The Coffee Table


We all fall victim to magical thinking at some point. For some, of course, magical thinking is a way of life; for others, exploiting magical thinking is a way to make a living. Many naturopaths, faith healers, fortune tellers, and the like may combine the two, believing in what they do as fervently as those who waste their money on their worthless services.

But my smug feelings of superiority toward the victims and purveyors of magical thinking have to be tempered somewhat by my experience with a coffee table. It is a solid oak oval coffee table. We bought it when our children were small and owned it for many years. When we moved to Victoria, we brought it with us.

At various times the coffee table seemed like an eyesore. Its top bore the marks of being danced on at wild New Year’s Eve parties. Every time we bought new furniture, which over time got to be higher-end furniture, the coffee table looked more out of place. The first time we decided to get a new coffee table, we picked out one made of cherry wood with beautiful inlaid tiles. I hurt my back carrying it in, but we loved it. Once it was in our living room, though, it just didn’t fit in. For one thing, it was rectangular, and there were too many other angular shapes in the room. As soon as we returned it, my back got better. The old oval coffee table looked much better, and we saved $800.

Once in Victoria, we decided that the coffee table absolutely had to go. We pretty much decided on a replacement, and I had plans to haul the old coffee table to the dump or give it to a thrift store. The day before I was going to take it away, I was skyping with my daughter, and jokingly showed her the plain tuna I was having for lunch as a part of a weight-loss plan. The plate tipped and tuna juice ran onto the keyboard of my laptop. It fried it and I spent $850 for a new laptop. We decided to put off buying a new coffee table.

A few months passed. We started going into furniture stores and looking at coffee tables.

We moved the old oval coffee table into the computer room. Finally, we settled on a coffee table that we thought would look great. We talked it over and decided that we would go get it the next day. That afternoon, backing out of our parking space, I was distracted by a crow and turned too soon. I hit a pole and ripped off the mirror on the driver’s side.  We have a $500 deductible and our insurance rates were sure to go up. The old oval coffee table went back into the living room.

We started discussing the coffee table issue in whispers. I’m not kidding. The old oval coffee table started to seem like an evil presence that might overhear us talking about getting rid of it and make something else bad happen. My back, the laptop, the car—what if one of us had an accident? Someone who fears that an oak coffee table is hatching plots has nothing on Deepak Chopra. I had to get a grip.

With considerable trepidation, we bought a glass coffee table. The day before it was to be delivered, we were taking the old oak coffee table to a charity. We had it by the open trunk of the car and were about to lose our nerve and take it back, when another resident of our building saw us and asked us what were going to do with it. She was involved with a local theatre, and said they could use the coffee table as a prop. We immediately agreed to give it to her.

So far nothing horrible has happened since we got the new coffee table. We can only assume and hope that the old one likes its life in the theatre. We plan to avoid plays it’s featured in.

3 thoughts on “The Coffee Table

  1. Great story. You never know about the magical powers of furniture… I hope all the plays are a success at the theatre where the old coffees table has taken up thespianism.


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