For the last 30 years I have taken most of my meals around an old circular oak table, which sits beside an old Hoosier cabinet in the kitchen. The other day I was sharing a story with a friend who, after digesting the irony and perplexity of the tale, made the comment: "If only your kitchen table could talk."




Apparently it can.




The table was build sometime in the late 1800's and, as part of its charm, squeaks, moans, mumbles and croaks during normal use. It is not unusual to find me sitting placidly, though receptive, at the table while mentally thumbing through an endless rolodex of story outlines that seem to funnel into sight through a portal to another dimension, where laughing is lauded and dimwits don't hold political office. That dimension also houses endless chicanery, planetary sized puns, warehouses of wit and wile, gobs of guile, seas of shenanigans, hoards of humor and a seemingly inexhaustible foundry of fun. Not a bad neighborhood at all.




When inspiration runs low and any creative juices long since evaporated, I need only to lean on the table and a subtle, yet palpable communication through the portal is made manifest through a code that can both begin and end by making the table "talk," for lack of a better word. Whether it is night or day, I can always count on my oaken oracle to reach through the ethereal door and grab a few thoughts otherwise obscured and unrevealed.




I guess that it was only a matter of time and proximity, but the table began serving up inspiration directly to my laptop. I would open up my writing program, make things squeak and watch with glee as story outlines appeared in a blink. All I had to do was to fill in the missing details and the story was, described in jargon,




"Good to go."




I had a writer's golden goose, spinning gold around the clock while I otherwise attempted chores around the house. Who would have thought that a family heirloom would become central to my expression? The fact that my oracle was located so conveniently, instead of atop some majestic mountain in Tibet, meant that I could sit, warm as buttered toast and type at warp speed while the windows revealed a snowbound outdoors. It was heaven.




Monday night I returned from an errand and nearly collided with a man leaving my house carrying a weighty toolbox. I drifted inside to discover that my wife, Annette, had apparently had enough of my talking table and the departing repair man had just finished oiling and tightening my once inspirational oak piece, leaving it mute and otherwise unresponsive. I tried loosening the screws and generally wiggling the whole, but no sounds emanated from my once-fecund furniture. I was lost, cast adrift in a sea of meaningless phrases and overused words. Woe was my middle name.




Just as I thought all was lost I began to hear the Refrigerator begin to get noisy. It hummed, cranked, hissed and shook while first letter, then words and finally whole story outlines appeared on my screen. Could the refrigerator be channeling the table while it peeked into the bubbling mirth of the fun dimension?




An hour later my wife appeared in the doorway to the kitchen and asked "How's it going?".




"I am able to digest much of what comes through, though I come up cold in the freezer."




Lance was last seen hanging a "Do Not Repair" sign on his refrigerator. Now if he could only bring home the bacon You may Ouija lance@journalist.com, should you become obsessed.