Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On Good Men and Good Bargains

Living in a 1930-ish house with a big open front porch, makes me think of one thing: wicker furniture.

Two houses ago, we were also living in a 1930-ish house and unfortunately, never got to actually put wicker on that front porch. So, I decided recently that this house would be different.

I was looking everywhere for this special furniture. Newspaper, craigslist, garage sales, etc. I wanted a small set (since the porch isn't huge) but it had to be in the right price range. I just didn't know where that range was though. Wicker is expensive and I didn't want to be expensive but I did want the wicker still. The lower the price range, the better. I knew brand new probably wouldn't be much of a deal so I took on the challenge of finding a good deal second hand.

The day we moved to this house, a yard sale in town advertised the perfect set. Not too big; not too little. I never did find out the price though: I had enough furniture to move that day, I wasn't looking for anymore to put in my van.

So, the wicker set was put off. Again.

And then I found out through the neighborhood gossip line that the particular resident of that home where the wicker furniture set had sold, was the guy that locked his wife up in her own house. I was really glad I didn't buy his wicker -- who knows what curses would've come upon my already snake infested yard.

While driving around this past weekend, we stumbled on a junky yard sale full of stuffed animals and fake wood furniture sitting in an overgrown yard. For some reason I got out. I never go to garage sales like that.

And then I saw it: a run down, over used set of wicker furniture spread haphazardly around the shabby yard. No price tag was on it so I wondered if it was even for sale.

The seller said she'd give it to me for $10. Can't get much lower in a price range than $10, I thought.

It was a small table, magazine rack and 2 cozy chairs. And all but the magazine holder were in great need of paint. Looking back, I probably could've offered her $5 for the entire set because she was moving out of state that evening and what didn't fit in her car wasn't going with her. But $10 to me still sounded good. So I gave it to her.

We squeezed the almost rotting furniture in the new vacuumed van and bemoaned all the white paint flecks peppering the once clean carpet. I shrugged my shoulders and slammed the hatch, knowing that another visit to the vacuum hose down the street would fix the problem. It was a small price to pay for wicker furniture anyway.

I called Toby on my way home and bragged about my good deal. He didn't seem to relate to my joys but I just chalked it up to the fact that he wasn't the one that had been looking for wicker furniture for the past 27 months. Nor had I ever told him how badly I wanted such furniture.

You see, Toby has this thing where when he hears that I want/need something, he'll get it for me the first time he sees it. He always has a good reason why what he got was a good deal, the perfect time to get it, etc. He's just too nice though and I did NOT want him doing that with this furniture. I wanted the pleasure of finding a good bargain. Of rescuing something that was neglected. Of proving beauty can come from ashes. I wanted the challenge of tranforming something of no worth into something of value. And I wanted a bargain. So, I never told him my dream.

I got home but left the furniture in the van. I was worried about one thing: what would my husband say? Even though I already told him about it, I still worried about what he'd say.

Being 9 months pregnant and having my hands full of a ton of important things right now and definitely not needing some unnecessary project to tackle, I knew he'd be thinking a little bit more on the logical side than I was. "You just don't have time for extra stuff, Dear," would be the tone in his reproving voice.

Later that afternoon, he helped me move the stuff from the van. When we got to the prized find of the day, I was surprised at his reaction. I knew he wouldn't be excited but I didn't think he'd take it this hard either. We began an important practice of communication: he told me what he thought and I didn't have to wonder what he was thinking.

"What are you doing with this junk, honey?" he asked with concern as he picked up a chair only to have it drop out old dirt and paint. "What were you thinking?" he asked me, his brow definitely depicting curiosity but also tinged with a where-am-I-going-to-store-this-rotting-trash look on his face.

I guess he doesn't like it, I concluded.

"I can't believe you'd spend $10 on junky pieces of furniture like this," he said as he casually inspected what used to be a nice chair. "This is junk," he said with finality in his voice and turned and hauled the furniture up on the porch.

Wow. I knew what he was thinking.

My heart sank. He could totally not see the future of these beautiful chairs. He could not feel the reason in my creative heart for why I rescued them. Still, I was wishing I had offered $5 instead of giving her $10.

He set the dusty, rough, grayish, once white chairs and table on the clean porch floor. I had to prove they were somewhat still nice so I arranged them attractively. Quickly the chairs were in place and the table tucked between them.

"See!" I pointed out, "We can have it just like this," I said as I put the final touch on the beautiful rotting pieces of junk. Clumps of dirt and paint dusted the floor, definitely not helping me make a good impression on my husband.

"Whatever," he said as he headed in the house. Obviously, I was going to have to do more to prove to myself and my dear husband that this was a good buy. I think by now he was wishing I would've just saved the $10 and put it towards a good set for $100.

A dozen cans of spray paint and a bristle brush waited to be used on these slowly fading pieces of beauty. I had to rescue them soon. If not for there sake, definitely for mine: Toby had to know I hadn't totally lost my mind.

I brushed the chairs and table down and realized that they really weren't as bad as they looked, once you shook the dirt loose and brushed off the gazillion paint flecks. Isn't weathered and rugged a unique style anyway? This set of furniture definitely fit that description.

A very talented angel of mercy painstakingly spray painted everything after I finished brushing the loose paint off. Since I couldn't inhale all those fumes for the sake of my baby, Britt offered to do the job. We were both sweetly surprised when extra help arrived and sprayed an entire can on one chair. Yes, Toby came around and showed that maybe there was a little faith left in his line of vision for these fading chairs.

In about an hour, the entire set was completed. And it was beautiful.

We rearranged them back on the porch, propping flower pots and blooming plants around the cheery wicker.

For $10, Toby agrees that it was a definite bargain. And I'm glad. I really do like wicker furniture and I'm glad he does too.




BrittLeigh said...

One measley can of spray paint was all Toby could handle, if I remember correctly... I'm tougher than him. (His theory that my being blond reduces the amount of brains for the fumes to hurt and therefore I can tolerate it longer is totally irrelevant.)

Happymama said...

Love your furniture. Y'all did a great job on the set.

I do love a story of hope, faith, and a little elbow grease.



Anonymous said...

aw you guys are a cute couple! great job!