When we sold our first B&B, we moved into a lovely old house with a bright, sunny dining room. We had set the dining room up in the B&B with individual tables for two, on the assumption that most people don’t want to talk to total strangers first thing in the morning. And then we sold all the tables in a yard sale before we moved.
So we were on the hunt for some kind of table for our new house. Because, while we could handle eating off our laps in front of the TV for a little while, we knew the thrill would wear off and we also had plans to eventually invite people round for dinner and there was no way we were going to do that with the current set up.
One night my mother called. “I’ve found your table!” she said, laughing. “Check the O’Neil Bernhart flier!” naming an upscale furniture store that we had never even been to, let alone bought anything in.
Conversation over, I flipped through the flier, eager to see the monstrosity that had given my mother such a giggle.
And there it was: travertine base, glass top, seated ten comfortably. Eight hundred dollars. Which in 1988 dollars was even more money than it is today.
“Oh,” I said to Alan in dismay. “I kind of like it.”
The next day, we went to the store and had a look at it. “It’s really nice…” I said.
“We did just make some money…” he said.
“And we’ll have it forever…” I said. Because this, we were sure, was our forever home.
So we bought the silly thing.
A few days later, three men in white cotton gloves delivered it and set it up in our dining room. We were not used to this kind of treatment. The furniture we were used to buying came in a flat box and required us to put it together ourselves.
“You should get many years of service out of this,” said one of the men, giving it a final polish.
It really was a nice table. And hosted some very nice meals, including an Easter brunch that I set up purely so that I could try out a recipe for marbled eggs.
A year later, Alan was accepted into Chef School and we sold our forever home and moved Stratford. Into an attic apartment. With very steep stairs.
We should have sold the table in Windsor. And if we’d had any idea just how many times we’d be moving over the next few years, we would have. But we’d paid a lot of money for it. So we hung on.
That first apartment at least had room for our massive table. Which suffered a small unfortunate accident in the move and now had a chip in the glass. So when we moved out of the apartment and into a small house with no room for dinners for ten, we took it apart and stored the pieces in the basement. Because we’d paid a lot of money for it and now with the chip, we’d never get near what it was worth if we sold it and besides, we still kind of liked it and hoped to move to a place where we could set it up and enjoy it.
Which we did, just over a year later. To another third floor apartment. On a really windy day. And I’m fairly certain that was the cause of my first grey hair.
In that particular year, we moved three (THREE!) times. Carting that albatross of a table with us each and every time because the sunk costs of both our time and money were now so huge we were pretty much chained to it for life.
At least in the next two apartments, we were able to set it up and use it. But both of those places had carpeting and let me tell you, if you’re ever thinking of getting yourself lashed to a travertine-based, glass-topped table for more money than makes any kind of sense? They’re a little wobbly on carpeting.
The last move of that year took us to Toronto, where our apartment was less than 600 square feet. But at least it had parquet flooring. We kept the table top behind our sofa and the base in pieces in a closet.
People would regularly ask if we still had the stupid thing and what were we planning to do with it? We didn’t know. Maybe we’d bury it.
Finally, we bought our second B&B. It had a beautiful dining room with French doors opening onto the garden. And, despite our belief that no one should have to make polite conversation with total strangers without a few gallons of coffee inside them, we decided to go with the big table for our guests. It was going to be soooo lovely.
Vindication was at last in sight. All the years of carting that table around like an embarrassing relative was finally going to pay off. I stood on the driveway in happy anticipation.
As Alan and a friend were taking it off the truck, the table top slipped out of Alan’s hands, hit the metal edge of the truck and shattered into a thousand pieces.