Tables and Scars

The scars in the table don’t bother me so much now, even though I was responsible. At first, they stood out like a dent in a new car, or a missed spot on a freshly painted door.

Alex had her eye on this table ever since she saw it at a Restoration Hardware showroom. “These showrooms are meant to make any table look fabulous,” I said as I prepared myself to turn over the price tag, “you could put a cardboard box in here, and call it the ‘eco-table’, and it would probably look good.” I quietly showed the price tag to Alex and she nodded in agreement that we would not be buying this one today.

Alex being Alex, however, did not just let it go. She looked for similar tables everywhere we went to no avail. She also made her inside-guy at the Restoration Hardware Outlet aware of her search, but alas, nothing…. Until some years later, when we had all but forgotten about this table (at least I had) and we got a call from Alex’s Outlet guy.

We dropped everything and drove an hour to get there. This was it, and for a much better price. Granted, it didn’t look as fabulous, shoved against other outlet items near the back of the store, but this was it.

We removed the legs and strapped the thing to the top of our SUV, and stupid me put the top of the table face down. On a blanket, but still– good side down.

Since we weren’t sure how tightly tied down it was, we drove the thing home by two-lane back road. A big truck barreled toward us and zoomed past, creating a crosswind that almost blew the table off our roof. I slowed down and held the rope with one hand while steering with the other, because of course I thought I was strong enough to hold the thing down, but it still moved every time a big truck whizzed by.

We got the table home, nonetheless,  and excitedly set it up. We stood back to admire it and the first thing we noticed was two long shiny scars on either side of the top. “Those weren’t there when we bought the table,” Alex said. I studied the situation and realized there was no easy way out for me: Even though the table was rustic, these scars were fresh. “Fortunately it’s a rustic table, so it kind of blends in,” I said anyway, trying to ease the tension. Alex raised an eyebrow, and that’s all I needed to know when to shut up.

Years later and I think those scars have healed, so to speak. The table now has other nicks and scrapes and scratches, from guests and nieces and nephews, not just me. Kind of like our own real scars, those initial table scars blended in and are reminders of eventful moments.

My own real scars each have their story. I can remember specifically how I got them. There’s the one where I got punched in the lip by a guy who’s girlfriend I had just given a ride to in my candy-red Alfa Romeo convertible (nothing happened between me and his girl, but maybe he could read my mind because I sure wanted something to happen); the one where I totaled said Alfa Romeo without a seatbelt on, and was lucky enough to just get a cut between my eyebrow and left eye (which my father, the surgeon, superglued with whatever cheap brand was in our utility drawer that day); the one where my brother bet me a nickel I wouldn’t skateboard down a steep hill– I got all the way to the bottom at full speed before hitting a rock and flying off my skateboard like I was shot out of a canon (fortunately, once again, it was just a bad shoulder scrape I walked away with).

At first you worry the scars will be big and deep and ugly, but eventually they fade until they are just part of your skin, part of your story.

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