The Fabulous Flying Armoire

December 14, 2008

(First published July 12, 1995, re-issued because of a discussion at a Christmas party last night. I’ve made a few tweaks, but left the original time references.)

It was a thing of beauty, all right. A genuine do-it-yourself reproduction of an old-fashioned armoire.

“Armoire” is a French word that roughly translates to “a large piece of furniture used as a closet back in the days when they built houses without them.”

More or less.

Anyway, I bought a matched pair of the things seven or eight months ago at a specialty shop near Harrisburg. Better than six feet tall and built of lustrous North Carolina white pine, they were to fill an important function at the new house, which has closets designed for use by hobbits.

The Fabulous Flying Armoire

The Fabulous Flying Armoire

We wrestled the things downstairs without too much trouble. My friend Mike noted on the way down that he’d seen the box the armoire had come in, and that it weighed 80-some pounds. It didn’t seem the time to mention that each armoire had come in two boxes, each of which weighed 80-some pounds. Timing, as they say, is everything.

Anyway, the two armoires were strapped down into my friend Alan’s pickup truck and, after a few hundred more items were packed into it and the rented U-Strain, off we went to the new house.

Naturally, being in the truck ahead of Alan’s, I missed the best part.

In some varieties of the Christian religion, it is believed that in the final days, all the Saved will ascend directly to Heaven, thereby avoiding the unpleasantness of dying and all.

Possibly the tree from which one of the armoires had been made had grown near a small church in which one of these intense and often noisy sects had practiced. Maybe it was haunted.

Whatever the explanation, somewhere just to the south of where General Pickett’s lot skewered themselves on the bayonet of History, my armoire began to twitch and tug at its moorings, designed to keep it from moving from side-to-side and front-to- back.

Alan, driving along placidly at about 40, had no idea of the wooden epiphany that was occurring in the back of his Ford.

The green truck chugged southward toward Marsh Creek. The white armoire tugged ever more furiously at the bonds that held it to the surly bungees of Earth.

In the car behind, Mike, Maria and Brian were yelling and gesturing wildly, probably at Alan, possibly to the armoire itself, attempting to establish communications with an alien species.

The truck shuddered. The armoire shrugged the bungees aside, free at last.

Gleaming in the sun under a perfect sky, it ascended toward Heaven.

A little.

They tell me it seemed to hang there, in that peaceful way things do during disasters, then began a sort of stiff curtsy toward the green berm rushing by beneath it.

The spell was broken, along with everything else, when the armoire met the roadway. For a split second, everything seemed fine. Then, splendid smooth pine shivered, the sunlight dancing off it in a thousand directions, and suddenly the armoire was a galaxy of oddly shaped boards, hodge-podged over the southbound lane of the Emmitsburg Road.

My friends collected the debris and brought it here to the new house, and told the rest of us what had happened. They sometimes took turns, sometimes talked all at once. There was a lot of arm-waving.

The pieces of the armoire lie on the back porch now, the light of the white pine dimmer, like a fire almost extinguished.

I had a friend once, a short order cook by trade. He tried to describe to me his conversion to one of those charismatic religions, and how he had felt afterward, both elevated by the experience, and shattered by it.

The armoire reminds me a little of him. I believe there is nothing for me to do but to attempt to put it back together again. I am one of those who believe that with faith and enough Elmer’s, nearly anything can be made whole.

Besides, how could I not? This is the armoire that defied gravity, that rose white as a fish into the sunlight, if only for a moment. I shall glue it together, a sort of utilitarian relic, to stand in an honored place among my other furniture, scarred and holy.

FOOTNOTE: Some time later, I think it was that winter, I actually assembled a couple of sawhorses, an assortment of clamps, and the dependable Elmer’s Carpenter’s Glue, and got to work. It took a week or more, maybe two. Some of the pieces were no more than a few inches long. For years, the reassembled armoire’s right-hand door had a panel on the inside that bore the tire-marks from Brian’s little blue Hyundai. I swore we’d never paint over that…but we did. I wish we hadn’t.


© 2008 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.

“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
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3 Responses to “The Fabulous Flying Armoire”

    • burger2go said

      Thanks, Sandy! I was upset to discover that we had, after all, painted over the tire track. I think I took a photo beforehand, but I can’t find it.

      Where are you, by the way?

  1. Terry, I admire you for not trashing the seriously damaged armoire. Great story!

    And, why does time go into slo-mo mode during hair-raising events? The workings of the human eye, brain and nervous system is a mysterious thing.

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