In the film version of our gift registry day (played exquisitely by Patrick Dempsey and Isla Fisher), 2E's and I would stroll into the crisp, white Crate & Barrel at the open-air mall at the crack of dawn, arm in arm, hand in hand, both hands holding Starbucks' signature Peppermint cafe mochas. And when the cheery employee creates our account and presents us with the scanner, 2E's and I begin our 1-hour frolic through the store. With fresh eyes, open minds and respect for each other's opinions, we stroll through each section -- kitchen, office, furnishings -- scanning whatever piques our interest, no matter the cost, no matter the size, no matter how it all comes together. What matters is that we love each other and that we have this wonderful day to spend together.
Grooms, In the
Grooms ... be forewarned. Everything you know is wrong.
Before we even leave the house, 2E's asks that we sit for a bit and go through Crate & Barrel's official gift registry checklist. Using a highlighter, pen, circles, underlines, check marks, X marks and question marks, we differentiate those things we have, those things we have but want to replace, things we don't have, things we don't have but can wait on, things we don't have but don't want and things that sound vaguely familiar but honestly we have no idea what they are.
1E: Hmm, what's a springform pan for?
2E's: I don't know. What the heck's a cruet?
1E: I don't know. But apparently they should both be in our kitchen.
2E's: Well classify them as read, highlight them and then add the double question mark so we know we're unsure about them and need to ask a sales associate.
We make it to the CB2 on Sunset, hoping that the parking validation will cover the next three hours. Overall we're optimistic, partly thanks to the pep talk we gave each other in the car. We announce our arrival, plug in our info with the touchscreen monitor and, last but not least, get the gun. The gun is like that remote control that you misplaced years ago ... the one that wandered away from home, found a popular home decor chain store and acquired the power to give people free things (or at least the illusion of them).
We choose a corner near the entrance and begin there, considering anything and everything with a scan-able tag or SKU number. As we go, we learn to avoid:
1. seasonal items - no decorative, mesh Christmas balls for us
2. firm couches and chairs
3. glasses that look like candlesticks
4. candlesticks that look like glasses
5. candlesticks altogether
2E's has become a whiz with the scanner. Distractions like hunger, exhaustion and my feelings don't bother her anymore. She's on a roll and shan't be stopped.
We learn to change our mind quickly and unapologetically -- swapping round, eggshell, 8" plates for square, true white, 10" plates. Toasters for toaster ovens. Soup trays for soup tureens. We wear warpaint and intimidate the bone china. We're determined, people.
We learn too that the salespeople hate us. We have tons of questions about what this thing does or what other colors does this come in or is this Toothbrush Holder dude (left) actually designed to hold my toothbrush in his crotch ... ? ... but we never decide, never set anything aside and certainly never buy anything. We're just junkies, and all we do is scan, scan, scan, scan, scan, scan.
Tired of discussing "real" things, 2E's and I find comfort in the absurd. We spend far too much time admiring plates that feature small, monster-like pencil children chewing on things. For a minute 2E's is convinced that they're cute, but when we ask the saleswoman standing nearby if they are in fact cute, she says Of course they're not and huffs and storms off into Seasonal.
(Later we find that all of the employees moved to the Seasonal section because they knew we were avoiding it and therefore they would not be bothered.)
My stomach is growling but 2E's is anything but through. We have the Everyday Dinnerware, the Drinkware and the Serving/Entertaining-ware. We have a dining room table and chairs to match and even a carafe in the off-chance that we ever decide to grow our own orange trees and squeeze our own oranges.
And it's right then, carafe/decanter in hand, that 2E's makes the most startling, hair-raising discovery of the day:
2E's: Oh my god. This place doesn't have a Kitchen section.
1E: Whaaaat? You've scanned your brain one too many times.
2E's: Where's the cookware??
1E: Right there! (pointing to the 10' x 20' area where I swear we spent the last 45 minutes)
2E's: No! Cookware! Bakeware! Pans, pots, knives, woks, mixing bowls, baking sheets, colanders, corkscrews, cruets...!
1E: You don't even know what a cruet is.
2E's: I wouldn't know ... I haven't seen one!
And so, after asking the last remaining salesman on the floor who hasn't scurried off to tidy up the holiday bedsheets, 2E's confirms her suspicion that this CB2 has a 2 at the end for a reason. Cause the place is 2 darn small to hold everything in a CB1.
(And perhaps because they have 2 sets of those ne'er before seen pencil children appetizer plates. See pencil elf child riding a wine cork reindeer at right.)
Turns out it doesn't matter what you know or don't know, right or wrong. Either way, you're still going to wind up at the actual Crate & Barrel (and not its catchy-named subsidiary) at that very popular open-air mall on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
I convince 2E's to stop for a power lunch. She uses the time to re-strategize while I use the time to recharge with soft drinks and all white meat chicken.
Stepping into the 2-story Crate & Barrel is like a bad case of deja vu, only on a much larger scale and with far too many employees to squeeze into the Seasonal section.
Luckily, I can stay active with the following tasks (a) choosing the manliest knife block set, (b) choosing the manliest cookware set, (c) chasing the man handing out the CB Peppermint Bark samples, (d) rejecting ugly rugs, and (e) chasing the man handing out the new CB Holiday Smores samples.
Three hours have passed since our arrival. The sun is down; the moon is nearly up; and there's a jolly old actor sitting on the throne on the patch of grass between here and the Baby Gap, posing for pictures as children hop onto his lap.
And it's only then, as we stroll back to the parking garage, when I'm on the high of having accomplished something (and partly buzzed from my cafe mocha), that 2E's tells me that we're almost done.
2E's: All we have to do is register at Target and then we're done.
And so I do what any groom would do. I take a deep breath. I nod. And I smile.
(And when 2E's dips into the Abercrombie to use their restroom, I run over to the Santa display, yank all the boys out of the line, pull them aside and say, "You won't understand this now -- and I won't even get into the whole Santa thing -- but believe me when I say, Everything you know is wrong.")