) We never, ever reupholstered a piece of furniture.

This particular sofa met its demise one evening during a social function. Mom was sitting on one end of it, and a hefty neighbor from across the street (she and her husband bought the charcoal-colored house after the Springers moved out), was sitting at the other end. Dad wanted to sit between them, and performed his usual drop-into-position seating style - the long, agonizing death to many an armchair in our house. Since both my parents were quite overweight - and the neighbor was no ballet dancer herself - the sofa broke. Already supporting nearly 500 pounds on the extremities, the frame couldn't stand another 200+ pounds dropped onto the middle so the frame gave way with a mighty CRAACCKK!, and Levitz had another customer. Being a tactless teenager, I laughed. (Being an even more tactless adult, I post the story to the World Wide Web.)

We got rid of the sofa but kept the cushions (of course - we always kept the cushions). I think they were used to make another cheap sofa more comfortable. Anyway, I remember seeing them around at various places in the house, dirty and always in the way. They too ended up in the back yard.

A Little Story About Becoming One's Father

I was sitting in the big boss' reception room with my supervisor and his deputy, waiting for the boss' arrival. We were chatting about Avocado Memories, in particular the story about the way my father had plunked down into the sofa and cracked it. My listeners found the story funny, as most do when I relate it. To better illustrate my dad's drop-into-position seating style, I stood up and performed it on the brand new sofa. (I had earlier commented about how new, firm and comfortable the sofa was, and how rarely we had had sofas that felt this way in my house.)

While I do have a few extra pounds on me, people would not describe me as being "obese." (I am 6'4" and currently 260 pounds.) Most people seeing me simply call me "a big guy." Naturally, however, when I landed a sudden CRAACCKK! sounded, and I saw the heads of three of the secretaries in the room pop up over their computers to ask, "What was that?" My audience, who were merely amused before, were now red-faced with laughter. Needless to say, I was also red faced, and lamely attempted to show that the sofa was undamaged by sitting toward the front, where I wouldn't sink in, and chose to act as though nothing had happened.

I wasn't able to pull the charade off, however, because a day or two later my boss showed me an email from the guy responsible for furniture indicating that a certain unnamed member of the staff (whew!) had sat down "a wee bit hard" and damaged the sofa, and that it was being fixed. To complete my humiliation he mentioned that a spring was sticking out from under the sofa.

Prior to this occurrence I would respond to the party game question, "What was your most embarrassing moment?" with the story of how I once backed a new Cadillac Eldorado in a dealer lot (my mom had requested that I drive, citing concerns about manipulating a big car around in a small lot) smack into the front of a Corvette, crumpling the pointed nose. I now have a new story.

So anyway, wherever you are, Dad, yuck it up. I began appreciating Frank Sinatra's music a few years back; with this my transition is complete. I am now my father. If you're a young person reading this, just wait -- your time is coming.

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