Monday, August 3, 2009

The Farnham Chronicles

Subtitled, "Tales from the Table"

During my high school years, life at 3521FarnhamAvenueLongBeachCalifornia90808 (must be said in one breath) was never a dull moment and our dining room table was the center of it all. We spent many, many hours sitting around the table, which looked like this from about 1965 until the day we moved out in May 1981:

That's my mom, circa somewhere between 1965 and 1969. My sisters and I fall down laughing every time we see this photo. Doncha just LOVE the avocado green chairs on casters? I believe they were Naugahyde. Some poor Naugahog gave its life so we could have those chairs. Not shown is the door to the hallway where we hung a Nerf basketball hoop and we'd shoot hoops rolling around the floor in those chairs.

Anyways. The dining room table is where our male friends would eat an entire box of Lucky Charms cereal in one sitting.

My dad acquired a Polaroid camera from work along with cases of free film (maybe it wasn't supposed to be "free") and we took hundreds of Polaroids of everyone sitting around the table.

Note the artwork on the wall. Eventually, there was a photo of everyone in our family mounted on that wall. Oh, except me. I didn't merit a photo (Bitter Moment #82). Notice the latest batch of Polaroids on the table. We'd even take photos of our Siamese cat, who went by the very original name of "Siam."

We loved that cat. Except my dad. He hated that cat. Siam was a Father's Day present instead of a drill that my dad was expecting. My dad was so pissed we all got The Silent Treatment for several weeks.

But back to Table Tales. During the summer months, we'd have marathon poker and blackjack tournaments that went on for days. These were high-stakes games, where the buy-in was somewhere around 10 cents. In pennies. Sometimes, we'd go wild and up the ante to a quarter and during one crazy session, toothpicks were the currency.

After she graduated from high school, sister Jamie decided to move to Canada. One day, a bunch of us were sitting around the table and we decided to write her a letter. People were streaming in and out all day, as usual, and every person who came in contributed to that letter. I hope she still has it; it was a Classic.

Over the years, hundreds of people sat at that table. Nobody was a stranger. Oh, I'm sure there were a few occasions where someone would be sitting there and it turned out to be one of those "I thought you knew him!" "I thought YOU did!" situations but as long as they didn't act like an ass, we'd shrug and carry on. The table was a place where people of every gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and political affiliation were welcome. As long as you were a "nice" person and didn't try to rape the cats and rabbit or steal from us, there was a place for you at the table.

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