One Table Dance, Then I Gotta Boogie

Today I was remembering all the things I own, deciding what comes with and what stays behind. I remembered a coffee table that I hadn't thought about in years.

It was my 18th birthday, and I visiting my family in Austin, MN. My father and I had not spoken in a long time, and we were certainly not as friendly as we are now. The tension of a million unnamed problems formed a static wall between us. After awkwardly standing in opposition to one another, he shifted his feet and said, "So. You're 18. What do you want?"

I told him I could use a coffee table.

My father disappeared in the back room of the shop and reemerged with raw planks of quartersawn oak. "Then let's build it."

For the next few hours, my father and I worked together silently. We smoothed our quiet frustrations with the planer, balancing the long planks of wood in unified motion. Sawing and binding the pieces together was a choreographed dance without song. When it came time to sand, the last of our issues were rubbed away, and then a frictionless coat of varnish was applied. The only words between us were directions, guiding words that resulted in syncopation, and then a beautiful table. Then came the smiles--real, hard-earned smiles.

A year later, a punk named Alex Arnes asked me if he could tap out a metal bowl on the table. I told him not to, that I had made the table with my father. He laughed as though I were joking and slammed it down anyway, leaving a crescent shaped gouge in the perfect wood. The sonofabitch never came over again. He wouldn't dare.

Today, I remembered that table, and I remembered the only time my father and I ever truly coexisted. I asked him about it, where it was. Last month, two truck trailers were stolen from my father's property in Austin. He thinks the table was in one or the other.

"Why? You need a table up there or something?"


madam tyrant said...

Do you want me to kick that guys ass? I totally will. I don't care how punk he is. I'm little but I'm fast.

Anna Nym said...

My dad says it was Mexicans, because "they steal things." I have a hunch that he's wrong, so I won't sick you on the entire Mexican workforce of Austin just yet. But thank you. If we ever solve the mystery, you and I can go recover the table and beat them with it.

They actually stole a lot of things, mostly belonging to my father. The estimated value of all the junk was over $6,000. Considering that my parents are both forgetful and antique dealers, the actual worth was probably much more than that.