A couple of years ago Skylar visited his friend Emma in Oakland.

This isn't really relevant to this story, but I already need to pause here and let you know that Skylar is friends with every Emma in the world. Within six months of meeting him I think we attended 12 Emma weddings. If you search "Emma" in his phone, it brings up millions of contacts. If your name is Emma, you and Skylar are friends. What's that? You've never met him? Yes, you have. He collects Emmas as a hobby. He finds most of them in trendy bars where they rename basic cocktails and sell them for $27 each.

Skylar does this thing where he absolutely refuses to use last names when he is talking to me about an Emma. I have to remind him, on a nearly daily basis, that I don't know, and can't figure out from context, which Emma he is discussing.

He does this with his twin sisters, too. He'll just throw out references like, "my sister asked me to have you call her." I'll say, "Skylar. I don't know how many times I have to inform you that you have two of them and they have unique individual names and I can't read your mind." He'll rolls his eyes and say, "you have a 50/50 chance of knowing what I'm talking about. Those aren't terrible odds."

Anyway, we got very off track here. One of the Emmas lives in Oakland. She's a physician. She's an incredible friend to Skylar. The two met as coworkers many years ago in Wisconsin and then became roommates where, as I understand it, Skylar reminded Emma to wash her hair and generally advised on everything else she did in her life whether she wanted his opinion or not. Emma and I have a shared experience in this that has really bonded the two of us over the years.

When Skylar visited Emma a couple of years ago in Oakland, the two stumbled upon a shop where a man was selling raw materials to build furniture. Skylar found this beautiful piece of wood, cut horizontally from a tree, and he very much wanted to buy it and figure out how to turn it into a coffee table.

This thing weighed eleventy hundred pounds and Skylar had flown to Oakland so he didn't really have a way to get it home. He called me about 35 times during that trip to "brainstorm" ways to get this to our house. Short of driving 24 hours to get it, which neither of us had the time to do, this just wasn't going to work out. So he flew home, defeated. He has brought this thing up every 3 months since. "I wonder if I'll ever find something I love as much as I loved that piece of wood," he'll say, as if I'm not sitting right there.

Two weeks ago, Emma called me and told me that she had gone back and bought this for Skylar and she had been laboring over this thing to turn it into a coffee table for him. She wanted to give it to him as a late graduation present. Emma is also a physician and when she graduated from medical school a few years ago, Skylar flew to Chicago to collect her and help her move to Oakland for her residency. Emma told me she had been trying to think of something she could do for his graduation and this felt right.

Emma proposed driving out to Salt Lake City with this table to surprise him with it. We decided we wouldn't even tell him she was coming. We'd just let him wander into the house after work and see her sitting there in the living room.

I am incapable of keeping secrets from Skylar. When I bought Louie, which was supposed to be a Christmas surprise, I made it 10 hours before telling him everything. I also cannot lie to this man. It's like I've been given truth serum when confronted with his face. So I knew this was going to be a challenge.

But I was great. I resisted every urge. I avoided putting myself in a position where I would have to lie to him. Instead, I got in front of the whole thing by telling him I had a surprise for him, he would receive that surprise on Friday evening, and that he was not allowed to ask me any questions about it because I wanted this to stay a surprise.

He behaved and the two of us lived our week in peace.

Until Thursday evening.

We have a nightly ritual where we watch tiktok videos on my phone for a few minutes just before we go to sleep. Unfortunately, Emma happened to text me as we were both staring into my phone, "just checked into my hotel."

Skylar said, "wait. What? Why is Emma texting you?" I panicked and started telling the most implausible lies. I don't even remember what I said. But I knew he had figured it out by the way my lies went unchallenged. We went to bed, both of us doing our best to pretend he didn't know Emma was coming to town.

He was still thrilled to see her the next evening. And he had no idea she had brought him this table, so that was exciting.

Warning, in one of the below videos Skylar says a word our mothers would not like to hear him say.

The weekend was great, Skylar was as happy as I've ever seen him, and the table turned out absolutely stunning.

~It Just Gets Stranger