Step 1: In your twenties, gain possession of one large, antique buffet for free from a friend who is cleaning out a family home and already has one.
Step 2: Be thankful for such friends.
Step 3: Allow the buffet to make up for feeling insecure about your working class roots, where no matter how many family houses you clean out, you will never find a piece of furniture like this.
Step 4: Be absurdly proud how it fits perfectly in your large apartment that actually feels like a home, and not a starter apartment with milk crates and hand-me-down particle board furniture. Revel in the pantry, a built-in china cabinet, dental molding (which you will have to learn about because you have never seen such carved beauty), pocket doors and a fireplace (Ok, neither the fireplace, nor one of the doors worked, but still – it was a FIREPLACE and POCKET doors!)
Step 5: Be blissfully ignorant of how the pride in step 4 only highlights your insecurities.
Step 6: Get priced out of said apartment and cool neighborhood and buy a condo in a less expensive, working class town. Be whiny and curse the fates that have brought you back to the type of place you thought you’d escaped. Cling to the buffet even harder, even though the condo does not have a formal dining room. Tell yourself it will be great for extra storage.
Step 7: Do not hug the movers who manage to wedge into the condo what you now realize is a monolithic piece of furniture.
Step 8: Find yourself 12 years later post-divorced, post-condo, and moving into a four-room apartment, but still in possession of the buffet. Be clear with yourself why you still have it and understand your attachment to it. Don’t let that stop you from putting it in storage and playing out a twisted Scarlett O’Hara kind of fantasy that one day, as the universe is your witness, you will never live in a formal dining room-less place again!
Step 9: Be sure to have other, more likable traits and make the kind of friends who don’t hold Step 8 against you.
Step 10: Get a grip and realize paying storage fees for over a year is stupid. Gather tolerant friends to see if anyone has space to hold the buffet for you or use it until your plan for formal dining room domination is complete.
Step 11: Get another grip and realize all your urban friends have small urban spaces. Widen the search to out-of-state friends with more space.
Step 12: Find a home in southern Maine. Have a Prius-owning good friend who will help you, even though you are way past the age when friends should ask friends for moving help.
Step 13: Have the Prius-owning friend also be the type who will measure to see if it will fit in the back. All of it: 5 feet, 6-inches long x 37 inches tall x 21.5 inches deep.
Step 14: Pick up the moving van you will drive to Maine in case the buffet doesn’t fit in the Prius. As you climb into a van that smells heavily like sweaty workmen who smoke, be more fervent in your prayers that the buffet will fit into the Prius.
Step 15: Spend 15 minutes, pushing, cajoling, and sliding the buffet in the back. Spend another 5 to 10 minutes adjusting the front seats to somewhere between buffet-sticking-out-the-back-an-inch to can’t-feel-your-legs-because-knees-are-in-your-chin. Settle on abnormally bent legs and pit stops as needed to reintroduce circulation.
Step 16: Deliver the buffet to Maine friends, who quickly find it won’t fit in their basement either. Discover it fits perfectly between their open floor plan dining room and living room. Smile and enjoy when their 8-year-old daughter begins using the buffet immediately to have her toy frog practice his skate board moves.
And there you have it. How to fit a buffet in a Prius in 16 easy steps. Oh, and since I’ll be needing to do this in the reverse in about five years or so, Prius engineers, can you clear any changes in the back cargo space with me first? That would be awesome.
And a big thank you to my friends: Tim (furniture donor), Brad (for trying to help me find a home closer to home), Becky and Susan (Prius owners) and Gloria, Mary, and Marcella (current stewards of the honking, big buffet)
Photo: A perfect fit in the Prius: the buffet arrives safely in Maine. The driver and passenger were off to the side coaxing the circulation back into their legs.