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Jackie Hope: BarcaLoungers, as American as football and apple pie

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columns Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

What's more American than football and apple pie? BarcaLoungers!

BarcaLounger.com tells us their company started in the 1940s and has inclined toward recliners ever since.

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There are no fewer than 80 models to choose from on that website and they range from puffy brown fabric to puffy brown leather, with a little edgy black upholstery thrown in for the daring decorator. These boys totally ooze middle American comfort from their tuck-and-roll neck supports to their outstretched and over-stuffed leg rests.

Come on, who didn't have a lounger in his rec room back in the day? Show of hands. Don't be shy. And who still has one? Yep, just about everybody. Bet some of you are still using the same recliner from yesteryear because when you get the seat cushion all contoured and broken in to fit your, uh, seat, it is hard to trade that recliner in for a new one.

These big fellas have now come into their own with the advent of widescreen TV's and home theaters, and they are the mainstream piece of furniture when you are streaming digital programming.

Basement tailgaters can kick back in their loungers and enjoy seats on the sidelines, season tickets to the best seats in the house with easy access to liquid refreshment and buffalo wings. Hey, have you seen the saddlebag thingys you can sling over the lounger's arm? Those genius gadgets have cup holders and pockets for the remotes as well as ginormous pockets to hold wireless tablets, back issues of Sports Illustrated or family-sized sacks of Cheetos, depending on your halftime tastes.

And then there are those tray tables you can roll up and cantilever over your midsection, enabling you to eat buffalo wings without dropping any sauce on your Adrian Peterson jersey. That is, you can position the tray over your midsection provided your midsection has not advanced into overtime or extra innings or is not otherwise blocking your view of the screen when you kick back all the way. Of course, if you are wearing an Aaron Rodgers jersey just go ahead and spill barbecue sauce all over the darned thing.

BarcaLoungers have not always been environmentally friendly. In a less enlightened time, BarcaLoungers were upholstered in Naugahyde. As shocking as it now seems, once upon a time Naugas were hunted for their hides.

The United States Rubber Company, who pioneered the use of Naugahyde, tried to hide the stigma by spelling the word as "hyde," but activists knew the ugly truth. In the 1960s and 70s an advertising campaign was mounted, to convince the public that Naugas shed their skins regularly, and only those sloughed off skins were used as upholstery material. But who has seen a free-ranging Nauga in recent years? Were they hunted to extinction? Mercifully, BarcaLounger has shed its Jekyll-and-Hyde image and now upholsters in pleather.

Did you know there are frou-frou versions of BarcaLoungers? The Chippendale styles have curved and carved legs with those little ballies on the feet, and they are buttoned and tufted instead of tucked and rolled. More like the inside of a Rolls Royce, rather than a 1958 Buick or an El Camino. And bonus, the velour upholstery fabric acts as a giant lint brush. Just smoosh around and wiggle a little in the seat and all the dog and cat hair comes off your trousers and clings to the chair. Maybe that is why the default colors of loungers are brown or black, matching most dogs and cats.

And what about those double-wide loungers, the ones that unfold to the size of a heliport? Man, plop a couple of those in your den, add a wall-mounted widescreen and a mini-fridge and you have your own luxury box.

OK, here we have to offer a safety disclaimer: loungers are not "one size fits all." Some of us are not 6-feet tall, or even 5½-feet tall. Some of us have slipped off the seat of a lounger and landed in that little hammocky piece of cloth that is slung between the seat and the footrest. You know that hammocky thing? It is a great storage place for out-of-season Christmas decorations or for a salami sandwich if you are watching late-night TV. Anyway, be aware that the hammocky thing in a double-wide can catch the unwary sitter whose legs are not long enough to stretch out onto the footrest. And it is a real chore to get out again, without the lounger closing up tight around you. Don't ask.

So what are you doing Sunday afternoon? The Packers play the Bengals and the Browns are at the Metrodome so hey, the Vikes have a chance.

Grab a cold beverage, nuke a plate of wings, kick back in the lounger and enjoy. Unless you are no taller than 5-foot-3, in which case you'd better play it safe and curl up in a bean bag chair.

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