Once we moved here and got our daughter settled into her first year of college, I decided that it was way past time for my house to be furnished in something other than "Early American Student." I've been married over 20 years and though I've been pretending to be an adult for significantly longer, I still didn't have a single room in my home with furniture that actually matched--unless you count (which I don't) the matching couch and loveseat in my living room that I got hugely on sale for $500 a few years ago and which started to deflate within mere seconds of their arrival in my house. Besides, after 15-20 years, most of what we had was falling apart anyway. Moving became a great excuse to clear away the chaff in our lives. And by "chaff" I mean "furniture that is too crappy to bother moving." For example, I dragged my $80 dining set with the heavily gouged veneer and unstable legs and what was left of the wobbly chairs to the curb. We left behind a disintegrating grill on the deck. (We're just generous that way.) There were several trips to Goodwill, whose good will declined dramatically with each additional load of my used junk that arrived on their doorstep.
Even so, everything that made it to Georgia was still either pretty mismatched or coming apart. My bedroom boasted my daughter's old Jenny Lind dresser, which had peeling veneer paper at the bottom from water that had leaked into the house once, as well as another small chest of drawers (with a matching nightstand!), a small white K-Mart Special nightstand (the one I dropped on my toe), and a bed on nothing but rails--no headboard of any kind. In my living room are two microfiber couches (which I discovered were cheap for a reason) that create static charges large enough to shut down laptops every winter, a glider rocker that used to be in my girl's nursery, white plastic folding tables for laptops in lieu of a coffee table, and a small round glass-topped table with screw-in legs that are eternally off-balance. The television sits on the bottom half of an old entertainment center, also with water damage at the bottom, that was given to us by family friends when they chose to replace it because of the damage. The top half is long since gone. In the dining room I had my mother-in-law's big wooden table and ten chairs, which is somewhat laughable for a family of three that doesn't entertain. It was a wonderful table, and I remember a great many enjoyable meals around it; however, until it arrived here, I was unaware of its true condition since I'd rarely seen it without a tablecloth. Not unlike with my cheapo table, the decades of serving a family of six had taken their toll on the table's stability. It wouldn't stay tightly together without the 5 leaves (if you could call them that) and one pedestal leg was forever unscrewed and wobbly, no matter how often I tightened it.
The rest of my house was much the same, with mismatched bookshelves and storage devices in virtually every room. Sure, we stopped using the milk crates as shelving a few years ago (though there are still several in the garage and in the basement), nor have I ever allowed concrete block shelving inside the house, but the effect was much the same: Early American Student. A hodge-podge of whatever devices we could beg, borrow, or
Bit by bit, I have been working on rectifying this situation. I figure now that my kid is in college, I should have grown-up furniture and let her enjoy the privilege of possessing the Frankenstein furnishings of the average co-ed. Slowly but surely I have been selling off the larger items, both by garage sale and through Craigslist. I finally found someone to take the last dresser (and matching nightstand!), but the woman who purchased them could not fit both in her car. As a result, we loaded up the nightstand and made arrangements for her brother-in-law to come in his truck one day for the dresser.
Keep in mind that I am now more or less fully healed, barring the still-blackened toenail on my left foot, so there's no reason anyone should worry about my physical well-being. I went out to the garage and pulled the dresser (it's only a five-drawer bureau) to the middle of the garage to make it more accessible for loading. Eventually the brother-in-law shows up not in a truck but in a small SUV/midget station wagon. He moves some stuff around to make room and I have to encourage him to fold down at least one of the back seats, which he does. He then goes to the dresser, looks dubiously at it (seriously--it isn't that big. I could pick it up myself if I weren't too busy protecting exposed toes), sighs, and starts to grab the top. I leaned over to pick up the bottom so that we could carry it to his car. Big mistake, apparently. The guy kinda panicked, telling me that he could get it himself. Given the fact that he seemed stumped by how to pick the thing up in the first place, I had my doubts, so I told him I didn't mind and tried again to grab the bottom. He begged me to stop, for fear that I might "damage my girl parts and not be able to have more children." Dude. Please. Are you serious? I'm freaking 46 years old--do I look like I want another baby at this point in my life? That last time I heard something that, I was 16 or 17 and picking up a stack of cast iron baking trays at the bakery where I worked when one of my clueless teen colleagues grabbed the trays from me for the same reason. What exactly is the deal with men thinking that a woman's uterus is somehow going to shoot violently out of her body like a greased greyhound if she lifts more than five pounds at a time? I mean I realize that men do not possess the parts in question, but it seems to me that basic high school biology should be sufficient to impart the knowledge that the average womb is not attached to a woman via chewing gum or Scotch tape or some other equally implausible adhesive. I could see fearing that I would get a hernia, but considering that many women routinely lug around children weighing 20-30 lbs or more, it seems highly unlikely that hefting a similar dead weight is going to render me incapable of conception or make my uterus drop from between my thighs and scuttle off into a corner somewhere like the remains of Lord Voldemort.
I honestly wasn't sure whether to be insulted and appalled or just to laugh hysterically at the man's misplaced and misinformed concern. In the end, I merely said something along the lines of "Dude. I'm 46. I don't think that's really gonna be a concern here." And even if it were, at this point in my life I'd be more than happy for my uterus to fall out. That would be one less hassle I'd have to handle every month--I'm just sayin'. Eventually the guy capitulated, but only because he couldn't figure out how to move the thing by himself. Clean and jerk is such a difficult concept, after all. So we hoisted it up and carried it to the car, where I ended up directing him how to rearrange the crap in his car to make it fit (I have mad packing skillz, yo). I think he was more than a little surprised at how relatively easily I lifted the dresser (full-figured does not mean frail, dude); to his credit he did thank me for helping, saying he didn't think he could have done it by himself (duh). Best of all, I managed to complete the task safely and without loss of life, limb, or reproductive organs. I'm sure he was very relieved.
Perhaps in future I should carry around a great big cork in my purse or pocket so that the next time someone foolishly suggests I shouldn't lift something for fear of damaging my reproductive capabilities I can whip it out and brandish it in the hapless person's face, saying, "Nope--it's all good--I'm prepared. No falling uteri here! Now could you turn around while I cork things up?"
I'd pay good money to see the look on that guy's face.