Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Report To A End-Table"

At pretty close to the last minute, a classic, handmaid, twig end-table was deposited into the middle bedroom closet of our house, and the door was closed.

The table, a casualty of a reshuffled design strategy, was now seen as incongruously rustic. It would, therefore, have to go. At least for the duration of our house tour, arranged by Dr M as a fundraiser for her therapeutic clinic.

It was to this hard-luck table, exiled to a closet filled with clothing we don’t wear anymore, that I made my “morning-after” report.

It was the least I could do.

I walked to the closet and opened the door. The table was sitting there, sharing the floor space with a black, metal stepladder that, for years, had called the closet “home.”

Note: Throughout the following, I will appear in normal type. The table’s words, as best as I can remember them, are in italics:

So, how did it go?

It was a dark and drizzly day.

Whoa. If you believe in foreshadowing, this is not what you want to hear at the beginning of a story.

Don’t get ahead of me. By the way, how is it in here?

Well, I can breathe. And I made friends with a rabbit-fur jacket your daughter wore when she was eight.

Does it talk too?

It’s not a DISNEY movie. “The Haunted Closet.” You’re lucky you got me.

Sorry. Sometimes, my whimsy runs away with me.

A talking table. That’s it!

Good enough.

I tried engaging the stepladder in conversation. But it just stood there.

Maybe it’s shy.

Maybe it’s a stepladder!

All right, so here’s what happened. We are ready to show the house, along with three other vintages houses in the neighborhood. Four houses – that was the tour. Thirty-five bucks. Going to the clinic.

Did a lot of people come?

Not that many. The weather was iffy. The clinic, though worthy, is not known to the community. We also learned that a lot more marketing needs to be done when you want people to know something’s happening. Our most prominent “promotional tool” was a banner suspended from our house’s front porch.

I’m sorry about the turnout. Maybe if they knew there’d be an authentic twig table on display

Don’t start with me, okay?

I’m just saying.

We’re moving on. Dr. M had the imaginative idea of playing a Scott Joplin CD as background ambiance. Ragtime music – 1910 house.

Nice touch.

Stylish. Though there were moments where the ragtime specialist playing on the CD seemed to stop in mid-flourish, check the less than overflowing “house”, and sigh, before returning to the piano.

So you got nobody?

Not nobody. People who lived nearby dropped in, each of them announcing how curious they’d always been about what this place looked like one the inside. Many offered the ultimate compliment, saying we were the nicest house in the neighborhood.

That’s flattering.

You don’t know the neighborhood.

Maybe if I weren’t cooped up in this closet…

I got it!

So curious neighbors came.

Yeah. And our old architect and his entire family.

That was nice.

He seemed almost surprised that the place was still standing.


At one point, he wiped his brow with a handkerchief. I swear I heard him go, “Whew!”

That’s just your imagination.

I hope so.

Did anyone else come?

Curious people.

Did they wonder what was in this closet?

They weren’t that curious. They were, like, Yuppie couples, who were thinking of fixing up an old house, and were trolling for advice.

Did you give them any?

“Don’t do it!”

You’re such a funny fellow.

I told them I was kidding. Though there is some truth to it.

That’s the nature of your humor. So, overall, it wasn’t that great?

Disappointing. Until right near the end.

What happened then?

We knew they were coming. They had e-mailed us ahead. But then they actually arrived – two tall, straight, elderly gentlemen, and their even taller and straighter grandson.

Who were

The elderly men were the grandsons of the man who originally built this house. They had flown in from Texas for the event. These gentlemen were so decent and kind and well-spoken and generous – they made a substantial contribution to the clinic. They seemed genuinely appreciative of our care and interest in their grandfather’s house, a house they – “they” meaning two guys who were now in their eighties – had played in when they were kids.

That’s actually pretty cool.

Earlier, they had sent us photographs of their grandfather and other relatives, which we displayed prominently for the tour. They explained that, though their granddad looked stern and serious in the pictures, they remembered him as a fun-loving guy.


It’s something to remember about pictures – they can leave posterity a misleading impression. Anyway, a half hour after they arrived, another granddaughter showed up – not a granddaughter of the original owner, a granddaughter of the elderly gentlemen – bringing along her husband and their two little kids – the great-great grandchildren of the original owner!

Great-great. That’s great.

That’s great great! Before they left, Dr. M and I had our pictures taken with the elderly gentlemen. They seemed to be beaming, as proud of this old house as we are. It came to me that the whole event was a little bit like Gregory’s Girl.

What’s that?

It’s a movie a talked about once. This teenage boy likes this one girl, but he ends up with a different one. It was the sense I got that, though the event was organized for one purpose, in the end, it was really for something else – to allow a family to reconnect with its roots. In that regard, our Big Day was a resounding success.

Very nice. An unexpected ending.

Is certainly was.

Hey, can I ask you something?


Is there any chance I’m going to get out of here?


Neal said...

Sounds a nice day. And I guess you can feel lucky you didn't find yourself assigned to inside wardrobe duty yourself.

Not that I'm suggesting you're incongruously rustic, just aware that it's possible to be in your own home and still be designated as lowering the tone...

Anonymous said...

No picture to share? Oh well, at least you weren't the one who ended up in italics.

Anonymous said...

Handmaid? What was she wearing?