It's sitting right there, a calmness in a sea of violence. A throng of people move in, out and around somehow missing the tranquility that is right in the middle, right at the eye of the storm. I must have that table, I have to have that table. There are no other tables.
I didn't want to come to this at first. I tried to decline, make polite excuses like my herpes is acting up. I would love to go to my daughter's school function, honestly I would, but it turns out that tonight is the night that I have my blood feud and so I must decline. Sincerely.
The school puts on functions from time to time. Come to our gym, give money for new shoelaces, book sale! To my credit, I do most of these. But the idea of going to a pretty small local restaurant and eating dinner really isn't doing it for me. The idea is simple: 10% of that night's earnings will go to the school. Sounds like a great deal. But here is what I knew also to be true: that it would be packed as a constipated pregnant lady. By the way, sorry for the crude joke but it was the only thing I could think of at the moment. It's a bit funny, for those ladies who have been 9 months pregnant and constipated, the term "packed" is appropriate.
Everyone from the school would come, grades K through 5. Their parents would come, their siblings would come, some would invite hobos from the street. They would all sit down and eat their roast beast and bang on their flew-flewbers and blow on their tah-tinkers. Noise, noise, noise! I can relate to the Grinch.
However my daughter rejected my excuses, as she should have. I was being a pussy and she was calling me out on it. Suck it up Pops, it's for the school and the community. So we went the whole time my wife giving me a disapproving look for being against family fun and community.
When we arrived, I was right, it was packed. I sighed and then put some antlers on a dog. I didn't say "I told you so" but I should have, just for the satisfaction. It would have fit my current mood.
But looking through the window, I saw the table, the lone refuge amongst the chaos. Clean and seating four, it was the most beautiful table I had ever seen. Magnificent, pristine, free. I knew in my heart, which was now growing, that there would be no stains on this table. There would be no hidden smudges of mustard on the chairs or ketchup grim on the edges. Looking at it, I could almost see the heavenly light that showed me the way while hiding it from all others.
Now I was excited and quickly rushed my family inside. They have seen that the spirit of school functions have finally touched me although they have no idea that it's in the form of a free table. We get to the counter and I tell Hossmom to just order. She asks me where I am going and I briefly hesitate to tell her about my mistress: the table. So I yell "table!" through the crowd. She asks me what I want. "I don't care, something!" I say and I am off down the snow covered mountains that is the packed counter space.
At this point, the table is more important than the food. Besides, chances are one of my kids will chunk whatever I get on the floor while they refuse to sit still. I know the drill and I know what matters. Sitting down to dinner is much better than standing in a corner looking aimlessly over a packed dinning room. The awkwardness of such situations is brutal, like saying that somehow you don't belong in that particular dining room. It's the grown up equivalent of "seat taken" on the Forrest Gump bus.
I get to the table, it's still there. I was prepared to eject any 10 year old that might be saving it for his own family but it wasn't necessary. I am not proud and I'm sure I will have to answer one day for these impure thoughts.
But no one is there, everyone bypasses it for some reason. I have no idea why, I don't care. So I do my table move, the one we all do. The move that says I desperately want this table but don't want to appear to want this space because that would make me a dick to push people out of the way. I look around, am I looking for someone? No, it's just part of the act. I check the four corners, why? No reason, just the routine. Then bam, I'm down and the table has been claimed. The only table in the entire place and it is mine. It's space is mine, it's very essence of it is mine. I feel like I need a smoke.
The family comes soon after with loads of food that it takes to feed my family. Perhaps 40% of this will be consumed as is also our habit. Buy high, trash high. Good old dad does his best to clear all the plates but there is only so much to come around.
"Dad, you found a table!" my family roars, basking in my victory. I share it with them although deep down I know that it belongs only to me. Everyone sits down and tears into food that they will soon all reject because they know that when they are "done" that ice cream will soon follow. I'm to tired from my efforts to argue this today. Today is about the table and me.
We will sit, we will talk and laugh. We will say hi to my daughters school friends and their Grinch fathers. We will clean up our space, wipe up any spills and leave the table for the next one that has the calling. We will walk out the door and I will look back into the window, saying goodbye as I watch the table floating calmly through the sea of chaos we are leaving behind.