For me, flipping tables is a bit of a forte.
As a hormonal teenager, I was sometimes prone to stampedes. Mostly I’d throw pillows at the wall and slam doors (the usual means of emotional release), but one night the stress peaked, and I zeroed in on our glass coffee table.
To this day, I’m relieved that my saintly parents weren’t home to witness the candles and television remotes soaring through the air, or hear the fantastic crash that signals the sudden dissemblance of a large breakable item.
I quit my newfound flipping habit after my family returned, unamused, to a glass-studded carpet and minimalist interior design. Grounded and forced to fork over my life savings, from that day on I let off steam by jogging, like most normal people do.
This summer, a pop-up “funporium” in Toronto’s east end provides a table for the very purpose I sought all those years ago. Ye Olde Dandy’s, Toronto’s one and only table flippery, vaunts the special delight of childish impudence, without entailing any shameful consequences.
Here, customers can personalize their flipping experience by launching items such as childhood toys or photographs of ex-lovers. The flipper might act out fantasies or express affectations in this dedicated space; conversely, he or she may simply revel in the novelty factor of wanton destruction.
I visited Ye Olde Dandy’s to find out if a table flippery could act as a kind of therapy centre, or perhaps a living arts venue for the kinaesthetically inclined. Having fortunately outgrown my infantile anxieties about curfews and zits, I decided to instead channel my political frustrations into Ye Olde Dandy’s cathartic services.
After finding my voodoo skills quite lacking – the homemade Harper effigy I brought along resembled almost everybody but the Dear Leader himself – I relied instead on a bit of costumed role-play. Standing at the edge of the table swathed in black with my feet spread in a classic power pose, I instigated a just and glorious uprising with a mighty heave. The pieces of our overthrown government smashed deliciously all over the cement floor.
Though the table tossing was as thoroughly satisfying as I remember, I admit it did little to fix the origin of my anger. Only a few seconds later, my performance felt somewhat like an act of bad faith: I had been flippin’ tables instead of being seditious.
A little like Nozick’s Experience Machine – a thought experiment in which the subject merely endures a simulacrum of real life – I realized that table flippery only imitates the authentic experience of furniture demolition. Pretending domestic ruination, in my own practiced opinion, just ends up eliminating all the soothing qualities associated with smashing things you’re not supposed to.