These are the people who are often derided for their use of plastic slipcovers, or couch condoms, to prevent their sofas from having unprotected sits.
Yet those in our generation who would chuckle at the adhesive power that clear plastic exerts upon bare thighs, think nothing of covering a dining room table with all manner of mats, pads, and linens.
As I’ve mentioned a few times in this blog, we have a new dining room table. It is very pretty, and very shiny, and it will no doubt get scratched through everyday use. Our new car is also pretty and shiny, and will also get scratched through every day use. But the car, which cost five or six times as much as the table, and which has the additional disadvantage of being exposed to the elements, has no protection.
So, my question is, what’s the big deal with dining room tables?
They are furniture, not museum pieces. If you’re going to entirely cover them every time you have company, then you might as well buy something from IKEA for a couple of hundred bucks, purchase a really nice table cloth, and spend the difference on food to put on it. I mean, at least you could see the couch through the plastic slipcovers.
Furniture is meant to be used, not protected to preserve its resale value. To me, scrambling to get protection under anything that might be put on the table (“Wait, don’t put down that heavy and extremely hot platter until I find a trivet!”), and gritting my teeth any time someone slides a pitcher across the wood, interferes with my enjoyment of the furniture, not to mention the dinner.
Barbara agrees with me philosophically that the table should be used and not treasured, but in practice she takes it as a challenge to protect the new table as she would a child, if the child was highly polished.
So the first time we had company, she tried to split the difference. Instead of using the $300 table pad we had purchased with the table, and covering that with a table cloth, she strategically deployed an elaborate pattern of place mats so that our guests could see the lovely grain peeking out while, hopefully, not actually touching it with a hard object.
It would be much easier to just cover the damn thing with clear plastic!
Except that, apparently, that wouldn’t solve the bigger problem. One of our guests sadistically pointed out that the table should really be fully covered all the time, not to prevent scratching, but to limit fading from the sunlight coming through a nearby window. We not only had to be afraid of using the table; we had to be afraid of exposing it to the sun, as if it is a vampire table!
I believe the table survived its first dinner party unscathed. But I may have to key it (or whatever the furniture equivalent of that is–“forking it up,” perhaps?) sometime soon just so we can stop worrying about it getting damaged and go on with our lives.
See you soon.