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Post from the Past: Shelfishness

By Carissa Tobin

THU MAY 21, 2020

This Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Joanie, who, when I texted to ask her about her favorite post, told me, “The one about the shelfie?” Originally published on November 17, 2016, here’s the one about the shelfie. Martin, hope you enjoy too...


When is a shelf not a shelf? And why does it a matter?

This week, I will seek to answer a reader's question, posed to me earlier this year. If you have a question you would like answered, please submit it to me via email and I will do my best to answer it in a timely fashion.

Let's back up a couple months. On a Friday night, my friends arrived to our condo - we'll call them Hermione and Martin.

After taking their shoes off and putting them in the closet (these are well-trained guests), Martin placed a six-pack of beverages on the white concrete slab near the entry way.

"It's not a shelf!" I exclaimed quickly, swooping in to remove the box.

Martin looked bewildered. "How is that not a shelf!?"

My husband smiled. He has been trying to convince me of this non-shelf's inherent qualities of shelf-ishness for awhile now.

This takes me back to my college days. As I drove the six blocks to campus from our apartment, my roommate would set her books on the dashboard of my car.

"It's not a shelf!" I would exclaim, exasperated.

To clarify, something that looks like a shelf is not actually a shelf if one of the below holds true:

  1. The person who lives in/drives the area in which said "shelf" is contained does not wish for the flat surface to be used as a place for storing materials.
  2. Said "shelf" will be moving and whatever objects you place upon it could spill or wound an innocent bystander.

 This falls under #1: I don't want to repaint the white area, so this is not a shelf.
This falls under #1: I don't want to repaint the white area, so this is not a shelf.

It matters because:

  1. Some people care about things like this.
  2. Why not respect their wishes and then laugh at them for being so ridiculous? Win-win!

Thanks again to Martin for the wonderful question.

Next time you enter someone's home or car, think twice before you plop your coffee cup or purse down.

You might want to consider asking, "is this a shelf?"