Petersen: How to extricate oneself from chairs and couches
October 5, 2018
You may or may not be swimming in the Ocean of Dotage. If you are, you might identify with the following excerpt from How to Be Elderly, A User's Guide, Volume One — a small book I penned way back when I began sliding down the over-the-hill trail.
How to Extricate Oneself from Low Chairs and Couches — 101.
Upon entering a room, the first thing you should do is eyeball the available seating. Should you spot a straight-back chair, shuffle toward it as fast as gimpy knees will allow. Avoid lushly upholstered furniture into which your superannuated form will indubitably sink like a rock. Too often, a host or hostess, thinking to be kind to a venerable person such as yourself, will insist you take the "comfortable" spot on the couch.
At first, sitting on a comfy couch is heaven. It cushions and soothes all your hurting places like sitting in a bowl of gentle mush. But soon, your legs begin to swell, or your bad hip chooses the moment to have an ouch attack, or — worst of all — you get a sharp call from nature and realize you must rise as quickly as possible.
“If there are other people in the room, this action is not attractive and may cause a round of gasping chortles.”
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However, your posterior has burrowed deeply into the couch and likes it there. To uproot your carcass from the couch's velvet jaws, you must rely on your leg muscles' ability to gather together in a get-up stance and hoist you. Unfortunately, your nether extremities, these days, exist only to provide you with height when or if you finally achieve standing position.
If the couch or chair has been constructed so that the seat-part is reasonably high off the floor, scoot to the forward edge, spread your feet in a wide-ish stance, place your hands flat on the couch or chair cushion on either side of yourself and push downward while your body tries to straighten up. Sometimes this action ends successfully. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you must repeat the push and pump action, like double-clutching a tractor.
Should these efforts fail completely, leaving you squirming on the couch like an expiring amoeba, try the following: Scrunch and bounce sideways to the end of the sofa where you can utilize the arm-rest to shove and pull yourself to vertical. If the arm-rest is too low to offer a purchase, go back to the beginning and start over.
If you remain trapped on the couch, don't give up hope. Stretch out full length, face down and stretching out the arm lying at edge of couch, plant your hand flat on the floor. Next, gently scoot yourself over the edge, allowing one knee and one foot to brace your body — kinda like propping a chair under a doorknob. Then, like an inch worm, hump forward the knee that's touching the floor till you can gradually bring it into a position where you can sort of hydraulic yourself upward. If there are other people in the room, this action is not attractive and may cause a round of gasping chortles. You may also hear the clicking of cameras.
Assorted styles of couches, sofas, daybeds, davenports and chairs may require adjustments in technique, but do not despair. You might get lucky. Last week I found $1.49 in couch change. ❖