Generally speaking, I should not stop for yard sales. If I do, there’s a .999 probability that I will spend money. Usually it will be some small knickknack that only costs a couple dollars. But sometimes (like today), it requires pulling out my mad money to lay down some semi-serious cash.
I could blame it on my husband. I certainly blamed him that time I was admiring a kitten at an adoption clinic and begged him to let me take her home. We already had three cats, and I counted on him to tell me, in a reasonable tone of voice, “No, Karen, we already have enough cats.” He did not. Instead, he said, “Sure, let’s adopt her.”
Cosette turned out to be a wonderful cat who spent most of her waking hours snuggled up to me. Sadly, a heart condition cut short her life at a young age.
In any case, you can see that my husband is supposed to be the safety brake to my acquisitive nature. So when we stopped at a yard sale to check out a dining room set (we actually do need a dining room set), I counted on him to temper my temptations. But I’d already seen the school desk/chair when we were scanning the offerings from our car. Close up, I liked it even more. It turned out the price was kind of reasonable and when I made an offer, the counter was exactly what I’d expected and was willing to pay.
So, I said, “I want this.” Hubby’s response…crickets. Other than opining that he had no idea where in the house we would put it (I said I’d jam it into my office if I had to), he just let me go on my merry way.
I did pay for it with my aforementioned “mad money,” cash I receive from book sales that I happened to have tucked away. So the purchase didn’t impact our household finances at all. But hubby didn’t exactly live up to his side of the bargain by saving me from myself.
But why did I want it, from the moment I spotted it at the yard sale? Because (A) I love old furniture. I love that it’s made from solid wood, that it’s well put together. It’s something I inherited from my dad, I guess. He loved to work with his hands and was an amazing woodworker. (B) I’ve always thought purpose-built furniture is particularly cool. The fact that this is a combo desk-chair is so neat. (C) I love its connection with the past. As I was carrying it into the house, it occurred to me that my mom likely sat at a desk just like it when she was in school in the 30s and 40s.
There’s a divot carved out of the desktop and I can imagine a restless boy like my father carefully drilling out that hole with his pen knife to while away the slow moving hours in the classroom. There’s a big X scrawled across the desk top too, maybe made by some frustrated student who just had enough of the times tables when a beautiful spring day awaited him or her just outside the schoolhouse windows.
What am I going to do with this desk-chair? No idea. For now, I piled a few of my granddaughter’s books in the storage area under the seat. She’s a toddler and a little too small to use the chair, but I bet she’ll be intrigued by it next time she comes over.
And maybe I’ll just sit in the chair myself, write out a few times tables and think about the students who once used it. Girls like my mom, who won a contest in high school with the slogan “Don’t be square, the cafeteria’s not the place to brush your hair.” And boys like my dad, who would sit in old stuffy classrooms dreaming about how he would have much rather be running in an open field with a kite, or riding his bike to the ocean.