2332: Cursed Chair
Title text: The Wirecutter staff called the Herman Miller Siege Perilous "the most cursed product we've ever had to fight" and "nearly as immortal as it boasts."
Beret Guy informs Cueball that he purchased a cursed office chair from a mysterious shop. Cueball isn't sure if he remembers this happening, which is possibly because Beret Guy has previously stated that he makes a habit of purchasing daily necessities from such stores. Beret Guy then exclaims that the store he bought the chair from was gone when he went to return it, though given his buying preferences, he should perhaps not be so surprised. Cueball suggests that maybe the shop was simply closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as is the case for wide variety of non-cursed businesses. Beret Guy takes this as proof that the chair somehow caused the pandemic, a claim Cueball meets incredulously. In the final panel, Beret Guy is doing battle with the chair, which taunts him and claims to be immortal (“I can not die”). In fact, most chairs cannot die, because they are not alive. Cueball remarks that it would be simpler to shop at IKEA, a store famous for its minimalist flat-pack furniture, and which does not sell cursed items (although they do sell “miniature Dyson spheres”).
The cursed chair and the boarded-up store are references to the stores that sell cursed items mentioned in 1772: Startup Opportunity. In that comic, the stores vanished without a trace. But the fact the door was boarded is much more likely due to the pandemic or other causes than the store mysteriously disappearing.
Buying an item from a shop you never noticed before, bringing it home, discovering it is cursed, and trying to return it only to discover the shop isn’t there anymore is a popular trope. See The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday.
In the title text, the Siege Perilous is the empty seat at the Round Table in Arthurian legend, reserved by Merlin for the knight who would find the Holy Grail (who turns out to be Sir Galahad) and fatal to anyone else who sits in it. Herman Miller is an American office furniture company that produced the Aeron chair, which is the basis for an artwork by Glenn Kaino called The Siege Perilous. Wirecutter is a website that evaluates and recommends consumer products. From the title text, it sounds like (in the xkcd universe) Wirecutter is used to encountering cursed products, so they didn’t even bother trying to sit in it to test the Siege Perilous’s perilousness (er, peril) before they started fighting it—and emerged victorious, if it’s only nearly as immortal as it boasts.
- [Beret Guy and Cueball are talking.]
- Beret Guy: Remember how I bought my desk chair from that mysterious shop?
- Cueball: I think so?
- Beret Guy: Turns out the chair was cursed.
- [Beret Guy and Cueball are still talking. Beret Guy has his palms out.]
- Beret Guy: So I went back to return it, but the shop was gone! The door was boarded up!
- Cueball: I think most of the shops are closed because of coronavirus.
- [Beret Guy has his hands over his mouth in shock.]
- Beret Guy: Oh no!
- Beret Guy: The curse must have caused the pandemic!
- Cueball (off-panel): What.
- [Beret Guy starts running with a raised sword in a frameless panel. Cueball is next to him.]
- Beret Guy: If I destroy the chair, we can stop the virus!
- Cueball: What.
- [Beret Guy is chasing a floating desk chair. Cueball is watching. The desk chair speaks with white-on-black text.]
- Beret Guy: Die, plague-bringer!
- Desk chair: Hee hee I can not die
- Cueball: Maybe you should just shop at IKEA.
- The hotlink image for the comic was initially extremely pixelated, but the image displayed on the page was a different URL and looked fine. This was soon fixed.
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