Madrid, 2007. 

While at a colleague’s house in Plaza de la Paja and before sitting down to a meal of lentils, tortilla and goat cheese, we were trying to figure out how Madrillenos could stay up all night and still function in the morning — was there something they weren’t telling us?  Was there some magic hangover potion that we didn’t know of yet?  Should we just give in and sleep till 10 and then try to move?

Giving up on the Spanish cure for the all-night dance-a-thon, the conversation turned to the academy.  As we got closer and closer to meal-time, our voices got louder and louder; I put too much air in the egg whites with my vociferous whipping and our talk became more pointed and faintly menacing.  We began to rage against the machine, participating in a one-up-man-ship made possible by both hunger and distance from our U.S. workplaces.

It went something like, “well, if you think that was bad, two years ago during a faculty meeting, my chair . . .”  Watching us over the top of the latest Harry Potter, my colleague’s nine-year-old daughter became exasperated.  What she said next gave me the idea for this site’s name.  With hands on hips and the Potter book perched dangerously close to a low plate of olive oil, she exclaimed: “Chair, chair, chair . . . all this talk about the CHAIR . . . forget the chair, what about the table?”

She burst our little bubble of collective righteous indignation and returned us to the pleasure at hand.  We laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe.  I dropped my egg whites on the floor, making the cat happy.  She salvaged a meal, if not a whole season.  For the rest of that spring, when my colleague called she’d joke:  “I called to talk about the table, not the chair.”  Grown people ought to laugh so hard more often.

So, here at the professor’s table, we forget about the chairs for the moment.  We are all about whatever comes across the desk and we also endeavor to stay true to all three genres (writer. rider. cook.) in weekly posts.