Greetings, and welcome back. Today is a very special and long-awaited day, because today is the day that I’m gonna fill you in on yet another NI quirk — soft seats. There is no exact American translation of “soft seat,” but it’s basically exactly what it sounds like: a squishy, comfortable place to sit. A pew is not a soft seat. A folding chair is not a soft seat. Sofa, yes. Armchair, yes. Restaurant booth, yes.
Soft seats are a national obsession. The fact that people here have a phrase for them shows you how effing integral they are to life. Like the moth to the flame, Northern Irish butts gravitate helplessly toward soft seats. I triple dog dare you to try to force an NI person to sit on a hard surface. It’s like trying to make two positively-charged magnets kiss each other (GEEK PATROL).
Go to any public seating area with a Northern Irish person, and you will see. OH, YOU WILL SEE. They’ll frantically scan the place once, twice, three times, in search of a soft seat. If they are successful, they’ll say, “let’s take the soft seats!” or “oh good, soft seats,” then scramble over as fast as they can.
If there aren’t any, however…
“No soft seats?” they’ll whisper in panicked disbelief. Engulfed in despair, they’ll reluctantly join you in a wooden seat. They won’t listen to anything you say, though, because they’ll be too busy watching the entire time to see if anyone is leaving their soft seat.
If such an opportunity does arise, WATCH OUT, because NOTHING is gonna come between your companion and that damn soft seat. Pack it up, people—we’re moving everything to the soft seat.
Soft seats are also an integral factor in home entertaining. Stay with me, because imma take you on a semi-related tangent of NI social norms. The NI dinner party formula: let’s break it down!
If you’re lucky enough to be invited to an NI person’s house for dinner, you’d best be bringing some drank. That’s the entrance fee. Also, wear layers that you can take off throughout the evening. In winter, people think it’s super fun to crank the heat up to tropical levels just for kicks. “It’s snowing outside and I have heatstroke! Ain’t life grand?!”
Dinner is eaten at the dining room table, natch, and dessert is served there as well. GET THIS THO, cause this is where it the formula never fails: after dessert is finished, the host will suggest “moving to a soft seat.”
Urrbody gets up and moves into another room at this point — the room of abundant soft seats. And it is unfailingly here where guests drink their tea or coffee, and biscuits/chocolates are passed around. ALWAYS. If you try to drink tea and eat a digestive at the table, the house will spontaneously combust. Best to do it in a soft seat like a real person.
“But Americans like soft seats toooooo,” you protest. Yeah, well, we don’t have a name for them so we are immune to criticism. Also, my experience in America is largely that people continue to talk at the table well after dessert. We’re lazy; we don’t move for anything—not even a soft seat. USA! USA!
From the softest seat in the house,