Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Monday, August 6, 2012

This Old House: If You Let Your Spouse Go Furniture-Shopping

When your spouse has forty five minutes to kill between dropping your oldest child off at camp and picking your youngest child up from the same camp, he will decide to kill some time at the consignment shop that you have to pass to get to said camp.  Because your spouse likes consignment shops in general, and because this one has always intrigued him.  (But not as much as the Middle Eastern restaurant across the street, which originally attracted his attention because he misread the sign that said “Hookah Lounge” as something that sort of looks and sounds like “Hookah Lounge.”)

When he checks out the consignment shop, he will find two dining room tables that he thinks might be appropriate replacements for the old English gate-leg drop leaf table that is now hanging out in the corner of your living room.  He will text you photos from his camera phone, because he knows that you are tired of having a utility table with a tablecloth thrown over it for a dining room table.  And, also, because he has this “thing” about inundating you with texted photos of “items available for purchase” while you are trying to do other things, like work.

After he has texted you the photos, he will call you and say, “I just texted you some photos.  The photos are of tables.  I really like the Mission-style one.  The second picture is of a table I don’t like as much.”

You will remind your spouse that he should refer to Mission-style furniture as CRAFTSMAN-style furniture, because Gustav Stickley (AKA the king of Mission – I mean, CRAFTSMAN – furniture) himself personally hated the term “Mission,” and your spouse should be sensitive to this, given that Gustav Stickley is like a god his people.  (By his people, I mean his immediate people:  his parents’ house looks like Gustav Stickley threw up in it.  I do not mean this in a bad way.  It is beautiful, CUH-RAZY well-constructed furniture, and the fact that they collect it totally makes sense, given that the house that they put it in was designed by Fay Jones, a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright.  In a weird way, their love of Mi . . . I mean, CRAFTSMAN stuff is one of the things that binds me to their son.  Because he inherited their aesthetic, which is not exactly my aesthetic, but it’s close:  Craftsman and Tudor are like siblings, or kissing cousins at the least.  No, I am not saying that I married my cousin.  But let’s just say that our heads were both in the 1920’s when we first went shopping for furniture together, and, later, when we went shopping for neighborhoods.  We agree to disagree on a lot of subjects, but furniture and architecture aren’t among them.)

Spouse will ignore your lesson in furniture style semantics, and proceed to drive a few blocks to a nearby antiques mall, where he will photograph a third table.  The third table will remind you of your mom’s breakfast table, the one with the pull-out leaves instead of the gate legs.  You will want to wake up early on Saturday morning to see said table, because you have always kind of coveted your mom’s.

When you wake up early on Saturday morning, you will putter around and do other stuff, like clean the bathrooms, until it is after lunch and you remember that your husband has a 2 pm tennis match.  When you remember that your husband has a 2 pm tennis match, you will remember that shopping for furniture with your children is really painful, and shopping for antique furniture with your children is both really painful and sort of harrowing.  So you will run out of the house like your hair is on fire, wearing a Batman t-shirt, yoga pants and no makeup, hoping to make it to and from Arlington before he has to leave for his match.

Before you run out of the house like your hair is on fire, you will ask your spouse, “Seriously?  Tennis in the middle of the afternoon?  In Texas, IN AUGUST?  Who organized your league, Hades?”

You will go to the antiques mall first.  Because you really do covet your mom’s pull-out table.  When you see the table, you will be disappointed, because it’s really rickety.  Wonky, even.  However, while you are in the process of evaluating the disappointingly wonky table, you will notice the piecrust barley twist end table in the corner.  When you notice the piecrust barley twist end table in the corner, you will laugh, not a “ha, ha” laugh, but a “well, that figures “laugh, because you have been looking for a table like that for awhile, and it figures that you would find it when you are not looking for it.  Then you will tell yourself, “Okay, okay – life’s ironic.  BUT IT’S A PIECRUST BARLEY TWIST TABLE IN EXTREMELY GOOD CONDITION, AND IT’S RIDICULOUSLY UNDERPRICED.  Ponder the irony later.”

You will buy the end table.  When you buy the end table, the nice lady at the sales desk will tell you that you are getting a really good deal.  And you will say, “No duh.”

After you have loaded the end table in the car, you will report to your spouse that you purchased a table, just not one that could be pressed into service in lieu of the utility table.  Your spouse will tell you to check out the consignment store for grins and giggles.

Whey you arrive at the consignment store, you will immediately dismiss the Mi – CRAFTSMAN table, because it’s too dark, and, really, too Craftsman-y for your needs.  Then you will look behind the Craftsman table, and you will see the table that your spouse didn’t like that much. 

And you will like it.  A lot. 

The first thing that you will like is that it isn’t oak:  it has a smooth surface that would be tons easier to clean jelly off of.  (When you collect 100 year-old tiger oak and also have a disgustingly slovenly son, you spend a lot of time pondering just how deep the grain is in 100 year-old tiger oak.)  The second thing that you will like is that it appears to be from the 1940s or 50s, which means that it is scaled to modern-human size.  A standard tablecloth might even fit over it without hanging an extra foot over one size.

When the proprietor of the consignment shop sees you looking at the table, he will come over, and you will have a conversation that sounds like this:

Questions, Batman?


Rock maple.


Late 40s.


Not Heywood-Wakefield.  One of the other big manufacturers.  Can’t remember off of the top of my head, but there’s a sticker underneath.  Want me to look? 

No.  I think it’s the same color as my chairs, but I’m not 100% sure.  Oh, WAIT – I have another table in my car. 


No – I can bring THAT table in for color-matching.

You will retrieve the piecrust barley twist end table.  The proprietor of the consignment store will say, “HEY, that’s a really great table” and attempt to convince you to sell it.  You will not be moved.

When you hold your table up to the other table (literally), you will decide that the table is the same color as the chairs with the cane seats that you inherited from your spouse’s grandparents, which means that it is also a dead-on match for your new floors.

You will purchase your second table of the day.  And, two days later, your sweet mother-in-law will retrieve the table for you (notwithstanding that it’s not Stickley), and you will reward her by feeding her lunch – the first meal served on your new dining room table (well, at least since you have owned it).

Pictured above:  my "new" Tell City Chair Co. rock maple butterfly drop-leaf dining table.  It is the EXACT color of our floors, which makes me very happy, and only a little bit smug.  I have researched Tell City, and all I know at this point is that:  (1) it's an actual city in Indiana, settled by the Swiss and named after William Tell; (2) most of the examples of this table that are in existence have a Formica top, as opposed to solid wood; and (3) there's a store in Tell City, Indiana that specializes in vintage Tell City furniture and, for $15, they will tell me the age and give me an appraisal.  Spouse thinks it's  weird that I want to have this information, but I do.  For an additional $16, I am going to take advantage of the fact that said store stocks the stain used on my table (Andover maple).  Not a bad thing to have on hand, and, also, I think that I may have a leaf made, because the table will take one, and it would be kind of awesome to have the ability to make my "bigger-than-the-last-table table" THAT MUCH BIGGER than the last table, on an as-needed basis.

And THIS is my end table.  See?  Piecrust crimping on the top, barley twisting on the bottom.   I have all but confirmed that she (I think it's a she) is English and approximately 110 years old.


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