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Wanna (Ti)Bet That You’re Wrong?

, , , , | Friendly | November 22, 2019

(My sister-in-law has some of the oddest friends, but none odder than this one. She is one of those people that knows everything about everything whether she is familiar with the subject or not. My brother has inherited an upholstered chair from my great aunt, with designs carved into its wooden trim and legs. The designs are of monkeys and camels. According to my aunt, it was a “soap chair” — her reference, not mine. All that means is that one of the relatives, as a child, had gotten the chair by selling so much soap for some company. If you sold a specific number of bars, one of the prizes you could choose from the company catalog was this chair. It was selected by–  I THINK — her younger brother as a gift for their mother. It’s not valuable by a long shot. One night, my sister-in-law and her friends are visiting and this friend sees the chair.)

Sister-In-Law’s Friend: *to my sister-in-law* “That chair is very valuable; where did you get it? I am sure it’s a Tibetan chair, probably from the temple of the Dalai Lama.”

Sister-In-Law: “What makes you say that?”

Sister-In-Law’s Friend: *indicates the camels carved into the trim and the monkeys carved into the legs* “They would have carved the animals from their country into the chair. This material on the cushions is very oriental-looking.”

(I have had enough; my father reupholstered the chair using material purchased at a local fabric store. I wait for her to take a breath, and I explain the story of my aunt and her brother selling soap and getting enough points to get the chair.)

Me: “In 1907, according to my aunt, monkeys and camels were a very popular motif on furniture. And Dad reupholstered the chair for her five years ago, remember, [Sister-In-Law]? It’s not from Tibet.”

(The whole assemblage stared at me as if I had just suggested we go strangle animals then turned back to my sister-in-law’s friend and asked more questions about the Dalai Lama. They started going on about how she was so much smarter than everyone else and wasn’t it wonderful that she was able to advise my sister-in-law about the chair so it could be evaluated by an antiques dealer. That was when I excused myself and walked back to my parents’ house where I told them all about the valuable Tibetan Temple Chair that my father had apparently never reupholstered. My father just shook his head and said something about people who thought a great deal of themselves and how stupid they really were. It was kind of a relief when my brother and his wife divorced and we were able to get rid of [Sister-In-Law’s Friend], too.)

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