It’s Me, Your Coffee Table

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Vivienne Woodward


Vivienne Woodward lives in Philly and works as the events coordinator for an indie bookstore. She can often be found drinking too much coffee in the sunny spot on her couch and over-identifying with fictional characters. She enjoys collecting hobbies, dancing to radio pop, and rearranging the book stacks on her side tables.

Hey uh, Viv? It’s me, your coffee table. I know that you’re accustomed to me as more of a showpiece than a vocal participant in this relationship, but can we talk? 

I think we’ve had a good run. We’ve lived in seven different apartments together in nine years. Not many coffee tables can say that. Most go straight from their boxes at IKEA to a curb to a garbage truck to an I-don’t-even-want-to-think-about-where in a year or less. We’re good together. Thanks for continuing to lug me around, even though my paint is kind of chipped and it seems like I’m getting fewer and fewer compliments every year. That’s just getting older, I guess. It’s true what they say, that you start to feel invisible. In coffee table years, I’m almost 800. 

I feel a little weird saying this, but things don’t seem to be getting better so here goes nothing: can you stop with the fucking books? 

It was okay when it was one or two paperbacks that you would pick up every day or two, but then it was the stack of 75 New Yorkers which only ever grew in one direction and now it’s just an endless pile of motherfucking hardcover books? 

Give me a break! I’m a coffee table! I’m happiest when I’m holding an espresso and a bullet journal—tops! Fine, throw in a photogenic pen, fine! I don’t even mind if you Mabel, Mabel, elbows on the table while you journal!

The bookshelf and I have talked. She’s also getting rather fatigued with you, but recognizes that this slack belongs firmly on her shelves. My legs are not what they used to be! 

Let me give you an example of the kind of behavior I’ve seen from you these past few months. You drop a book on me. Fine. It’s heavy but I can deal. You pick up that book for 20 minutes, put it down, pick up your phone, put down your phone, pick up the book, put down the book, pick up the phone. Phone, book, phone, book—make up your mind?? And then, next day: new book on top of the old book and it starts all over. Phone, book, phone, book. Except that instead of putting one book back on bookshelf, both books stay sitting on top of me! Cycle repeats every day for two weeks. Fourteen books, Viv. Fourteen books are now crushing me and you’ve started using them as a foot rest while you scroll through your phone. I have no surface area left for your coffee so you brought over a stool to rest your mug on. 

Coffee is my soulmate!!!!!! What about this situation seems okay to you? I miss coffee so much, I can’t stop crying wooden tears. Or maybe that’s just my legs splintering from ALL OF THE WEIGHT YOU’VE LEFT ON ME. 

I’m sorry, I told myself I wasn’t going to get worked up. I like your books, I do. Something you probably didn’t know about me is that as I absorb their physical weight I also absorb their contents, and I think you have really good taste! I love Pachinko, even though it weighs as much as I do. (Also, did something happen in your life recently? Not only are your books piling up, but you seem to be, I don’t know, home all the time?)

I guess what I’m asking for is a compromise. You can put books on me, but at some point, can you read them? And then find another home for them? I am not a final destination for, well, anything, except maybe some cute coasters? (I love coffee but it can be hot!!) 


Your Coffee Table