The Fantasy Chair

There was a touching moment last year when Gareth wanted to show me to his old high school. It was to be an incredible journey, he said. “It’s a bit of a walk; it’ll take us about forty minutes to get there”.

We trekked past abandoned Irn-Bru cans, Hula Hoop packets and graffitied fences then arrived, breathless with anticipation… in five minutes.

“Well it seemed like a long way when I was a student,” he said with a puzzled frown.

That was only the first surprise of the day. The second was that his beloved high school had been… completely demolished.

All he could do was stand in the rubble of his precious memories, and forlornly point out random spots now cluttered with cranes and building supplies. “That was where the music room was. I think. And that’s where we’d hang out at lunch. Maybe.”

You’ve never seen a more devastated face, I tell you.

In October we’re off to Australia for a few weeks, and it will be my turn for educational nostalgia. The canteen line where the skanky kids used to pester, “Have you got five cents?”. The science lab outside which a magpie shat on my shoulder. The basketball court where some boys asked if I was a redhead down there. And of course, the Fantasy Chairs.

Fantasy Chairs started out as regulation Australian government school chairs: red, orange or blue plastic, hard and unyielding and liable to stick to the back of your sweaty thighs on a scalding January afternoon. But then some obnoxious little shithead in Year 8 would decide to draw upon the seat of the chair, right at the very front in thick black permanent marker, a PENIS.

I was surprised when I started travelling overseas that there is a pretty much universal technique for graffitied blokey bits – the three scrawly loops, the middle one bigger and longer of course; and some short sharp lines if it’s a hairy specimen. They’re on the back of toilet doors; on the underpass near the train station. But I’ve never seen them on chairs anywhere aside from my alma mater.

I don’t know who started calling them Fantasy Chairs, but you can imagine how traumatic they could be for a teenage girl. In the earlier years of high school we had a growing interest in the accessories of the opposite sex, but this did not mean we wanted to SIT atop an artistic impression of one during double English. This often meant circling the classroom trying to find a Normal seat. If you were late to class then often you had little choice and were subject to the ridicule of your peers, “HA HA HA! You got a Fantasy Chair!”.

By the time we got to our senior years most people were totally over the Fantasy Chair thing, but me and my mates were particularly immature so if we struck gold we’d shout across the room with glee, “HA HA HA! I got a Fantasy Chair!”.

I remember rushing in for one of my Year 12 exams and there was a particularly large specimen scrawled on my seat. I smiled fondly and gave it a little pat for good luck.

The remains of Gareth's high school
The grim remains of Gareth's high school

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for December 2022.

22 thoughts on “The Fantasy Chair

  1. I am so very amused by the phrase “a scalding January afternoon”, ’cause the World, it’s all big and stuff!

    Every redhead I’ve ever known hates it, and every non-redhead I’ve ever known wants to be one.

  2. You seem to have it all figured out-it being life. I just finished my first year in college and I am in desperation because I’m scared I won’t find a husband. Not that this is the most important thing to me or anything but all my sweet college friends seem to be pairing off with guys and I’m kinda left in the dark thinking..hmm maybe I need a guy too. If i had it my way..i wouldn’t think about it at all and just focus on my studies..but i have raging hormones right now..seriously..everytime i see a man between the ages of 14 and 40.. i go CRAZY!! i mean they have to be decent looking and what not..except for my boss this summer..he’s not attractive at all and has a giant stick up his ass but there is something intriguing about it him. I’ll have you know that I am 19 years old and have never been kissed. I kinda started seeing this guy towards the end of the semester this year but I thought he was a complete pussy- you know the types that repeat everything you say as if its a question..for example..”hey i’m really tired” and his response “oh ur really tired???” I think another problem of mine is what my idea of a boyfriend is..I have this stupid idea in my head that i should only date guys that are marriage material..maybe that is the motherland mentality but i really can’t get rid of it..what to do??Anyways- i’m surrounded by college students this summer and I ran into my 10th grade crush..and can you believe i ended up offending him because i don’t believe that orthodox judaism is the only form of judaism..i’m not even jewish!!! anyways…i’m really scared i won’t find a guy. i’ve tried going clubbing but i just end up getting hit on by the sleeziest men you would ever see. i also tried friending my college tourguide on the facebook and we had a little online romance for a month while he was studying abroad in london but sadly that ended. so..what do you think i should do? should i follow the advice of diana ross..’hey there in you’ll just have to know love don’t come easy..its a game of give and take” or some shit like that. Oh and on top of that my parents say that if i don’t find anyone they’ll arrange me(half joking half not) but holy shit.. i don’t want to be arranged!!!
    I look forward to comments and bits of advice.
    Jai mata di- shelly

  3. I am a red-head and have always loved it. But I was a little surprised when I was about 32 and read on the bathroom wall when I was at work “Natasha” has a red bush”. I wondered how they knew?

