I once visited a rich single lady living in a gorgeous house with the most amazing furniture.
After we ate, I felt relaxed and we started a great conversation, with expensive wine served in elegantly shaped goblets.
That was when wahala started. The expression in her eyes changed. She became slightly alarmed.
“Would you mind not placing your leg on the table?” she requested softly.
That was when I realized that I felt so relaxed in the space that I had placed one of my legs on the table.
When you have dangling long legs and an extremely pliable body, you sometimes are not conscious of what your body parts are doing. They seem to develop a life independent of you.
I certainly didn’t realize that one of my legs had found its way from under my body and planted itself on the rich lady’s table.
This is what comes from growing up poor: in my father’s house, we didn’t have tables so gorgeous you couldn’t place your leg on them.
In poor people’s homes, the má ṣu má tọ̀ laws are few: you pretty much did whatever you wanted without fear of upsetting the table and chairs.
The rich lady and her table were upset.
I knew it was time for me to leave and remember never to return to the crime scene.
Why, in my house, you could do anything on a table—even turn it into an easel for painting and sometimes, in spite of being careful, drop some stubborn paint on it.
But you can’t do that in this million-dollar house with million-dollar furniture.
As I drove back home, I started thinking: what is a table, by the way?
The table has been around for thousands of years.
You will find it depicted in Egyptian art.
But the table is one of the most unnecessary items of furniture ever invented by humans.
This is why people use the table for almost anything:
You can serve food on it.
You can even cook the food on the table before serving the food on the same table.
You can place your laptop on it.
Or use it as a bookshelf and pile tons of books on it.
You can sit at a table.
I heard some lovers have found it useful for romantic engagements.
All I did was place my leg on it, converting it into an ottoman, just because my leg had no better use at that moment, in that rich lady’s house.
What else can’t you do on a table?
A table can be a stool, a desk, round, rectangular, irregular in shape, standing on one leg, on three legs—or shown as a flat platform carved on top of a person’s head.
(There was this movie in which a poor man bent his back so low that his oga placed a piece of paper on it and scribble a note: they turned the peasant to a table).
Almost anything can become a table.
Are you doing silly things on a table?
Has your bed become a table for books, as mine sometimes looks?
Every second, in various parts of the world as you read this note, a table is being used (or abused) for what it was never intended.
Or, what else could one do on a table, beyond table tennis?
Let’s sit around a table and talk about a table.
The photo shows me turning my floor into a table so I could paint on it
Prof. Moyo Okediji