When my husband and I first got married, we had a serious case of The Poors.
Honestly? We didn’t mind all that much. After all, a lot of newlyweds come down with The Poors. Especially newlyweds who’ve had to max out their credit cards in order to pay for all their own wedding festivities and honeymoon travel. Newlyweds still paying down thousands upon thousands of dollars in student loans, car loans, and loans from The Bank of Dad. Newlyweds enjoying a combined household income that most people would very generously describe as “Aw. Bless.”
You know. Newlyweds like us.
It wasn’t the best of times, I’ll admit, but neither was it the worst of times. We were young. We were in love. We were in a constant state of naked-times. We had more important things to do with our time than sit around bumming out about our financial situation. So we just learned to do more with less.
One of the ways we cut down on expenses was to upcycle furniture that was destined for the landfill. Which is why, about a month after we got hitched, my husband showed up at our apartment with an old table that was sturdy and functional, but in desperate need of some tender loving care. His intent was to sand it, paint it, seal it, and then use it as a desk in his home office.
“Fine,” I said.
“Sounds good,” I said.
“Go for it,” I said.
“This will in no way be a humongous disaster,” I said.
And I didn’t give it another thought.
My husband started renovating the table on a warm Friday evening. The process took three full days, but when it was finally finished on late Sunday afternoon, I had to admit that all of the effort had been worth it. I was summoned to the back patio, where I pronounced the table glorious.
After about five minutes of praising my husband and his glorious table, I returned to where I prefer to spend my balmy Sunday evenings – inside. However, in an unusual nod to my arch-nemesis The Outdoors, I decided to live a little and open all of the windows. Which is why, about an hour later, I heard with crystal clarity every single word of the filth that suddenly began pouring from my husband’s mouth.
Delightful turns of phrase such as “GOD FUCKING DAMN IT!” and “SON OF A BITCH!” began floating in through my bedroom window, along with several obscenities of a decidedly more international flavor. And since long profane rants are not normal behavior for my husband, I became a little concerned about what I was hearing.
Still, I wasn’t truly and seriously alarmed until I heard the gigantic CLUNK. And the THUNK THUNK.
And the CHUNK.
I didn’t know for certain, but it sure sounded a lot like someone was flinging a table all over the back patio with a surprising amount of force. I jumped out of bed and ran outside to assess the situation, and there in front of me was a tableau I will never forget. The glorious table had been up-ended in the corner of the patio, and my husband, sweaty and shirtless, was standing next to it with a look in his eyes that I can only describe as “CUH-RAZY.” The expression on his face was one of unequivocal rage.
At first I didn’t understand exactly what I was seeing, primarily because it was starting to get dark, and also because the table was lying on its side, way off in a shadowy corner of the patio. But once my eyes adjusted and my brain processed the scene in front of me, I realized that the paint on the table had started to peel and bubble. And I’m not talking about a bubble here, a bubble there – I’m talking about a massive amount of huge, swollen, fuck-you-and-all-your-hard-work-because-there-is-absolutely-no-fixing-this-shit bubbles.
“What happened?” I gasped.
“I sealed it,” spat my husband.
“With what? Hydrochloric acid?”
He ignored this, pushing past me and making his way into the house. I followed.
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Do we have an axe?” He was in the kitchen now, squatting in front of the cabinet beneath the sink and rummaging through its contents.
“What about a hatchet?”
He didn’t respond. He just kept on scrabbling around underneath the sink.
It turned out that my husband had used a spray sealant that didn’t play well with the kind of paint he’d used on the table. Rather than acting as a sealant, it had acted as a solvent, and almost as soon as he’d finished spraying it on the table, the paint had started to bubble and crack. All of the sanding and painting he had done over the course of the weekend was instantly ruined.
My husband, unable to locate the hatchet we didn’t actually own, finally stood up from his crouching position in front of the sink. He looked around the kitchen with wild eyes, riotous hair, and a disconcertingly unhinged look on his face. And as his eyes lit upon the knife block, I realized what he was going to do.
“Don’t,” I cautioned him.
He just looked at me.
“Seriously,” I said. “Don’t.”
But it was too late. The decision had already been made.
My husband grabbed the largest knife we had – a gleaming 10-inch butcher knife – and made his way to the back patio with purpose and determination. I trailed behind, knowing that at this point there was nothing I could say or do, and when we got outside, my husband up-righted the offending table with what seemed like super-human strength.
And that’s when he stabbed it.
Look. Unless you are in some sort of dive bar full of sketchy criminal types and you need to make the point that YOU ARE NOT TO BE MESSED WITH, there is absolutely NO acceptable reason to stab a table with a knife. None. And even if there were other acceptable reasons, I’m fairly sure “being pissed off that some shitty sealant messed up my paint job” would not be one of them. But my brand-new husband, normally one of the sweetest men on earth, had clearly left reason behind.
Fortunately, the act of stabbing the table with the butcher knife seemed to satisfy my husband’s urge to turn the whole thing into a pile of urine-soaked kindling, and in the dim light of the back patio he turned to me.
“Now I have to start all over,” he said sadly.
“Yes,” I agreed. “But not tonight.”
“Oh no,” he responded, his jaw set in an expression of grim resolve. “Tonight.”
He took the entire next day off of work to fix the wreckage he had caused, but not before staying up until three o’clock in the A.M. in an adrenaline-fueled attempt to strip down the ruined table. He used the electric sander until around midnight, when our neighbors started to complain, at which point he thoughtfully switched over to sandpaper blocks.
But not before kindly informing the neighbors that if they didn’t shut their fucking mouths he was going to come over there and sand their faces off.
“Tattooed Sailor”: Two sailors aboard the American battleship USS New Jersey in 1944. Date 12/1944. Source: http://arcweb.archives.gov/arc/arch_results_detail.jsp?&pg=197&si=0&st=b&rp=digital&nh=481 Photographed by Fenno Jacobs. Department of Defense. Department of the Navy. Naval Photographic Center. This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the ARC Identifier 520883. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code. — Modified