A couple of weeks ago when I was wiping down our kitchen/dining room table, I got a small splinter in my palm. It wasn’t the first time and I silently reminded myself to be more flippin’ careful at that end of the table. I looked at my hand, back at the table and thought idly about what grade sandpaper we’d need to smooth it down and fill the knotty holes that over time had started to deepen and, because Santiago was at that moment sanding down our outside doors (that take a terrible beating from the sun), I wondered if he could do the work, lazy cow that I am.
Then I wondered if maybe we should just polyurethane the table after we’d made the repairs. Would that change the look? We bought this table in part because it had an aged patina to it and it wasn’t a formal dining room table. Our kitchen/great(ish) room is where we have casual family meals and also dinner parties. When we’d moved from Milwaukee seven years ago, I sold our large mahogany dining room table to the folks who bought our house. The transaction went something like this:
Her: Ohmygod I LOVE your dining room. The table is beautiful and I can’t imagine anything else in here.
Me: Wanna buy it?
Her: What? Really?
Me: Yep. (unsaid…I don’t want it and it won’t work in our Topanga house).
Her: I’m sure it’s more than I can afford. Just buying this house is stretching us to breaking point.
Me: Hey, I may have paid a lot for this table, but I’ll sell it for next to nothing (unsaid: because I’m a lazy cow and who the hell cares about the table…you bought our house for almost full asking price).
Her: How much (said with absolute fear that it would be too much),
Her: What? Are you kidding?
Me: No. Want it? If not, I’m going to advertise.
Her: (Whipping out checkbook) Yes, Yes…I want it! Ohmygod, I can’t believe it’s mine.
Me: I’m so happy it’s going to stay here (unsaid: Hoofuckingray!).
And that’s how it came to be that when we moved to Topanga we had no dining room table. The owners of this house had a big wooden table that I thought could probably work for us but it never occurred to me to ask them if it was for sale. Their real estate agent had told us its story, as well. No need to sit down, boys and girls: it’s short.
One day, the owners (hereinafter referred to as the morons) were having a dinner party and, apparently on the very day that 10 people were coming to their house to dine, they thought, “OHMYGOD, we have no table upon which to serve the dinner.” At that point, the male moron proceeded to whipstitch together a dining room table. Boom. Done.
“Wow, that’s amazing,” I said to the agent. Skull cinema was thinking, “They didn’t realize they had no table until the day of the dinner party?”
And so it came to pass that they had a very large table (10 feet long and almost 5 feet wide) which, while it fit this kitchen fairly well, probably wouldn’t ever fit any other kitchen again.
And then they put their house on the market and we offered to buy it and then the moron said, all casual like, “Would you be interested in buying the table? It fits the kitchen so well.” (Unspoken: it won’t fucking fit in any room in our new house in the Palisades, please buy it).
And I said, “Sure, we’d be interested. While it’s a little bigger than we wanted, it would probably work for us. How much?” (I’m remembering, of course, that I charged $250 for a pretty nice mahogany table with two leaves and full table pads just a few weeks prior).
And that fucking moron looked me straight in the eyes and said without blinking, “I was thinking $1,500.”
And I looked him straight in the eye and said, “No thanks.”
And so he went from having a sale in his pocket to nothing and so said, “We could negotiate.”
And I said, “No we can’t. You made the mistake of starting too high and I’ve seen a table I like at Restoration Hardware that is just under a grand.”
And he said, “ We could go below a grand.”
And I said, “No thanks. I’ll stick with the table at RH.”
And you know what? I’m really, really glad that I did because after I got that second splinter I sent an email to customer service at RH telling them the issues I was having with this seven-year old table. They listened hard and I sent them some photographs illustrating the problems and then, last week, they said, “We are happy to replace the table. We stand by our products at RH and while we do not stock your table any longer, we are pleased to offer you either the Gun Barrel Salvaged Wood Table or our Trestle Salvaged Wood Dining Table…whichever you prefer. Just go to www.restorationhardware.com and make your choice and we'll deliver it at your convenience.
I’m still reeling that they have been so responsive to one of their customers and I know one thing for very certain…I will continue shopping at Restoration Hardware and if you think I haven’t already told this story one hundred times…