My end table sighed and leaned slowly forward.
“Not again,” I complained.
He wouldn’t listen.
For a moment, his legs stuttered across the carpet as he twisted sideways and tried to catch himself – but it was no use.
He slapped the floor hard.
My reading lamp crashed against the wall, my novel skidded under the couch and my bottle of beer bounced off to God knows where.
He does that now and then – this collapsing thing.
It is not that I ask too much of him – just to bear the meager weight of a reading lamp, a paperback and a bottle of beer. Still, my end table cannot manage even that for long.
Perhaps it is because time has its own weight and given enough of it, even a small load can become too much for the strongest of objects. But well before that, my end table simply gives up and falls over. It is then that I take him apart, apply fresh glue to his joints and set him back on his feet.
I have a lot of stuff like that.
My reading lamp blinks on and off for no apparent reason. My coffee pot has its moods. My snowblower is downright rebellious. Yet I remain loyal to all of these things despite their bad habits.
You might say we are family.
The coffee pot and snowblower are recent additions but the end table and I go way back. Back to the days when an old girlfriend left me.
Leaving me would not be so bad – if it was only she who left – but my stuff went with her. All my appliances, both major and minor, followed her out the door and the furniture wasn’t far behind.
She cleaned me out so thoroughly that she stripped the contact paper off the closet shelves – but being cleaned out was not the worst of it.
The worst was being cleaned out – literally.
She scrubbed the floors.
She dusted the windows.
She brushed away every last cobweb – and not one bit of it was done out of charity. She not only wanted me out of her life but she wanted every vestige of herself gone with her. It was her way of telling me to forget her.
The girl sure knew how to make a point.
So maybe in that sense it was a kindness. Still it hit me like a wrecking ball.
In time I set about replacing the things she took. I didn’t have a lot of money (she took that too), so I filled my house by emptying the Salvation Army Store.
It is where I got the end table.
I blame myself for the poor little guy’s condition. My depression must have got to him. My mood was so dark, so deep and so heavy that the weight of it became too much for even him to bear.
He never really got over it.
So every time the world overwhelms him, I put him together again.
But who am I kidding?
Of course this is all a metaphor and it is one that I continue to live with – not because my grief was too precious of a thing to lose – but rather it was the joy of my recovery that I refuse to let go of. So every time the little guy feels faint and falls over, I rush to his aid.
And every time I do, I become stronger for it.
44 thoughts on “My End Table”
My furniture is the same. Just like the cats, they don’t appreciate how good they have it. I keep threatening to throw them away. But they know I won’t. After all, the new furniture would probably not put up with my complaining.
Ordinarily, I admire people who hold my views on cleaning, but that ex-girlfriend of yours sounds downright cruel! I’d keep that table too, no matter how many times it spilled my beer, if it reminded me of the glorious day I stopped grieving for someone who clearly didn’t deserve it.
There are days when I have to climb over the piles of junk in my shed when I look back on her cleaning style with fondness and ponder, “Maybe she was onto something.” 🙂
Well, in my humble opinion, cleaning by itself is a good thing. Using it as a weapon to hurt someone else, not so much!
Sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make a cake. Or, have things taken to make room for better. Glad you and the table are still together.
The eggs were broken alright, still waiting for the cake. 🙂
And I suspect a reason your wife is your wife rather than that charmer that cleaned you out is she understands your relationship with that table, and why it’s important for you to give it a new lease on life rather than toss it in the dumpster.
There is that – and then there is the “are you fixing that stupid end table again? After all the things I asked you to fix that you haven’t got to yet…” 🙂
A fine tale. I, too, have experienced things walking out the door. As for the poor little table, I was going to suggest having the kindling discussion with it. Normally that straightens out furniture. But then I learned of your sentimental attachment. Love is the answer. 🙂 –Curt
The kindling discussion worked for a few years but after a while it became as effective as “do I have to pull this car over?” and “do you want to be grounded for the rest of your life?”
I know, I know… tables, like kids, figure it out. 🙂 –Curt
Now why do I suddenly want to run to the nearest Salvation Army store and adopt an endtable of my very own?
I actually have one I adore – it was my Ex’s Aunt’s endtable, we got it when she passed on. It was one of the few things which came with me when the marriage failed.
There is a lot of great stuff at the Salvation Army Store. Used furniture has soul.
I’ll never look at my end table without thinking of yours. Mine is smug, new and substantial. It has been born of privilege and has avoided the character-building challenges that life brings. I think my end table is a dick.
A spoiled dick at that.
I refuse to hang out with furniture like that…. Well, let’s be honest, furniture like that refuses to hang out with me.
For me it was a coffee maker. My ex took mine (a gift to me from her parents) and it was the first thing I replaced. I kept it going as long as I could, but eventually, I needed one with a timer. Still, when I see stacks of Mr Coffee boxes, I feel a little twinge. A little extra glue can’t be that expensive, keep this guy on his feet, for all our sake.
A little caffeine always keeps the blues away….either that or you get to hyped up to notice. 🙂
Can you lend me some money? I know it’s a bit sudden but I thought I’d try to catch you at a low point in your life.
Sorry but my low points in life always coincide with low funds. I wonder why that is?
That was beautiful. Well done.
Thank you, I appreciate the comment.
Funny how everything in life is a metaphor for … life. 🙂 Great story.
What would life and literature be without metaphor?
(he slaps his head)
I used to create electronic exchange definitions using the language XSD. A colleague once pointed to the code scrolling across my monitor and asked, “What’s that?” I told him, “it is a language for the painfully literal.”
Ha ha ha. 🙂
You made me laugh, made me think, and just maybe glued me together again. Thank you.
Stan called and said that the reason things fall apart after I glue them together is that I leave the glue out in the shed to freeze over the winter. Even though Stan is a fictional character, he is always there with an opinion. 🙂
“Perhaps it is because time has its own weight and given enough of it, even a small load can become too much for the strongest of objects.”
Grief/longing very much like that, too. Maybe we all need to break once in awhile, and if we’re lucky we have someone(s) to help pick us up and glue us back together?
The thing about breaking though – is that it leaves cracks and structural weaknesses. On the other hand there are those who say that you become stronger for having healed.
Amen to that. Scar tissue is scar tissue, and like getting a hip replacement, it’s never as good as what you had pre-injury. But it lets you keep going, yah?
You give me much to contemplate this morning…
I should probably wait until after people have had their coffee. 🙂
It’s always the details that count, and you’ve got a fine one in this tale: contact paper. What in the world was that about? I well remember covering every last shelf and counter and wall with the stuff. It was an era that no one under 40 — 50? — could even conceive.
You’re right about the joy of recovery, too. There comes a time when the emotion finally is gone, and a memory is only a thought: this happened, or that. Of course, there will be reminders, and that clunk in the night takes many forms. For you, it’s that table hitting the floor again.
You are right, I have to watch my cultural references. These days, does anyone under thirty know what a clutch is? The best defense against car thieves is having a manual transmission, if you can find one.
The line about the contact paper was an attempt to top a similar description in a companion piece My Toaster
I tell people who are going through a rough patch in life that the joy of recovery is every bit as powerful as the depths of despair. I hope that is true for everyone.
It’s like bronchitis, or the flu. The day suddenly arrives when you realize the worst is over, and you think, “Oh. This is what it feels like to feel good.”
Somehow, you’ve just made me feel sorry for a table, Greg.
That is good, Mick. I hope this essay puts people in emotional touch with their furniture.
There could be another whole post there…
Almost Iowa, this terrific post succeeds on both a literal and metaphorical level. The End (table).
Very clever comment, Dave. 🙂
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