Lazy Susan - Life meanings and musings

Carmen Micsa

But was she really lazy?
My new Lazy Susan purchased with excitement at CostcoPhoto by Carmen Micsa
“Necessity is the mother of all invention.” — Albert Einstein

I have been a real estate broker for 22 years. The day I discovered the first lazy Susan when I was in my 20s in one of the homes felt like an architectural revelation.

“Oh, I love the cabinets and the lazy Susan,” my buyer pointed out, clapping her hands as if watching her favorite rock star at a concert.

And since I was new to the business and have never heard that term before, I wondered why my client, a young, smart attorney, was so inconsiderate to Susan.

“She didn’t even use an oxymoron for Susan! She just called her lazy! A little rude and harsh!” I said to myself.

And since “fake it till you make it,” used to be my broker’s motto at the time for us new agents, I chose to veil my vexation with my buyer’s impolite comment about Susan, until I realized that she was talking about the revolving shelves inside the kitchen cabinet that swiveled from left to right allowing easy access.

“That was genial,” I thought to myself.

However, since language has been my fascination ever since I learned how to read and write at the age of six, I immediately tried to solve the mysterious name of “lazy Susan.”

Understanding the roots of words and how they formed into sentences and expressions was as interesting as reading a challenging novel that makes me think deeply about its characters and their philosophical views on life. It was also my training at the University in Romania, where I took a few linguistics classes that most of my classmates thought were so boring that they would rather gauge their eyeballs out.

A few guesses and hypotheses

Lazy Susan defined as a rotating tray, generally circular, which is placed on the top center of a table in order to assist in moving food around to all the diners on all sides of the table, was seen as an ingenious and economical way to replace a waitress whenever possible.

General consensus is that the term ‘Lazy Susan’ first made a written appearance in a Vanity Fair advertisement for a ‘Revolving Server or Lazy Susan’ in 1917 manufactured by a company called Ovington that sold their Lazy Susan for $8.50.

Description of the Lazy Susan: a mahogany model, 16" in diameter, that revolves around ball bearings, as well as:

“An impossibly low wage for a good servant and the cleverest waitress in the world.”

Today, according to Los Angeles Times, many people tend to think of the Lazy Susan as a kitschy relic from the 1950’s/60’s, but its pedigree is much more distinguished than that. Historians have traced the concept back as far as 18th century England when it was more commonly known as the dumbwaiter.

A few Internet sites and blogs, such as believe that:

Thomas Jefferson invented the Lazy Susan in the 18th century, though they were referred to as dumbwaiters at that time. It is said that Jefferson invented the Lazy Susan because his daughter complained she was always served last at the table and, as a result, never found herself full when leaving the table. Others believe that Thomas Edison was the inventor, as he is believed to have invented the turntable for his phonograph, which later evolved into the Lazy Susan.

Although there are many plausible explanations, these are mere guesses and not historical facts.

Miscellaneous Lazy Susan Facts:

  • Interest in the Lazy Susan began to wane by 1918.
  • The term was added to Webster’s Dictionary in 1933.
  • It re-emerged and became popular in the 1950s and 1960s when kitchens were supplied with convenient, everyday use solutions.

With a word that still conjures up curiosity in linguists and non-linguists, you might get a good laugh watching the comedy movie Lazy Susan which depicts an unmotivated woman who gets tired of doing nothing.

Lazy Susan (2020) — IMDb

Whether you’re fascinated by kitchens with ‘lazy Susan” cabinets or by Chinese restaurants with ample lazy Susan rotating trays, watch a clever and funny youtube video about this useful invention that might render us a little lazy from time to time in the hope that we read and write more while saving time at the dinner table not overreaching and disturbing family and guests.

Go ahead! Swivel things around! That’s what it’s all about.

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CEO/Broker of Dynamic Real Estate, Inc., business owner featured in the Forbes magazine for my outstanding service to my clients. Mom, wife, a published author, Medium writer, poet, marathon runner, rapper, and tennis player.

Carmichael, CA

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