Sep 30, 2008

Ann Tancio


Sumo Sac Gigantic Bean Bag: Awesome

When I was small, I had a beanbag that weighed — I’m guessing — 15 or 20 pounds, covered in green velvety material and filled with white polystyrene beads. It was a yard-sale find (probably nothing like sanitary) that my brother and I shared starting when I was probably five or six years old. I ended up the usual steward and main user. In fact, since I had second choice on the bunkbed, being younger, and was therefore stuck on the lower bunk, I made that lower bunk into a fortified cave of pillows (more than 10 of them), a featherbed that probably had came down in the family for generations, and my big green beanbag. I would typically sleep under almost all of those things, except for five or six pillows that kept me propped up in a near-sitting position. My arms and head were free (so I could read, flashlight in hand), with the rest of my body basically immobile, snugged down beneath sheets, blankets, featherbed, beanbag and all those pillows. In sum, all this stuff weighed more than I did until 4th or 5th grade at least, and I enjoyed the sensation of being weighed down by it all.

Now, I’m not representing a kid-trappng bunk-bed cave as a great idea or universal preference, but it’s the way I liked it. At the time, that green bag seemed huge, since it *was* big enough to flop my whole body down on, or wriggle under, and it formed an integral part of the closet fittings when both siblings and I would squeeze into a closet for clandestine televsion-and-snacks sessions, watching M#A#S#H on the 5″ black-and-white television I got one early Christmas. With my collected bedding supplies, three kids could all flop, watch and nosh in claustrophobic comfort. The beads in my old bag leaked, sure, but it took many years before the bag finally disappeared completely, and involvement in dozens of pillowfights certainly didn’t do it any good.

Almost 30 years later, I finally have a beanbag-style chair — not filled with beans or beads, though — called the Sumo Sac (courtesy of Sumo Lounge) that makes me realize how insubstantial that old green one actually was. It’s a comfortable spot from which to type, though it makes falling asleep unexpectedly a serious danger.

The Sumo Sac comes in a deceptively small box — smaller by far than expected! — but heavy. (The bags are shipped vacuum-packed to save on freight costs; they’re shipped by FedEx.) On opening, it also seemed a bit uneven and lumpy. In short, it was a disappointment. But disappointment was eclipsed by joy: over the next couple of days, the bag started to recover from the trauma of shipping. It grew. And grew. The Sumo bags are filled with chunks of shredded urethane, which give it a different texture than the ones filled with actual beads — more like an “egg crate” mattress topper. This is, now, a beanbag that reminds me a bit of Jabba the Hutt — without an unlimited budget and my own urethane factory, I have trouble imagining wanting a bigger bean bag than this one, and I’m nearly 200 pounds large. Now that it’s grown to its full size, I doubt I could even fit this one into the back of my Subaru wagon, though it might be a fun exercise to attempt.

The sample I’ve got is a pleasant light tan (or off-off-white, maybe), and it’s not the slick vinyl texture that makes some beanbags unpleasant, but instead a nice low-nap, velour-feeling cover (nicer than my old green one, even) called micro suede. The cover is removable (zippered) and washable. Because of an enthusiastic, real-estate oriented dog, I can attest that it cleans up pretty well in the washing machine after a dog has claimed it in the usual way that dogs lay claim.

Thus far, the cover’s also done a pretty good job of containing the abuse that dozens of leapers have inflicted. See, it’s the rare visitor who can see this bag and not spontaneously launch themselves into it, whether it’s a belly flop or a backwards leap of faith. The sensation is addictive, like having a very small bungie-jumping setup.

Today, I’m typing from within the bag — “within” seems the right word, too, because I sink pretty substantially into the center after my own backwards leap. Since this is a big round bag of squishy urethane, it’s bring-your-own neck support, though, so I’ve got a buckwheat-hull pillow under my head.

And last night, I slept on a futon (no bunk bed being handy, and no closet in the house large enough), with the Sumo Sac on top of me, which resulted in one of the best nights of sleep I’ve had in a long time, and I plan to do the same tonight.

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