A few weekends ago we were sitting around telling stories, laughing and generally having a good time when my best friend said “Have you told them the story of when we broke the bed?” She loves to do that when there is someone new in the room. I had not told this particular story to present company but of course the minute she mentioned it they were intrigued. Honestly I hadn’t really planned to tell this story on my blog. It’s a long one and while it’s funny to those of us who were there, I’m not sure it has broad comic appeal. However, today I was looking through pictures trying to find something for the story I had intended to tell when I came across this. This picture was taken a few seconds before the 100 year old antique bed we were on gave out and hit the ground like a ton of bricks.
Telling this story is bittersweet because one of these beloved children isn’t with us anymore. One day I’ll tell you that story but not today.
Don’t be fooled by these smiling faces. They are the faces of children who will abandon you the minute the going gets tough. The one holding the camera is the same friend who dragged this story out of me around the dining room table not long ago. She is the mother of two of these hoodlums. The other three are mine.
My first husband’s parents owned a house on beautiful Smith Mountain Lake in south western Virginia. It is the only thing I miss from that marriage. The place is picturesque. The house is furnished and decorated with antiques. You have to use a step stool to get in to the beds. I loved it at the lake house but I was always a nervous wreck when my kids were small worrying that they would break something.
This particular summer (probably 1995 if I have to guess) my kids and I went to the lake for a week along with my best friend and her two boys. The Dad’s would be joining us on the weekend. We fished, swam, explored, and soaked up the sun. We went to a Mennonite auction. We crashed a local fireman’s fundraising dinner. We put a fish in the freezer with the hook still in its mouth. It was a fun week.
The picture of the kids on the bed was taken on Thursday. I know because when all hell broke loose I kept thinking I’ve got twenty four hours before my husband gets here to fix this. I was in bed waking up from a nice little nap, reading my book and enjoying a rare moment of peace. The silence was suddenly broken by a familiar voice saying “Go get her guys!” and next thing I knew I had five children jumping up on the bed on top of me. My friend ran in with the camera snapping away taking pictures. “Ha ha…you got me….so funny guys. Ok now everyone off.” I’m pretty sure I said something like that but I didn’t have a chance to hear their response because suddenly I heard this loud cracking sound and before anyone had a chance to even process what was going on, the bed hit the floor with a WHOMPH that I’m fairly certain could be heard echoing down the lake.
My memory of the next few moments is fuzzy. I think I was in shock. I felt like throwing up. I laid there for a second stunned and that’s when the traitor children jumped up and scurried out of the room as fast as their guilty little legs could take them. They knew what was about to go down was bad and they wanted no part of it. When I started to come to my senses I was aware of this piercing cackle, a choking, gasping laughter coming from the floor next to me. My dear friend had fallen to the floor and was laughing so hard she was in danger of giving herself a seizure.
I remember what happened next like it was yesterday. I screamed at her “What the hell are you laughing at? I am going to be in so much trouble. What are we going to do? I will never be allowed to come back here. My husband is going to kill me. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?” The louder and more upset I got the harder she laughed which just pissed me off even more. We were stuck – her laughing me screaming for a good five minutes or so. The kids lingered just outside the bedroom door with the older ones peeking in. I jumped up and started pacing around the room. “What am I going to do? This is bad. This is really, really bad. I can’t believe this.” I was frantic. My friend finally calmed herself enough to speak and said “Stop freaking out. We’ll fix it.” Are you kidding me!? I wanted to hurt her. I wanted to slap that silly grin right off her face. Fix it? Fix it with what? We are out in the middle of nowhere. The closest Home Depot was over an hour away. I was starting to feel like I might pass out. “Of course we’ll fix it. All we need is some wood, some wood glue and a few nails. We’ll have it like new tonight! Trust me” she said.
We pulled the mattress off the bed and examined the damage. Turns out it was only one piece of wood that was broken. If we could replace this one piece of wood we might be ok but how? I told her “go find some tape so we can tape this back together and take it with us to the store.” She came back five minutes later with band aids. She couldn’t find the tape so we used about 10 band aids to tape this four foot piece of wood back together. I ran for the phone book to look up the nearest hardware store. There was a small hardware store down the road so we rushed the kids in to the car (still in their swimsuits) and headed there. When we explained our problem to the owner he said “well ya’ll are gonna have to have a piece of wood custom cut.” I started to get dizzy again. Custom cut? That’s it I thought. I’ll never come back to this beautiful place again. I must have looked like I was going to cry because he suggested we go down the road and visit his friend Tim the custom cabinet maker. Maybe he could help us out. “I’ll call him and warn him, err I mean tell him you are on the way.” I dared not get my hopes up but this Tim was our last chance.
It was clear as we pulled in to the parking lot at Tim’s shop that he was a craftsman.There was wood everywhere. Little did he know that he was about to add Knight in Shining Armor to his resume. We told the kids to wait in the car, and grabbing our broken bandaged up board we went inside. Tim met us as we came through the door. “Can I help you?” he said. “We broke a bed” I said. He looked at my friend, he looked at me, he looked back at her again and said “You did what now?” I can only imagine what was going through his head. My friend thrust our piece of wood in his face and said “We need another one of these. Can you help us? If we don’t fix this bed her husband is going to kill her.” Poor guy just shook his head in confusion. I am sure my eyes started to fill up again because he quickly took our piece of wood and said “Give me an hour or so and I’ll see what I can do.” “Halleluiah” I thought, this might work. We took the kids for ice cream to kill an hour and then went back to the wood shop. Tim charged us $5 for a duplicate piece of wood cut to the exact proportions of the original. I was so happy I threw my arms around him. He saved my butt. I could hear him laughing at us as we went out the door.
We made a quick trip back to the hardware store for nails, wood glue and a hammer and then went back to the house to fix a bed. I am proud to say that bed will never break again. There are so many nails in it and so much glue on it that it is easily 10 times stronger now than it was before it broke. It’s been about 17 years since then and so far as I know our repair still holds. If anyone ever decides to climb under that bed they will be in for a surprise but it’s not my worry any more.
The morning we were getting ready to leave my friends son came to us and admitted that he had broken an antique plate that had been sitting on the dresser in his room. I looked at her and said “I got the band aids, go get some of that dang glue.” Piece of cake.