I’d be willing to swear on your mother’s life that I’m at least passably sane and, in this moment, completely sober, but it seems a little impossible that it’s been TWO MONTHS since I posted about my dining table. Where did the time go? I’m blaming all the weird New York weather, which moved directly from winter into summer with nothing pleasant to speak of in the interim. We’ve been cheated.
To jog your memory, since you’re probably not as obsessed with me as I am, here’s what we were working with:
The demographic breakdown of my favorite local Upper East Side thrift store is as follows: 89% women, 97% of whom are over the age of 75. A staggering 100% of these lasses are Jewish. Naturally, it’s a crowd that I fit right into. My ladies and I can be found wandering around the store, evaluating the same pieces of furniture and bric-a-brac, glancing over at each other to knowingly shake our heads in disgust over the absurd prices. The allegiance between these broads and I has nothing to do with phony smiles or contrived pleasantries—it ain’t a country club, for Christ’s sake—but a presumed shared love of chopped liver and an unwavering commitment to the art of kvetching.
Shopping in these stores usually amounts to little more than a fool’s errand, so finally buying something becomes an event worth discussing while waiting in line. Because neither positivity nor gloating are valued in this subculture, I find it’s usually best to immediately diminish any impending purchase by bypassing the attractive aspects and really delving into what’s wrong with it. “Oh that’s a lovely piece of art,” Evelyn might tell you, with the full expectation that you’ll then discuss swapping out the damaged frame or changing the putrid color of the matte. Even her Pekingese sits in silent judgment. Of course, you oblige.
This is why I was thrown when one such thrifty lady—let’s call her Barbara, since, statistically, her name is probably Barbara—wouldn’t let me have my moment of shining negativity.
“What a nice table!” she exclaimed.
“Well, it will be after I clean up the filthy base, I think.”
“Oh please, the brass looks great—really, don’t worry about it. In such good shape”
“Yeah, I actually really love the base. I think I’ll change out the top though. It’s sort of a weird pairing.”
“Oh, I’d think twice about that,” Barbara warned. “They don’t make them like that anymore. With that…whatchamacallit edge. The kind that’s rounded.”
“Something like that. Oh, is it ever a hip-saver. All these hard edges on stuff these days’ll really get you.”
“Well, maybe I’ll just refinish it then.”
“Oh, but the wood is so gorgeous! A solid wood tabletop like that is rare these days.”
I couldn’t win with this woman. Clearly, life hadn’t slapped her in the face with quite the same ferocity as it had her other elderly counterparts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even just pandering to my audience that so reliably expected such critical commentary—I really did have my heart set on a nice round top for my shiny brassy tulip-y base. Marble, preferably.
I went to a marble shop. $300. Well, that’s not happening. I searched Craigslist for a few weeks for appropriately-sized and cheap marble slabs that could be relieved of their less-worthy existing bases. No luck. Windows upon windows of restaurant supply websites were opened on my computer screen, then closed. Finally I faced the music and my dreams of natural stone morphed into an ostensibly more attainable plastic laminate reality. If it could somehow resemble this, I’d be pleased:
Only problem? My local custom cabinet store apparently couldn’t fabricate a simple table top. But they could recommend somebody who would! Had I heard of Gothic Cabinet Craft?
Now, if you live in New York and you’re anything like me, this store confuses the shit out of you. You don’t like their merchandise. You don’t understand how they’ve been able to stay in business, who is buying their wares, or how they’re also somehow able to open new fancy branches in the middle of a recession. Something smells fishy with this place, and I’m guessing it’s the stench of a city-wide chain of drug fronts or a heavy involvement in the sex-trade industry. Whatever it is, I’d like to get to the bottom of it.
Certainly, the tabletop pricing didn’t quell my suspicions about this joint. $250. For a 36″ round white p-lam tabletop. For fuck’s sake. This was harder than I realized it possibly could be.
After leaving Gothic Cocaine Craft, I was overtaken by an urge to maneuver my defeat into decisive, empowering action. Who needed fancy-cut marble or fancy-crafted laminate or Barbara’s stupid bullnose edging? Not me. Fuck the man! Know what I needed? A fucking jigsaw and a can of paint, that’s what. Straight to the hardware store I went, to rent and buy these things, respectively.
I looked up online how to cut a circle with a jigsaw, which involved drawing a circle (I’m not a meth addict, that part was just surprisingly difficult and I was in a hurry for no good reason unless you count impatience), then cutting a lot of straight lines at increasingly smaller angles. Something about jigsaws working better with straight lines than curves. This is not an approach I’d really recommend, since mine came out looking significantly less than stellar. So don’t ask me how to do this properly, I still don’t know.
And wouldn’t you know it. That tabletop was a particleboard piece of crap anyway. Up yours, Barbara.
I painted the newly round tabletop with some oil-based white paint, when added an iron-on melamine edging to really top off this DIY shitshow. The final results were less than spectacular. In fact, they were pretty damn janky. The tabletop was almost laughably tiny and the intended round shape was never fully realized by my idiotic cutting technique. This, I decided, would be my stopgap measure until I came up with something better. I mean, at least it was white. And roundish. Better than vaguely wood-colored and vaguely rectangular, I still say.
Sometimes, I wonder if I’m actually the Make a Wish kid of scavenging, because no more than a week and a half later I was walking to the subway when I came upon a tabletop. It was white. It was round. It had a beveled edge. It was in the trash. I measured it with a dollar bill (fun fact! a dollar bill is exactly 6 inches long! put that in your pipe and smoke it.). It was the perfect size. I’m not a religious person, but it’s things like this that make me feel convinced of the existence of God. Or fairies. Maybe gnomes, but they seem slightly less plausible.
Here’s a crappy Instagram (see my feed here!) of it crammed into a cab because I was late and needed to hightail it home and then get right back to the subway. My life be busy, yo.
If you followed me on Twitter, you’d already be privy to exciting events like these.
Apparently it’s from CB2, and I’m guessing it came off of their Odyssey table. Fun facts!
And would ya look at that? Like it’s always been there. The finish is pretty scratched up and chipped along the edges and whatnot, but for free, I can handle that amount of “character.” I’ll probably end up repainting it at some point, but for now, I’m not going to jinx things with any more of my “handiwork” (see above).