Part of the new home ownership into which we have recently entered concerns outdoor furniture.  Being twenty-somethings with no kids, we turned first to IKEA for our seating needs.

We ended up buying five pieces from one designer.  We are now the proud owners of an Äpplarö drop leaf table, two reclining chairs and two benches.  The table extends to seat up to ten (assuming they all get along relatively well) though the people who end up sitting in our blue fabric camping chairs look a little bit like small children.  They basically end up with their faces pretty much at table level.

The furniture came with the instruction that it ought to be treated with oil in order to maintain the finish and help stop it splitting terribly.  It is made of teak and had a light brown stain on it.  I used Olympic water seal (basically linseed oil and naptha) and gave everything a generous coating.  I have enough of the water seal to last for several years or, alternatively, I can buy about 200 people’s worth of seating and tables and treat it all.

We have yet to pick up cushions for any of the chairs and we still lack an umbrella but I’ll be passing IKEA this week so the umbrella situation should be rectified in fairly short order.  The chairs are quite comfortable for a short time but any long-term sitting results in discomfort.

The benches are of such a length that two people can sit on them and not be mashed together (unless they choose to be mashed).  When they are tucked into the table, though, one’s freedom is controlled to a large extent by the level of coöperation available from one’s benchmate.  Simply put, the benches won’t move if there are two people sitting there and only one person is pushing back.  Ditto for forward movement.  These humble seats force a level of teamwork and relationship building that is simply not present in your common chair.  There are a few ways to secure the required locomotion:

1.  The Countdown

This is my preferred means.  One or the other participant gives a countdown (or a count up, if one is using the Australian rules) and then both push back and rise or pull in together.  Effective but not flashy.

2.  The Tussle

This is not as efficient as the above Countdown.  One person starts to stand and realizes the thing won’t move.  He or she is abruptly forced to take a seat again due to simple leverage.  Unfortunately, the other participant has by now noticed the intent to move and has tried to move as well.  Since they are in a figurative sine/cosine relationship vis-à-vis standing/sitting, the bench moves in fits and spurts if at all and not in the smooth and pleasant motion most conducive to peace.

3.  The Uncanny

This is one where, with no apparent communication, both parties rise and push back or sit and pull forward at precisely the same moment.  It is a very rare case and the slightest miscue on either side results in a number two which is all the more awkward because of what could have been.

In this way, our simple benches serve to reinforce strong relationships and further sunder unstable ones.  It is the threshing flail of friendship.

no one could express