Saturday, July 31, 2010


For the last six months, my husband has spent countless hours drawing up plans and lists of materials he’ll need to finally build tables for his model-train layout.

“I was awake half the night last night,” he said to me the other morning. He looked as if he’d spent the night being tortured – hair standing straight up on his head, dark circles under his eyes, pillow crease-marks on his face.

“Problems?” I asked him.

“I’ll say,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t know whether to put my campground next to my circus or my zoo. Which do you think would look better?”

I just stared at him.

“I’m talking about my model-train layout,” he said. “And what about my park with the gazebo? Should it be a city park or a country park? This is really stressful, you know!”

“Gee, I can just imagine,” I said. “I was awake the other night worrying about how much our property taxes are going to set us back, but that’s nothing compared to whether or not you should set up your glue factory next to your horse farm.”

“Well, you can joke about it if you want,” he said, “but it’s not easy to plan a whole miniature city. Everything has to fit together perfectly…it has to flow.”

When he found out that the lumber he’d need to build the tables he’d designed for his city was going to cost him about $300, he nearly needed a whiff of smelling salts.

“There’s no way I’m going to spend that much on lumber,” he said. “I’m going to look for some tables that are already built. And I don’t care if they’re old and used.”

When a computer search failed to turn up anything suitable, I asked Art, a local auctioneer, if he’d seen any 4’x8’ tables during his travels.

“I’ve got an old ping-pong table that might work,” he said. “I think it’s about 5’x10’, though.”

My husband’s interest was piqued, especially when Art said he could have the table for only $10. I was ready to snap up the offer right away, no matter what the table looked like. Heck, if it meant saving $290, I didn’t care if it had convicts’ names carved into it.

So last Friday afternoon, Art delivered the table to our house. When my husband saw it in the back of his truck, his eyes widened. For the price, he’d expected a flimsy, folding ping-pong table with aluminum legs. This table weighed about 150 pounds and had heavy metal legs…eight of them. The Incredible Hulk could have tap danced on it and not damaged it.

“I’ll need some help getting the table into the house,”Art said. “It weighs a ton!”

My husband, whose back sounds like bubble wrap popping when he lifts anything heavier than a cup of coffee, stared pleadingly at me.

Had I not been so eager for him to finally have a hobby other than singing and non-stop talking, I wouldn’t even have attempted to lift the monstrous table. But I figured a double hernia was a small price to pay for a few hours of blissful silence every day.

As Art and I struggled to lift the table up the front steps and onto the front porch, Art’s wife and my husband sat in the rocking chairs on the porch and watched us. They seemed so entertained, I was surprised they weren’t eating popcorn and drinking sodas.

“Got a rug we can put under the table?” Art asked me when we finally reached the doorway. “Then we can just slide the table on the rug down the hall to the train room.”

I dashed into the house and grabbed the hallway runner, then slid it underneath the table. Art just stood there staring at me.

Finally he said, “Um…you’ve got the rubber side down, which won’t slide anywhere. You’ll have to flip the rug over.”

I felt like an idiot. The rug, once I turned it over, worked great. We easily slid the table all the way down to the train room.

That night, my husband once again lost sleep, thinking about where he should set up the table.

“Should I put it in front of the windows, or against the wall on the right…or left?” he asked me. “Or should I put it right in the middle of the room so I can walk all the way around it? And do you think the height of it is OK, or should I put blocks under it to make it taller?”

So if you happen to see me walking all hunched over and wearing a hernia truss, you’ll know it’s because I’ve spent the past week constantly moving an Incredible-Hulk-sized table from one side of the room to the other.