I drove home from the beach late yesterday afternoon, dropped my luggage off at the house, greeted my German Shepherd, and then immediately headed back out to downtown Birmingham to file for “homestead.” As soon as I’d pulled BACK up at home, Charlie exited the house and met me at the top of the driveway right as I was opening my car door.
“Hey,” he smiled down at me. “How’d it go?”
“GREAT! I’m glad to have it over with,” I smiled back at him.
“I was just about to head out for orange juice and chocolate milk because I know you won’t last through the night without them.”
“You are SO sweet. Can I come with you?”
“Hop in my car!” He answered.
We drove to the Publix down the road and, just as we were pulling in to the shopping plaza, I spotted an antique shop next door to it: Brass Bear.
“OH, CAN WE PLEASE STOP IN THERE?” I exclaimed quickly, excitedly pointing my finger in the direction of the shop.
“I noticed that this place opened up a few months ago, but I’m always at work during its business hours,” I explained further.
Charlie aligned his head with the direction of my pointing finger and located the joint. “Of course!”
So we walked in together and spent a solid hour walking down each aisle; rummaging through old bins, eyeing vintage writing desks with chipped edges and secret surprise drawers, and keeping an eye out for any stools (my recent obsession).
After about forty minutes, I stumbled upon an old-fashioned, metal-bottom, smooth-top diner table. It struck my fancy.
The only thing I didn’t love about it was the fact that it was red.
“Why?” Charlie asked. “Why do you dislike that it’s red?”
“Because red isn’t my favorite color.” Duh.
I decided to keep moving along and continued meandering through the rest of the store. I ended up toting a tin “Indian Motorcycle Club” sign around with me because it was impossible to resist and, as Charlie and I finished scoping out the very last aisle, he turned around to look at me.
“I know what you want,” he stated confidently.
“That BLUE STOOL and the RED TABLE.”
It was true that I’d set my sights on a blue stool because said stool was
B. close to the ground (perfect for guitar playing), and
C. had a yellow rocketship and other cosmic shit painted onto it,
but I’d abandoned the idea of purchasing said stool because the artist had ALSO painted “mom’s stool” in bold yellow font across the top of the stool. And I still can’t, for the life of me, figure out why on earth anyone would do that. I could easily paint over it, of course, but the mere knowledge that it was, originally or previously, a “mom stool” made it seem much less attractive to me.
But the table.
“I do feel this interesting.. pull towards that table.” I paused. “Let’s just go look at it one more time,” I decided.
I power-walked over to the aisle I’d first seen it on and it was, to my relief, still there, partially covered with and slightly obscured by a tacky, pink model of a convertible, a candle, and an old DVD set.
I gently pushed the items out of the way and wiped my hand across the table’s surface. It felt nice.
I bent down to look at the metal foundation and the rusty, securing hardware.
“Look..” I began. “I think that I’m drawn to this table because, first of all, it’s got that 60’s diner feel to it that I like. I’ve been wanting a table like this one.”
“Right,” Charlie murmured acknowledgement.
“And for some strange, strange reason, it reminds me of a soda fountain machine. Like.. at a gas station.”
We both stood there, staring at it. Then, it clicked.
“Specifically,” I corrected myself, smiling, “it reminds me of Dr. Pepper. That color. That color is VERY similar to the color on the wallpaper of that soda.”
To refresh your memory..
“Yeahhhhh!” Charlie agreed. “It really is similar.”
“And that was Bobby’s favorite beverage. Therefore, this table is coming home with me.”
I purchased the table (and the motorcycle sign) at the front counter and then texted my best friend, Chris, asking him if he’d be able to pick the table up tomorrow.
“I’ll help you! Np.”
He picked it up this afternoon AND lugged it into the house for me while I was at work. Wanna see it?
Here’s a closer look..
Since selling practically all of my furniture last year, I’ve been living a very minimalist lifestyle. And I like it. A lot. Basically, my bedroom has some stuff in it (a bed, two red bookcases, two stools, my writing desk and some music gear), and every other room in the house is empty (with the exception of some potted plants in the kitchen and, in the upstairs nook by the window, the first dinette set Chris and I ever purchased together at JCPenney and which I intend to keep forever).
The point of this? I am now the proud owner of a Dr. Pepper-themed diner table, and every time I sit at the table, I’m going to think of my brother, Bobby. When I mosey through the house and pass by the table, or stop to sit down and enjoy a meal at it, I’m going to remember to enjoy the smallest things in this world, because it was those incredibly small things (like playing tennis at the rec center down the street, ordering garlic knots at the local pizza joint, and filling up his Big Gulp cup at the 7-eleven down the road) that made him so very happy. I want to be like him. Life is short, and an epileptic brain cancer survivor with severe mental and physical limitations – who lived a tragically short life – found it so easy, so natural, and so effortless to be happy and grateful. That was Bobby’s default: being happy. I’m proud to say that it’s my default, too.
Disclaimer: I wouldn’t recommend pouring Dr. Pepper into a Big Gulp cup because that soda is poison. Maybe opt for some organic, unpasteurized OJ instead?