June 6, 2012
- a relatively mild mental illness that is not caused by organic disease, involving symptoms of stress (depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, hypochondria) but not a radical loss of touch with reality. Compare with psychosis; (in nontechnical use) excessive and irrational anxiety or obsession.
I don’t like round tables. Especially really small round tables. I prefer squares. I discovered this as I caught myself looking longingly at the square, handicap person’s table in Starbucks. I covet that table, as I bang out words in my cramped circle. As long as I’m renting space from Starbucks for the ridiculously low sum of a grande soy latte, I want to work with all of my writerly, editorly, accoutrements around me—notebooks, calendar, books, coffee, ice, computer, pens, pencil, eraser, paper, trash, Brad’s manuscript, my manuscript. Everything I need to be ready… ready for what? Whatever. Any, EVERY, eventuality that may or may not occur, thus preventing me from functioning at full capacity.
I watch this table, so often empty, and fantasize about dragging it over to my usual spot by the window, taking up the entire space without fear of bumping someone, or inadvertently catching someone’s eye, or knocking the whole damn lot to the floor. Without fear of someone coming along, reaching over my head and lowering the shade, because that shade is the only thing that stands between me and freezing my ass off.
This table, I realize, is a buffer. Holding the world at bay while I try to function.
Starbucks understands. They don’t outright forbid me to sit there. Rather they post a tiny, square note that reminds me that this table is designed for people with needs I can’t imagine. I can sit there, but I have to move on in the event that a person with a handicap shows up. Which is fine. I don’t begrudge anyone this table. In fact, I’m really glad it’s available. Life is hard enough without trying to fit your wheelchair or crutches or non-bendable knees under a little round table. Still, I want it. I want my name engraved on it, a little square sign reading: Please offer this table to our customers with spatial issues. Instead of a wheelchair, my picture could accompany the words.
That way, I could sit there without guilt. I could be grateful I’m not in a wheelchair, or on crutches, or that all of my joints bend as they were meant to, while occupying a space large enough to accommodate such issues if they did exist. As it is, whenever I am forced to sit there, usually by a large mid-day crowd, I do so with the awareness that I’m a usurper. This isn’t really my table. I’m only borrowing it.