Back Article published Sep 21, 2004
A few years ago, I bought an “antique” coffee table which, because of its size, my husband refers to as “the ark.” The table is made of solid wood, measures four feet in length and three feet in width, has two big drawers and a cabinet under it and weighs about two tons. If we ever need an extra bed, we probably could toss a mattress on top of the coffee table and use it for the frame.
So last week, my husband was less than enthusiastic when I mentioned that I wanted to flip our reversible braided rug that’s in the living room.
“Doesn’t that mean we’ll have to move the ark?” he asked.
“It has wheels on it,” I said. “We can just push it out of the way, flip the rug over, and then push it back.”
It sounded simple enough. But then, nothing I do ever goes smoothly…and my rug-flipping idea was about to prove to be no exception.
“Empty everything out of the drawers first,” my husband said.
I had been hoping that emptying the ark wouldn’t be necessary. Those drawers contained six years’ worth of books, paperwork, CDs, floppy disks, magazines, newspapers, catalogs, videos and probably the body of the former owner.
I emptied everything out of the two huge drawers and stacked it on top of the table. “There! All set!” I said.
My husband rolled his eyes. “Put all that junk on the sofa or someplace else. The table is still going to weigh the same whether the junk is on top of it or inside it!”
He had a point.
So I stacked everything on the sofa, the TV and the stereo, all of which sat outside the borders of the rug and wouldn’t have to be moved. Then my husband grabbed one end of the table and I grabbed the other. He dragged it backward while I pushed it forward.
To the left of our front door is the doorway to our spare room. Somehow, my husband and I managed to wedge the table partway into that doorway. My end of the table was up against the front door, while my husband’s end was partially in the spare room. That meant that he had no way to get out of the room until we moved the table back onto the rug.
“Looks like you’ll have to flip the rug yourself,” my husband said from the other side of the coffee table. “I’m trapped in here.”
The rug, a heavy 8’x11’ monstrosity, refused to cooperate as I struggled to flip it. At one point, I actually was standing completely underneath it. I looked like a rug-covered Halloween ghost. “I can’t do this alone!” I cried, my voice muffled beneath the rug.
My husband sighed. “Let me try to climb over the table, then.” He managed to get one knee up onto the table, but when he tried to get the other one up there, he stopped dead. His body suddenly bent like a horseshoe.
“I think I just pulled something!” he said.
“Well, just stay where you are!” I ordered, as if he had any other choice. “I’ll handle the rug myself.” After several more attempts, the clean, unworn, unfaded underside of the rug finally emerged, facing upward. I was so happy, I wanted to break out the champagne. The rug, however, was off-center.
My husband, still hunched over, shouted directions: “A little to the left! No, no – a little to the right!” as I dragged the rug all over the living room. Finally, he said, “That’s close enough. Come on, let’s move this table back before my legs go completely numb!”
That’s when I discovered that I was better at pushing than I was at pulling. In fact, I couldn’t pull the ark at all. I tugged as hard as I could while my husband pushed and still, we couldn’t get it to move an inch. It turned out that the scatter rug in front of the door was bunched up underneath it. That’s when I made one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever made (and believe me, I’ve made plenty).
“Let’s see if we can lift it!”
I could tell by my husband’s expression that he was expecting to be in traction at any moment. Nevertheless, he said, “Okay, on the count of three, we’ll both lift!”
He started counting. I wasn’t concentrating, so I lifted my end on “two” instead of “three.” When he lifted his end, I dropped mine…right on my big toe. Even worse, two of the wheels fell off the table.
Actually, the table landed on the very tip of my toenail, but I screamed and danced as if it had crushed my entire foot. The attempted lift also proved to be my husband’s demise. The minute he tried, his back made sounds like corn popping.
If anyone passing by at that moment had heard all of the moaning and groaning coming from our house, they probably would have thought we were having a really hot time, not preparing to dial 911.
“So we can’t budge this table and I can’t climb over it,” my husband said. “What’ll we do now?”
“I’m going to call Tewy,” I said.
Tewy, our neighbor for over 30 years, had come to our rescue on more occasions than we even could begin to count. I went to the phone and dialed his number.
He came right over.
“What’s wrong with the front door?” he asked the moment he stepped in through the back one. When he spotted the table wedged up against the door and my husband hunched over and grasping his back, he figured it out pretty fast.
“I think I have both a double hernia and a slipped disk,” my husband said to him, groaning for effect. “I also think I’m going to be stuck in here forever. Just throw some food at me now and then, okay?”
Tewy laughed, shook his head, walked over, and with Herculean strength, lifted the coffee table. “Where do you want it?” he asked.
My husband and I looked incredulously at each other. Tewy proved what we already knew. We were weaklings, wimps. Even more embarrassing was the fact that Tewy’s a great-grandfather, not some young kid.
And now that everything is back in its place and the braided rug has been flipped, I am going to cover it with clear plastic and never let a shoe touch it again.
And then I’m going to ask Tewy to adopt us.