Hey, Noah…I know it’s raining and all, but I sort of want all these cookies…

Grown-up furniture is a term we use around these parts for anything that doesn’t look like it would have belonged in our abodes during the college years.  We are slowly acquiring such pieces; you know what I mean: an actual sofa, an actual dining room set, a sideboard, a dresser…things we don’t have to assemble ourselves using as a guide instructions that come in English, Spanish, French, Swedish, Japanese, Taiwanese, things that don’t bring their own assembly tools.

This trend does not prevent my husband from dreading the sound of those words: I just had a most scathingly brilliant idea!  Not my original thought, of course; this is one of Hayley Mills’ recurrent lines from The Trouble With Angels; it never boded well in the movie, it doesn’t bode well here either.  From time to time (very rarely) my scathingly brilliant ideas involve construction, and -quite frankly- I cannot be bothered with either cautious execution of my harebrained plan or patience.  We once built a platform for our bed that was a) askew, b) supported by hope and too many L-brackets and c) weighed more than a hundred pounds.  Yes…we once built a platform bed that weighed MORE than a hundred pounds.  Notice how I have yet to mention the word “sturdy”…because it’s not one that would be applied to that platform.  J’s bed was an unmitigated disaster; if we’d been building a raft to escape from a deserted island, we wouldn’t have made it past the reef…

As soon as we pulled into the parking lot of the lumber/hardware store, J started worrying.  I explained to him that we were there for a specific size piece of wood and it had absolutely nothing to do with a bed for him.  He seemed relieved.  I think he still has nightmares.  The arrival of the sideboard last night was celebrated by all.  J already knows which drawer holds the place mats and has been happily removing them and putting them away for meals.  The trip to the hardware store this morning had the sole purpose of providing us with a piece of wood that would serve as a top for our new kitchen island.  (This is the part where I’d stood up suddenly, in the middle of dinner, and announced a most scathingly brilliant idea, and when The Great Gonzo had to leap over the table to almost perform the Heimlich maneuver on my husband.)  Once we knew for sure that he wasn’t choking, having a heart attack or had access to any sharp objects, I informed my husband that I was going to put a piece of wood on top of the stainless steel shelving unit we’d removed from the dining room to make space for the sideboard, and that this would be our “island.”

I’ve mentioned the rule where something new comes in and something old has to come out.  Well…for a moment the dining room looked like a rather heated discussion in the UN.  People were trotting out “the agreement” and much ballyhooing was taking place.  J took this moment to grab a second helping of pasta, add Parmesan cheese to his Parmesan cheese and kept eating calmly so as not to attract attention to himself.  He was unsuccessful at grabbing cookies behind our backs, and when we stopped him he let out a loud yelp that sounded more like a curse word, and marched upstairs in a huff.  I prevailed; not because I was right or had a particularly brilliant plan in mind, but because I can argue longer than anyone in the house.

Off we trotted this morning.  In town, J and I walked down to Pinocchio’s to see about some Slinky replacements, but there were none to be had and, instead, J picked out two small toys he paid for himself.  The store owner asked me to send her a message on Facebook to remind her we wanted to reserve Slinky when the shipment arrived.  From there we went to the hardware store and J, relieved at the puny size of the wood we picked out, was happy.

We put together the “island” and, thank goodness, it turned out just fine.  Again, it is not the epitome of craftsmanship or cautious planning, but it holds rather well and looks like an actual piece of furniture.  Even J, who walked around it several times, crouched to look under it, and made note of the fact that the bread basket is now on the shelf rather than the countertop, gave it the seal of approval.  The maiden voyage of the “kitchen island” will be completed when we finally put something on top of it, something we’ve yet to do because I stained it (found something that dries in an hour and has a suggestion of 24 hours before direct use of the surface…which we won’t heed because this is us we’re talking about.)  J looked at where things are hanging from its frame; he was reassured by the fact that the pots and pans he prefers and the colander are all where he remembers them being yesterday evening and this morning.  He also located the cheese grater and the mixing bowls.

Some people can just bring things into their homes and use them.  We have to give J the grand tour of whatever it is we acquire.  We move into a new home and we walk through it with him, room by room, taking our time, and he acts as if he’s an archaeologist at an important dig site, treading carefully, observing every detail and making sure he has mental markers for all there is.  When I move furniture, J is the one who gives final approval, the one who sits on the steps and takes it all in from a strategic point of view rather than an aesthetic one.  Until he is completely accustomed to the presence and location of the new kitchen island, the kitchen curtains will stay open at night, the light from across the way reflecting on the furniture in case J decides to come downstairs and has forgotten where it is.

You should have seen him.  Here is a guy who sees a roll of duct tape, Velcro, assorted screws, a T-square, “sidewalk” chalk, a kitchen mallet, his parents crouching over some upturned piece of furniture and thinks to himself: ah!  We’re getting new stuff!  And he gets the scathingly brilliant idea (they’re hereditary) of using our fragile state (read: that we’re cursing and using Velcro for something that requires screws) to talk us into giving him a snack.  He fails miserably.  He is insulted by our refusal.  He looks at our pseudo-kitchen island and lets out a loud HA! and stomps up the stairs…

Is it a coincidence that down the stairs floats “anything you can do I can do better…I can do anything better than you”?  I…think…NOT…

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