  4. Every single chair at my high school (in Sydney) had the crude illustration you refer to – so that if your legs weren’t locked together you had the pleasure of seeing a couple of hairy plums and a stumpy sausage – courtesy of some pimply teen with an artline or posca.
    It definitely made parent teacher night more interesting. Mums, Dads and teachers weren’t sure where to look.

  5. Ah, teenage boy humour. One thing that transcends cultures. I went to a girls’ school latterly, so escaped that particular graffito (also our chairs were dark brown, so any graffiti had to be in Tipp-Ex, which is more labour-intensive).

    Shauny – did you have to wear uniform to school? I’ve just realised my knowledge of Australian schools comes entirely from “Neighbours” (sad, isn’t it?) and have always vaguely wondered if those cotton dresses are a Ramsay Street fiction…

    If you did, it can’t have been worse than mine was (and you’ve almost certainly seen my former school uniform on girls around town. It involves delightful red and blue kilts).

  6. Ha ha – look at you being asked for wise advice!

    We had exactly the same thing going on in my NSW school, if you were at class early you would switch chairs around like they were going out of style – never called them Fantasy Chairs though….. thats a bit pervy really….. you loved it!

    But you do have to give credit to those guys who put the extra effort in, redering a picture, if not authentically sized, then in proportion, taking care to include veins, hair and f.s. (surely that word would have to be ‘Questionable Content”!)

  7. no fantasy chairs around these parts, thank goodness – just goes to show you how wonderfully different the world is and how much you can learn from other cultures!

  8. LOVING the idea of fantasy chairs… I’m sure you could make a designer version and make millions. Still enjoying your writing, thankyou.

  9. from the comments so far it seems Fantasy Chairs are a New South Wales thing! Hehe. Still cracking up at Nikki’s comment.

    Shelley – are you for real? if so, help her out people. comments? advice? I hate to say it but I think Diana Ross is right!

  10. incidentally, this here chair would have to be the Ultimate Fantasy Chair, don’t you think? Either that or the Ultimate Nightmare Chair.

  11. I missed out on fantasy chairs, being at an all girls school and we also had the chairs in a beautiful 70’s brown. very prescient of the nuns! We had to white-out our boyfriend’s names on them, texta’s couldn’t cut it.

  12. Not much has changed in Sydney schools. There are still the scabs in the canteen lines asking for spare change (can anyone have spare money!?!) and the chairs still have whopping big members on them, right on the edge. 🙂

    some things never change.

  13. Actually, Shaunster, there are chairs in an erotica museum in Amsterdam that are WAY more fantasy-chair than that fantasy chair. You sit on the large round bits at the bottom and the rest curves high up overhead…and they vibrate…I’m still looking for the company that produced them. I think they’d look right classy in my living room.

  14. Same artwork was going on in the NT, but they weren’t called fantasy chairs there.

  15. So….bringing the beloved home to the motherland,eh?
    Better prepare him for the sight of all that endless BROWN stretching all the way to the horizon. Unlike the trauma site illustrated, (demo’d school)it is very dry and blowaway brown, because it DOES NOT RAIN HERE ANY MORE.
    Speaking of traumas revisited, my brush with coeducation did indeed include the fantasy chair diagram as well as the rule that if you wore school tights you were frigid, and if you wore socks, you were a SLUT! So you could alternate from one to the other,depending on the weather. That was long ago, back when it used to rain.

  16. Goshdangit that’s GENIUS!!! Especially given the scenario Nikki mentions, ohh the street cred points… wow.. my childhood now seems bereft of any inkling of graffiti-ist talent.

    I’m in awe.

    Well, technically speaking I’m in Glasgow but you know what I mean…

  17. fifi: it doesn’t rain, unless you live in a city, and then it DOES NOT STOP RAINING for days and days on end, and when you drive 20 minutes out of town it’s dry as a fricken bone. stupid, stupid weather.

  18. Shauna that chair looks awful…awfully intriguing, I wonder if the tongues flop when they rotate around and if they have different textures?

    VIC had the dantasty chairs too, although we didn’t call them this either, mostly they were just the ‘ick’ chairs and the girls in my classes used a policy of if you ignore them they will go away…well except for one of my friends who loved the damn things and would spend all class with her legs splayed open displaying her silky boxer drawer delights for all who glanced below the brown table-tops. Ye-eah, she was a popular one with the boys.

  19. We had those chairs too, but we didn’t have a name for them!

    I can empathise with Gareth, my beloved public school has recently been demolished and turned into a shopping mall. Gah.

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