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Score Card: Technology, 1; Peaches, 0

Peaches had a little contretemps with the world of technology the other night. Actually, the only one of the household who isn’t beset by falls, trips and stumbles is Patsy. Even Mrs. Goldfarb, the old lady cat, is a bit of a klutz.

Peaches often tries to jump on a bed or a chair and misses and then she looks furtively over her shoulder to see if anyone has been watching and we all whistle and look at the ceiling.

The other day, she was trying to jump on a bed in the guest room and overshot. She went down between the bed and the wall. All that was visible was the fluffy top of her blonde head and her two forepaws, frantically clawing at the bedspread. I had to haul her out, which humiliated her so she went in the closet for an hour.

But last night’s disaster was a rouser. Since I had the knee replacement last summer in which the doctor took out my knee and put in a set of microwave-safe bowls, as nearly as I can determine, it does not work exactly as it used to.

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I can no longer dance the Sugar Plum Fairy. And I certainly cannot do the cancan, at least not the one I used to do in the black velvet dress with the 24-gore skirt and the fuchsia ruffled tulle petticoats. That was the one where I did the 20 consecutive pointes. I also wore a black velvet scoop bonnet with fuchsia ostrich tips on the underside of the brim.

Ah, well, other places, other ways. Now, I clomp from room to room in shoes as flat as a halibut and with about as much charm.

But you would be amazed at the things they have invented for those of us who don’t get around much anymore. One of them is a chair. You have seen them pictured in the back of magazines along with ads for kits teaching you how to tie your own trout flies. There is usually a picture of a lady or gentleman in a half crouch as if he or she were ready to leap across the room. I believe that it is the husband or wife of the lady or gentleman who was often shown sailing grandly up the staircase in a one-seat elevator attached to a track in the wall.

I bought one of the chairs the other day. Mine is wonderfully comfortable and covered in Pullman blue velvet. Quite handsome, really.

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There is a cord with a small control panel on one side of the chair, saying, not surprisingly, Up or Down. Here is how it works. If you wish to be seated, you push the Up button and the seat of the chair rises slowly until it is on about a 45-degree plane. You kind of lean into it and push the Down button. This lowers the seat and you along with it. After a short time, the seat is in the position of a normal armchair. Continue to push the Down button and a leg rest in two sections raises up, lifting your legs along with it.

Here’s the danger. In order to get out of the chair, I must push the button that says Up. I can see that you are getting the problem. When the Up button activates its set of gears and ratchets, the first thing that happens is that the two-part leg rest lowers itself firmly with the strength of a pair of Percherons, against the front of the chair. Note that in order for the leg rest to go down, you have pushed the Up button. When the leg rest is down, the seat starts to rise.

Last night I pushed the Up button and the leg rest started down. At the same time there was a terrible scrabbling noise, which was Peaches kicking with all four legs. She had been napping under the raised leg rest. My mind, usually as alert as a Caltech magna cum laude, was convinced that in order to release the dog and raise the leg rest, thus stopping the snapping of her bones, I should push the Up button. Wrong. I should have pushed the Down button, which would have raised the leg lift. The inside of this chair has enough machinery to build a diesel train and have enough stuff left over for a trestle.

I finally had enough sense to stop pushing either button until I could collect my wits. In the meantime, Patsy sprang across the room and with the strength of 10 because of her pure heart, raised that brute of a chair off poor Peaches. Happily, she was unharmed but she would not come near me nor the chair for the rest of the night.

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Patsy was the heroine and we all thank her for her superhuman strength, like those stories in the paper that tell of the 5-foot, 90-pound lady who lifts the automobile off a kitten. She was really wonderful.

During the time the seat was elevated and slanted, Mrs. Goldfarb jumped up and you have never seen such a surprised cat in your life. She hung on with her claws extended and her legs braced and the look on her face that said quite plainly, “This is the dumbest chair I have ever seen. No one can sit and stand at the same time.”

I do think the chair people are going to have to put an additional button on the control panel that says, “Push Up button to raise seat except when dog is inside chair. In which case, push Down.”


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