I hate to brag, but my wife and I have reached the point where we no longer have to assemble our furniture after we get it home.
That’s not quite true. During the early years of our marriage, we might purchase preassembled used furniture at high-end outlets that bore such names such Big Al’s Bargain Furniture Emporium and Harness Repair. The items we bought were advertised as “pre-enjoyed,” which generally translated to “pretty beat up, but still mostly holding together.”
The very first furniture purchase my wife and I made was a used baby crib. A few months after our wedding, we learned that my wife was expecting and that the baby was due in late December. This gift would arrive during our first Christmas together.
Our financial situation could best be described as “struggling”, so we opted to buy a crib from a local used furniture store. The crib had been painted a garish green that could make a person feel ill just by looking at it.
My wife’s uncle Jim, who was knowledgeable regarding nearly everything, said that we should strip off the old paint since it might contain things that could be harmful for the baby. We quickly agreed; that icky shade of green was already making us queasy.
We purchased a gallon of paint remover and began the arduous process of stripping the crib’s approximately 1,500 wooden slats. It’s a good thing we were performing this task out on our farmhouse’s lawn because the paint remover’s fumes were powerful enough to remove consciousness.
A guy called Trapper Joe once lived in our area. Trapper Joe was known for buying, selling, and trading used furniture. Some of it was old enough to be antique, but most of it was just plain old.
Trapper Joe had a huge vat out in his barn that contained a mysterious cocktail of chemicals that could strip away the toughest furniture varnish in no time flat. I suspect that if you were to lower a cow into that vat you would soon pull out a polished skeleton.
Sadly, we weren’t yet acquainted with Trapper Joe when we bought the crib, so we ended up removing all of that awful green paint by hand. By the end of the process, I knew that I never wanted to be a stripper.
We made our second major furniture purchase a few years later when my wife’s father bought a new dining room set. Since he didn’t need two such things, he offered to sell his old set to us.
It was a good-enough set of furniture as far as I was concerned. My wife, however, was quick to point out areas where the varnish was flaking off. Recalling my experience with stripping the crib, I managed to put off refinishing the dining room table and chairs for a few years. Then a few more. Pretty soon forty years had slipped by, and I was beginning to think that I had escaped the furniture refinishing snare. I had, although I didn’t get away scot-free.
“Your recliner is starting to look pretty ratty,” my wife remarked recently. “Maybe it’s time for a new one.”
I couldn’t disagree. Between the spaghetti sauce stains and various other indignities inflicted upon it, my recliner was beginning to resemble something that had been retrieved from a landfill. Perhaps it was time for a change.
That is how I found myself at a local furniture store, trying out different recliners. “Too soft,” I would mutter about one, “too firm,” I’d grumble about another. I sounded like Goldilocks passing judgment on the three bears’ beds.
I finally found a recliner that was just right.
“This is the one!” I exclaimed to my wife, proud that it had taken only an hour to make this momentous decision.
“I found what I want too,” she replied and led me through the furniture store to show me the new dining room set that had caught her eye.
What could I say? After forty years of hearing, “I’ll get at that table first thing,” it was painfully obvious that I was trapped by my unfulfilled promises.
We found ourselves in the peculiar (for us) position of owning two major pieces of furniture. Our farmhouse isn’t all that big, so something had to give.
My wife solved this problem through giving. Specifically, she donated our old (although not old enough to be antique) dining room set to Habitat for Humanity.
Perhaps some struggling young couple will repeat history by enjoying their Christmas meal at our former table.
If so, I have a few words of advice for the guy: buy some tablecloths.