Gut Rumbles

February 09, 2008

The dining table

Originally published December 23, 2003

When Jennifer and I first married, we had a really shitty dining table. It had a glass top and four spindley little legs supporting it. If you leaned on it wrong, the sumbitch was liable to flip over and fall on the floor. But we made do with what we had.

One Sunday afternoon, Jennifer's father called me and asked if I would help him move some new furniture to his house the next day. I told him that I would, so after work, I met him at the furniture store. Got-Dam! Earline had gone nuts in the place and bought china cabinets, tables, chairs and chests-of-drawers that weighed a ton apiece.

We managed to get it all onto two pickup trucks after much manual labor and clever positioning of the goods. I drove my load to Garden City and helped Ted move it all into the house while Earline stood there and pointed to where she wanted it placed. We were at that job until 10:00 that night.

We had to move a lot of old furniture out of the house to make room for the new. One piece was a dining table with six chairs that Ted made by hand in his woodworking shop. The table was a beautiful piece of cherry and the chairs were made from black walnut. He told me that I could have it for helping him move all the furniture that day.

"Ted, you could sell that for a lot of money," I told him.

"I'm giving it to you and Jennifer," he replied. "The table you have now sucks. You need a better one. Take it, and call it a late wedding present."

I took the table and chairs.

Ted died shortly thereafter, and Earline got rid of the ramshackle mobile home on Sunset Creek down at Midway. She bought a fancy double-wide and changed the river-shack into a palace. She made the place where wet bathing suits and cigarette smoke were par for the course into some womanized, fuzz-covered icky-joint, where you were afraid to fart.

My last trip to that place occurred when Earline came to the house and wanted Ted's table for her Midway palace. "Ted just loaned that to you," she said. "I want it back now because it would look PERFECT in the new trailer." Jennifer told me not to argue about it.

I packed it up and hauled it to Midway. Jennifer and I bought another dining table that day.

I am certain that the table looks PERFECT in that fluff-palace, where it is used maybe three times per year. I never forgave that woman for taking that table. Ted GAVE THAT TO ME. He made it with his own hands and wanted his grandson to eat off it. He wanted me and Jennifer to eat off it. He wanted it to be a damn well-used dining room table.

So, if I snapped at my mother-in-law a few times when I was married, I had a damn good reason.

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