The Case of the Creaking Chair

The chair exercise class in the retirement home often provides some great entertainment. When 30 or 40 would-be body-builders of average age 80 get together to exercise you can bet on a good laugh somewhere in the room. The instructor, a slim, athletic woman, does every exercise herself so that the class can see and follow the movements. So ‘arms horizontal’ means arms go everywhere except horizontally. Likewise, every exercise is interpreted differently by every exerciser. Confusion between right and left limbs is common.

I sat at the back the other day, did the exercises and watched the proceedings. It was hard to believe that there was someone demonstrating the movements at all… Then came the noise of a creaking chair. The sturdy chairs are made of a dense plastic with an attached seat. They are heavy chairs and built for heavy-duty use – and there are a few ‘heavies’ in the class. The chair in front of me developed a creak as the woman in it, who I recognized from the third floor, moved. The creak came in perfect time with her movements.

She looked puzzled for a while, frowning as though trying to determine where the creak was coming from. Finally the penny dropped – her own chair. She apologized and continued exercising, from time to time turning to smile to those sitting near to her. The class ended, we all stood up, thankful that the torture was over, and filed out.

I decided to take the stairs one floor up to the lounge for a much needed cup of coffee. There was that noise again, behind me this time. I glanced back and there she was, creaking each time she raised her foot to the next step. I knew all along that the chair wasn’t creaking…


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