I bought a desk this weekend for $75 at a used furniture shop. Economists call such items inferior goods, which tend to flourish in tough times. I'm normally the bartering type, but the 20,000-leagues-under-the-market prices for the two items I have snagged as a result of Craigslist advertisements--a pool table and this desk--reduce haggling to insults. Leave the money and run. I agreed to the purchase on just one condition: that it fit into my Flynnmobile. With the assistance of two gents, it did.
My front door was another matter. With the assistance of an average-sized American male--whose superior knowledge of angles and hauling strategies proved helpful--I moved the desk from my vehicle to my living room, where I am hoping to make my living writing my next book.
The hosting site for my big green desk isn't popular with other denizens of FlynnFiles headquarters. Or, perhaps more accurately, the desk isn't popular in that site. The location itself, next to a fireplace and in eye's view in front of the next room's entrance, is prime real estate. The desk, my in-house critics claim, belongs in a basement or a garage but not the living room. It doesn't mesh with its surroundings. But neither do I. We understand each other perfectly.
The circa-1940s monster is something you might have seen in front of your teacher had you gone to school sometime around mid-century. If you laugh at the futility of the era's duck-and-cover drills, you wouldn't upon experiencing my ominous desk. It has survived sixty-plus years. It could survive the six seconds of a nuclear blast. Is it a desk or a fallout shelter?
The work space is huge and heavy, weighing in excess of 200 pounds. Its length runs from my wrist to wrist. Its width nearly meets a yardstick flush. Five drawers, two side writing extensions, and a file cabinet highlight its many wonders. Did I mention that it's metallic? The manufacturer is Art Metal, formerly of Jamestown, New York. My internet detective work finds that Art Metal was the world's first producer of metal furniture. Libraries, their books apparently weary of fires, proved enthusiastic customers for Art Metal's wares. The company went extinct. The furniture it made never will.
The desk's history is more of a mystery than its producer's. The sellers informed me that it came from their church. Inside a drawer, evidence--a child's worksheet from religion class--suggests that the church was a Catholic one. Perhaps a school associated with the parish once housed the desk. But its color--a sickly drab green--hints that the religious desk once served a more martial purpose. I could see it in a company first sergeant's office or, perhaps, at a forestry service outpost. Brush strokes show that the green--so ugly that it's beautiful--wasn't the item's original color. Why it was painted, let alone why it was painted this obscure Crayola shade green, shall forever go unanswered.
It's a very officious, bureaucratic piece of furniture, designed as much for intimidation as utility. This latter quality endears it to me. I certainly find it useful after three days of use. Today, for instance, I completed an article, wrote this post, and composed more than eight hundred tight words for my next book. Productivity is up and working conditions are better. Since a bat intimidated me out of my attic work area last month, I have been relegated to scribbling and reading on my couch and on my porch. These are neither efficient nor ergonomic work stations. When you're self-employed you see the concerns of both employers and employees more clearly. I meet the demands of labor and management with this desk.
To welcome the heavy metal desk into its new home I play Ronnie James Dio upon it. I may be the latest in its line. But I won't be the last in line. There's more future than past in my purchase.
Is it lead paint?
Metal, circa 1940? Metal was a 1960's material. Nonetheless, enjoy. As they say - they don't make them like that anymore.