Only You

There are nineteen different espresso machine models at William-Sonoma.

I know this because Abbi and I spent an hour in the Store For Cooks’ Time Warner Center location.

We’ve begun our gift registry.

I’m probably not the first person to be wary of the great economies sprung forth from Love, American Style (see also “Love, Honor, Cherish and Buy” in today’s New York Times). Most of our cultural expectations (and fantasies, and — ergo — resulting disappointments) are market driven, from Barbie to Prom to marriage. It is, therefor, largely futile to resist.

Still, as Michael Stipe so eloquently tought me with the refrain of REM’s 1987 hit, “The Finest Worksong,” “What we want / And what we need / Has been confused.”

Do we need a six-slice toaster with a built-in panini press? Do we need an eighteen-cup, self-cleaning coffee maker? Do we need a seven inch boning knife precision ground from thirty-three layers of Damascus steel?

Distinguishing want and need is, I think, crucial.

My buddy CJ recently suggested I embrace the process.

“You just gotta’ get into it,” he said. “Learn to love the scan gun, dude.”

His philosophy, apparently, is widely espoused, as Abbi and I bumped into two other couples with SKU scanners.

“Look, honey, how cute. He’s doing all the scanning too!”

“Oh yeah,” the dude said. “This is our seventh store. I can nab a bar code from twenty feet.”

Of course, the truth is that what dudes scan isn’t really up to the dudes.

And so there we were wandering the aisles, SKU scanner in hand, perusing non-stick baking trays, juicers, spatulas, whisks, knives, forks and spoons.

I’ll admit, though, that I didn’t do a terrific job feigning interest. My idea of cooking is, so place settings and placemats don’t do much for me. And that SKU scanner made a hideous beep every time we added something as if to scream, “Hey! Look! We’re Registering!”

Given my druthers, I’d register at REI or iTunes or amass airline miles or cheritable donations.

Still, I was with Abbi, and I wasn’t at work, so it wasn’t all bad. In fact, we had a few good laughs.

On the way out we realized that, for various odd reasons, we had just over a thousand bucks in cash between us.

“You wanna’ go grab some hookers and blow?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I’m your hooker, and you’re my blow.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I think you just wrote my lede.”

Well, the kicker anyway.

And we laughed (‘cuz Abbi doesn’t usually share my potty mouth), walked to the bank, and headed home for dinner.

And as we walked, I hummed that JC Penney ad and wondered, what’s next? The The for Nissan? Is everything for sale?

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