In Defense of Coffee Tables

“You know what would make a great coffee table book? A coffee table book about coffee tables. . .that turns into a coffee table.”- Kramer

One of the real tragedies of the modern trend towards minimalism – other than those criminally uncomfortable ‘accent pillows’ – is the increasing absence of what was once an assumed American fixture: The Coffee Table.

Traditionally, this would have been a dented and tottering structure that sat near the family couch. Despite its namesake, it would be used for much more than holding ones morning cuppa joe. In a pinch, it could pass as a coat rack, scaffolding for a blanket fort or simply a handy footrest during the six o’clock news.

Perhaps its best use however, was as an abiding place for whatever book or magazine someone happened to be in the middle of.

Not only was this latter function useful for the homeowner, it also allowed guests to come to immediate conclusions about a host’s character. A copy of Pam Anderson’s Raw may legitimately allow one to abandon all hopes of integrity, whereas a dog-eared Secret Life of Slugs and Snails might only suggest a long evening. A copy of Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America may well mean the discovery of a new soul-mate.

But modern sensibilities have become adept at banishing all traces of humanity about half an hour before company arrives. The bathroom is febreezed, dirty cutlery is flung out a nearby window and a shallow bamboo tray containing exactly three lemons is placed strategically in the center of an oblong glass table.

If there are gardeners present in the crowd, you will find them quietly considering the lemons. They may acknowledge you, but it quickly becomes apparent that their minds are elsewhere. They are back at their own coffee table, which no doubt groan under the weight of half-empty tea mugs, A.W.O.L gardening gloves, and old back issues of Greenprints.

Lost in their thoughts, you barely catch them reciting their creed of homely subversion:

“I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I like good plain food, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humor (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much.” (Sam Gamgee)

GreenPrints magazine is your literary coffee table for a minimalist age. All the warmth, wisdom, and beauty you would expect of a true gardening magazine, arranged in a compact 80 page, perfect-bound edition.

And that’s something worth exchanging lemons for.

Benjamin Inglis, Media Assistant