The Element of Surprise

Elementary, my dear Prudence. No longer the exclusive province of milk crates and cinder blocks, turning the tables on comfort and reliability has become something of a sport for those with nothing better to do. Unlike the label on the hyperallergenic mattress purchased by your farsighted friend, the element of surprise is considerably more difficult to ascertain, corrective lenses be damned.

Left outdoors in subzero temperatures, even the most elegant air furniture is no match for elements that change state on a whim, especially when liquids fill the spaces intended for carbon dioxide, or similarly vapid emissions. Left to the elements, a periodic table is an uncomfortable table, showing its grain to the world even as splinters accumulate in the elbows of visitors with no other place to sit.

Like an episodic relationship, the periodic table is rarely there when guests arrive, leaving hospitality to take up the slack, and serendipity to dish out the specific symbol required to make sense of star-crossed chemistry, with all the awkward surprises it brings to the table.

Aren't you hungry?



  1. Yes. This explains so much, including the budgetary crisis in education: uncertain[ty] principals [sic] must purchase so, so many periodic tables for statistical purposes.

  2. Educator, get in touch with your inner cat! That's what I would say, if I still had my tongue. I don't, of course. Felinity is funny that way.