Mr. Big Stuff

walnut and marble topped Eastlake Vanity Dresser circa 1880

For the record, I think I am delightful.

Mr. Wonderful, however, may beg to differ.

This is the copy of an actual text I sent him recently. “Okay, remember that time you bought a plasma cutter and a powder coating machine?  Well, this costs almost nothing compared to that, but it needs to be picked up … in three hours.”

His reply: “?”

You see, I had fallen in love. I didn’t mean to. It happened suddenly as these things often do.

I had some time to waste between a hair salon appointment and a dental appointment. I was considering taking the car for an oil change but honestly, I didn’t feel like spending the money. So I stopped at the thrift store instead. I generally find this thrift store more than a little overpriced. I’m all for turning a profit, but this place will sell used air fresheners for $2 (yes, really). I felt safe going “just to browse.” I am rarely seduced by the siren song of old Tupperware for $10 or broken lamps for $40. I go just to jog my memory with the 1970s and 1980s era housewares so I can be flush with nostalgia. Sometimes I send my mother photos “omgosh, we owned this!” Most of the time she replies back: “I still do.”


I was just strolling the aisles of mushroom-shaped cookie jars, gummy food storage containers that smell vaguely of tomato sauce past, and dusty dried flowers in tarnished brass containers. Then I spied it. In a pile of furniture from the various eras, mixed among the old pine hutch, card table, and a pressboard coffee table, there it was. I am pretty sure I stopped breathing for a second. I was looking straight at an authentic, burled walnut and marble-topped Eastlake Vanity Dresser circa 1880. Magnificent would be an understatement. This was, quite possibly, the most ridiculously detailed and completely over-the-top piece of furniture I had ever seen.

I was in love.

It should be noted that I have long had a deep fondness for ridiculous pieces. If something is overly large, overly ornate, and just serves no useful purpose — I probably want it. Badly.

Fortunately, I married a man with an incredible sense of humor. I don’t really need “permission” to purchase, but I did need him to show up with our truck. Hence the text. I also telephoned him to really drive the point home that this was TRUE LOVE. Not that fake infatuation that caused me to drag home a giant mirror that I’m already over just six weeks later. I could already tell with this new piece it would be forever.

Mr. Wonderful arrived, a white knight in his white truck. He and a helpful employee loaded the vanity and matching mirror into said truck. For the record: it almost did not fit in the space of an eight-foot pickup truck bed. This was, perhaps, my first clue that objects in thrift store warehouses may be larger than they appear.

Once home we unloaded this piece, weighing only slightly less than a truck, into the foyer. Our foyer is one of the key spaces that sold me on our house. We have a central stairway that is open on both sides, a beautifully detailed wainscot, and a general air of being much fancier than an Appalachian farmhouse really should be. I am pretentious and accordingly, I love this space very much.

I knew exactly where I wanted this piece. I had envisioned it from the moment we “met.” First, I had to move an equally lovely, albeit smaller, piece. I told you I have a problem.

Imagine Mr. Wonderful’s delight when he asked me to empty the drawers so we could move the current piece out of the way. “Oh it’s already empty,” I said. He looked at me with realization slowly dawning, “so we have a new piece of furniture to replace another piece of furniture that we clearly do not need?”

Yes, dear, we do. “Need” has never been part of this equation.

We huffed and puffed and slid this massive beauty into place. Almost. As it turns out it is exactly three inches too big for the only wall where it can possibly go — or not.

We are now on day three of simply walking around it. I am not worried at all. I am not giving up.

Mr. Wonderful is a problem solver. Generally, the problem being my big ideas and even bigger projects. Using my vast resources of engineering knowledge (none), I feel like the mirror could be lowered slightly. Granted, I have zero idea what I’m talking about but I really feel like it could work.

My advice: marry a partner with a good sense of adventure — and good humor — for good measure.


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