This weekend I experienced an unparalleled feeling of dread. For a split second my entire body convulsed with the massive surge of adrenaline resulting from the sheer panic that had crippled my entire nervous system. For that briefest of moments all time seemed to stop, the world ceased to function and life as I knew it was coming to an end. My wife was wandering alone, unsupervised, in the Crate and Barrel outlet store.
The trip had started off innocently enough. We were on our way back from Trader Joes (we really solidified our yuppie credentials this weekend) and my wife said, “Honey, let’s stop at the Crate and Barrel and pick up a serving tray.” I thought to myself, “OK, this can’t be too bad, we have a clearly defined goal (get a tray) and a strict timetable (due to the frozen pizzas sitting in my car on a 95 degree day) so she can’t do too much damage.” And so I replied, “Sure, Honey, good idea!” We pulled into the parking lot, navigated around the swarm of SUVs, Volvos and Priuses, headed into the store and started to look around, my sense of frugality instantly starting to fade in the soft, comforting light of fluorescence bouncing off white melamine crockery and Brazilian Walnut cutting boards. I think the thing I hate most about Crate and Barrel is how every single thing in the store seems to be designed with me in mind. It’s almost as if a team of top scientists, interior designers and psychologists had been put into a room and told, “Design an entire store around this one person.” Sure enough, they succeeded. I love just about everything in the Crate and Barrel store, which means that either the store was designed solely with me in mind (possible, but unlikely) or the store was designed with a specific socio-economic group in mind, which I happen to fall squarely into (sad, but true). The same is true with my wife, but she doesn’t bother with the internal ramifications of loss of identity, she just goes straight for the kitchen gadgets.
So there we were, happily looking at the cutting board section when I suddenly turned around and realized my wife was no longer by my side. I looked behind me, looked to the side, looked in every spatial plane, cold sweat forming on my brow the entire time when it suddenly hit me: She was nowhere to be seen. I frantically scanned the store looking for any sign of my phantom wife. Maybe she was over in the furniture section, she had mentioned she was interested in getting a new end table…no, not there. Maybe she was over by the pillows…no such luck…where was she?! By this point panic had completely overpowered my every sense and all I could think of was, FIND HER BEFORE SHE CAN SPEND ANY MONEY!!! Then, suddenly, I caught a glimpse of her. She was mostly obscured by a stand of martini glasses, but there she was, and I knew I had to reach her. Jolted into action, completely devoid of my senses, I raced across the store, flatware flying, place settings crashing to the floor, small chilldren getting knocked over; I left in my wake a trail of destruction akin to a tornado touching down in a trailer park, but with better home furnishings. The floor was lined with shattered tea pots, crying children and the broken dreams of a young couple that really wanted that serving platter that had gotten caught up in my whirlwind of destruction. I finally reached my wife, panting, sweat dripping from my face, blood flowing freely from my arms, pieces of jagged pottery protruding from my skin. Trying my best to hide my concern I casually asked, “Hey Honey, find anything you like?” She replied, “Um, not really, I don’t see anything that will work for us. We can go whenever you’re ready.” A tidal wave of relief flooded over me as I realized we weren’t going to be spending any money that day. I casually replied, “Oh, OK, I’m ready to go then.” And so we exited the building, I doing my best to guide my wife to the exit without her seeing the destruction I had caused in my panic-induced state. We left the building, got in the car, and just as I thought we were clear my wife says, “Maybe we can stop at Pier One on the way home.”