SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

The Big Recliner In The Sky
By Dave Kiffer


November 24, 2006
Friday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska - A gentleman in Pacheco, California had a lot to be thankful for last week.

jpg Dave Kiffer

It seems his wife shot him with a .357 Magnum. But he was saved. By his recliner.

Okay, you may laugh. Especially the women out there who think their husbands have actually become "one" with their recliners after decades of "sitting."

After all, the guy WAS watching a football game at the time (but it couldn't have been the 49ers or the Raiders. He would have shot himself).

But that's the not the kicker. The husband swears it was an accident. Did I tell you, the wife fired not once, but twice?

Anyway, according to the Contra Costa Times, 67-year-old Norman Kamp was "camped" out watching football in his leather recliner - no word if it was a Lay-Z-Boy, Barcalounger or the Ambassador Dual Motor Electric Riser - when his wife who was "on pain medication for severe arthritis and drinking alcohol" began "fiddling" with the handgun in their dining room, some 20 feet away.

The gun accidentally - so she says - went off and the bullet traveled into the back of the recliner, was slightly deflected by the metal in the chair and glanced off the man's head, giving him a superficial wound.

The man got up from his chair, approached his wife, and said "hey, you shot me."

That was when the woman fired again, this time into the dining room ceiling.

Police arrested the wife, 58-year-old Jan Kamp, and charged her with attempted murder. The charge has since been downgraded to assault with a deadly weapon because they say at the least she was negligent with the gun.

I'll say.

Police tend to view "accidental" spousal shootings with a more jaundiced eye than the rest of us. In my memory there have been at least three "accidental" spousal gun "incidents" in Ketchikan and all three ended up in court (two guiltys, one acquittal).

The California husband "stands" by his wife (a gunshot is one way to his rotund bottom out of the danged chair!) and says it was an accident, as does the couple's daughter.

Fine. Truth is stranger than fiction.

But it was good to hear that a recliner can apparently be a life saver.

Even thought I am not old enough own a recliner, this story does interest me.

Seriously, recliners are not something that my generation ever put much thought into, other than as something that our parents and grandparents seemed inordinately attached to. (sentence ending preposition, so shoot me!)

Recliners are for "sedate" people and those of us in the last wails of the baby-boomer generation are not "sedate" right? We are active in the extreme! We demand climbing walls on cruise ships for goodness sake!

My parents house was not one of those with the dual recliners perched like two sovereign kingdoms facing the TV, but only because my parents were almost never home at the same time (my father was rarely home at all, but that's another story. Besides, he preferred the couch anyway).

But my Aunt's house in Seattle was definitely outfitted with the overstuffed, battleship sized recliners for the King and Queen to peruse the television offerings before spending quality time checking their eyelids for cracks.

Once I made the mistake of plopping my four or five year old "heinie" into my uncle's "throne." I only did that once. My bottom still throbs at the memory.

So in some recesses of my mind, recliners are not good things. Certainly not as good as couches which take away all pretense of doing anything beside napping after assuming the prone position.

But as I get older, I am beginning to see some value in recliners. And not just for self defense.

A few weeks ago, Tongass Trading had one of those mass furniture sales and we went to see if anything good was available. Charlotte was looking at end tables and lamps and twin beds (upgrade for Liam).

After a few minutes of saying "that's nice" I was worn out and naturally sat down. In a leather recliner. Oooohhhhh!!!!!!

There was a whole line of leather recliners. I tried them all. For the first time ever, I wasn't in a hurry to leave a furniture sale. Ooohhhhh!!!

I also tried several bottom plants on the various couches for sale, but they were the overstuffed variety and not as much fun. I felt like I was sitting on them, rather than in them. In fact, I had the odd sensation I was about to fall off each one.

With the recliners, though, I was definitely sitting in them. So much so that it was somewhat physically difficult to egress. Fortunately, modern recliner manufacturers have solved that problem. They install these special little catapults to fling recalcitrant rears into an upright position. I used to think those "springs" were only for the elderly or the infirm, but as I approach 50 I believe, to quote Pogo, I am "meeting the enemy" and "he is us."

At the same time, though, recliner purveyors also seem to be offering even more reasons to stay put.

Recliners aren't just for comfort anymore. In my Uncle Milt's day, the high point in recliner accessory was the little bag that held the TV remote and the copy of TV Guide. He modified it slightly to hold a couple of Raniers as well.

Aunt Dot, also had a small TV tray that attached to the arms of the chair so she could do puzzles or have a snack without resting it on her lap.

But we have gone far beyond that minor "accessorizing" in today's world.

For example, if you don't want to get up and go to the fridge, you don't have to. Some higher end recliners now come with small fridges built into the base. Just enough to hold - and chill - a six pack. Which gets most football fathers through the first half at least.

Modern recliners also come with cup holders and - this is really cool - they even have little massagers to keep the bum happy during long time outs and overtimes!

Now all you need is something to eliminate those inconvenient trips to the bathroom. After all, it seems like the bladder only gets painfully full when it's fourth and goal to go.

Recliners need something along the lines of those odd little products they sell for truck drivers. And the drain plug needs to be in back so the spouse won't block your view during the draining.

Something like that would just about make the modern recliner the most perfect invention since the twist off bottle cap.

Perhaps, though, it would help to add a thin layer of Kevlar to the top of the recliner,.

Just in case "the little woman" goes ballistic like the one in Pacheco.

No one wants their last words to be " Hey Hon, get me another sandwich, will ya?"


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2006

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