Just Like Phoebe Caulfield Would

I love my desk. I just love it so much for what it is and how it makes me feel. I’ve been madly in love with it ever since I saved it from impending landfill doom six years ago…

Just another muggy summer afternoon. The air was thick with humidity and I could feel beads of sweat rolling down my back as I walked home from the bus stop. I was living at home with my parents again for the summer, working the same crummy minimum wage job at the salon. Finishing a rare morning shift–usually I had to work nights and close the joint up–I was looking forward to an evening unburdened by that responsibility. As I walked home, pondering possible ways to spend my free time that night, I noticed a big brown rectangle up ahead. Something past it’s prime that had been put out to curb, but I couldn’t make out what it was. I suspected an old dining room table, but couldn’t be sure. I kept walking toward my house, I’d be able to see it more clearly once I got close. Sure enough, it turned out to be a desk. Just sitting on the curb in front of a house up the street from ours.

I needed a desk for my room, so maybe I could have this one. I tossed my backpack on our front lawn and wandered up the street to check it out. I wasn’t getting my hopes up, furniture that’s been sent to the curb is usually busted, disgusting, or horribly outdated. But once in a while you can rummage something good up at the curb, and it was in my broke student nature at the time to salvage things instead of buy them if I could. So, maybe it would be worth a look.

My jaw-dropped and my heart fluttered in breathless unity when I finally got a good look at it. It was absolutely perfect in every way. Not perfect in the pristine sense; I saw its perfection in both its remarkable size and in my immediate attraction to it. It had a couple of minor dings, but that was fine by me. Those little scratches and bumps only lent it more appeal. My eyes gorged themselves on the enormous fake wood panelled monstrosity before me. It was everything I’d always dreamed of in a desk. Ever since the first time I read The Catcher in the Rye I dreamed of having a ludicrously big desk, just like Phoebe Caulfield did. So I could spread out.

I must have stood there marvelling at it for a full five minutes before my brain kicked into overdrive. A million fragments of thought, all revolving around the desk, raced around inside my head: OMG! Desk. Need desk. Good desk. Want desk. Have to get desk. Fuckin’ great desk, man. DESK!

I hurried home, running down the street like a maniac. I burst through the front door, frantically looking for someone to help with the heavy lifting. I knew I’d never be able to cart a desk this big home all by myself, no matter how determined I was. I needed more muscle. My step-dad was at work and my mom was out shopping with my youngest siblings in tow. The only person home was my sister Erika. At four-foot-eleven and weighing in at 90 pounds soaking wet, she just wasn’t enough muscle for the job. I grabbed the phone and called our friend Phil who lived close by, hoping desperately that he was home. Phil is big and strong, the right kind of fellow for this sort of job. As luck would have it, he was home. I begged him to rush over and help immediately. And being the good friend that he is, he did. With a handy helper solidified, I wasted no time getting back across the street to guard my new treasure. Because, you know, clearly I have impeccable taste when it comes to curb-side cast-offs and an item of such unique beauty is bound ensnare the hearts of a thousand greedy rivals. It was a situation requiring extreme action, get or get got.

I sat on the desk, guarding it jealously and waiting for Phil, he would be along soon. And then all of my wildest desk-related dreams could come true.

It was gruelling work, but together we managed to manoeuvre the desk across the street, up the driveway and into my room. It was heavy and awkward, like trying to carry a piece of Stonehenge home. A desk from the days of yore, when backbreaking weight guaranteed the buyer quality and longevity. No lightweight modern bullshit here. This desk is a wood panelled boulder capable of withstanding a nuclear blast and requiring no less than three people to move it. Well, maybe two exceptionally strapping people could manage. Like Hulk Hogan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But then you’d have to buy them pizza for helping with the move, and they can eat a lot of pizza. But you don’t like to share… Ah well, it was never meant to be.

So, we had to make do moving the desk without the help of Ah-nuld and Hulk, and I had to shelve that daydream to focus on the task at hand. It was challenging, but worth every bit of strain. A thunderous thud onto the carpet announced the desk’s arrival in our home. And in that instant, my dream of owning an invasively large desk became a reality.

My mom hated my new desk almost immediately upon first sight. My step-dad did too. I don’t know why they hated it. The only semblance of a reason for their hatred that I can remember is an arbitrary claim that it was “too big” for my room. Which it wasn’t, at all, so their claim made no sense. I got relocated to the old master bedroom after they completed renovations on our house, and it was plenty spacious. I think they just hated it for the sake of hating. Their hatred was accompanied by threats to get rid of it when I went back to school, much to my chagrin. Empty threats, but nonetheless, worthy of inciting hysterics. Every threat to turn my precious desk into refuse was met with one of the following desperate pleas on its behalf:

  1. “You know how much I love this desk, so if you throw it out then you do so knowing that I will NEVER speak to you again!”
  2. “I’m going to pen an epic tome from this desk one day, so if you throw it out you’re basically throwing out my future.”
  3. “The only thing worth living for is that desk, don’t take it from me or you’ll be sorry”

Option number one, usually shouted instead of spoken, was used when I was feeling agitated or annoyed. Option two was a nugget of pure guilting gold. And option number three relied on the perfect amount of pitiable menace to convey my distress. Which isn’t always easy to muster in the heat of the moment, so I resorted to it less frequently than the others.

As it turns out, my parents aren’t total monsters and they didn’t do away with my beloved desk. It stayed exactly as it was, year after year, until I finally moved out on my own for good. And you can be damn sure I moved that desk right along with me. We’ll never part abodes again. Wherever it is that I decide to hang my hat for the remainder of my meager life, the Phoebe Caulfield desk will be there too. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I love it so much. It’s my sanctuary. I clock some solid hours at this desk every week. Writing, brainstorming, watching Netflix, colouring, making mixed CDs, having FaceTime chats with my BFF on the other side of the world. I do everything at this desk. Nay, I do everything with this desk. We’re a team, we’re destined for greatness, and we’re in it for the long haul.

The Phoebe Caulfield desk has allowed me to spread out farther than I ever could have imagined possible. There’s something about this big clunky lug that has become a part of me. Sometimes you’ll put on a coat or a shirt or a fucking toupee, whatever, and the people you know will be all like “Oh blah blah, that whatever that you’re wearing is just so you!” Well that’s how it is for me and my desk. We go together.

my desk

Man, that Caulfield chick sure knew what she was talking about.

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