Life is tough. That’s why there’s West Elm

You know what I got Tina for our anniversary?

A rug.

A rug to match the drapes.

Oh, and I got her a stomach ache. The dinner we ate at Province was sooooooo filling. We were both wallowing in grunts afterward.

Mind you, the meal was delectable. But food shouldn’t be consumed in great excess. Not because it says so in the bible. But because sometimes I want enough room in my innards to drink a beer after dinner.

But this damn rug. What the hell was I thinking? We shopped for jewelry that day, too. But shopping for jewelry is goddamn worthless to me. I know, I’m a guy.

And I’m kinda cheap. But … 

If the first time you see a sparkly thing that costs between $149 and $75,000 and you want one or all of it, it might be something you should sleep on.

I’m not one to consider the day of an event the only opportunity to make it work. I usually celebrate my birthday for a month. I’m not the only selfish prick to do it. I’m in good company.

So let’s just say, Tina’s anniversary present could be out there and we need to find it.

On our anniversary, we stopped by a store called West Elm after our jewelry bust. Tina wanted to look at a rug she wanted. I told her I’d get it for her. Instead of buying it, she checked out a sample of the rug for $25. If you bring back the sample, you get your money back or $25 toward your purchase.

Big whoop.

West Elm is a furniture store with a penchant for merchandising cheap furniture to look expensive, expensive enough but priced well enough to get a lot of people to buy their product and litter their homes with it.

Yesterday, the day after our anniversary, Tina turned to me and said, “I want that rug. Will you go with me to pick it up?”

“I don’t really want to, but okay.”

I wasn’t too put out by this rug. It’s nice and we need to replace Talulah and Zoe’s center for puke distribution we have in front of our TV now.

So we went. I’m not a shopper. If I spend more than 10 minutes in a space that I’m not photographing, I get bored. Really, really bored.

The type of ennui that puts crack addicts into rehab.

After this special trip to this stupid store to pick up this godforsaken rug, we found out it wasn’t in stock. Chris, the sales person, said, “It’s unfortunately not in … which is a good thing. That means it’s one people want.”

He learned that line in training. It flowed off the lips like a pickup line. It softens the disappointment that what you want is just not available, instead of shame on Billy the stock boy for dropping the ball on reordering.

Chris told us to go to the checkout and let them know that he’d cover the cost of shipping for us.

What a nice fella. Free fucking shipping.

So we go to check out, and Tina and the clerk start the ordering process, a process that should take all of three minutes and twelve seconds took upwards of about, what, three hours.

It felt like it anyway.

It was at least 30 minutes to do something I could have done online, by myself, in a dark room, with a window of porn rolling on my second monitor and a feed of NPR on another.

Tina was trying to get another 10% off by having the clerk charge her West Elm card, and then there was another possible 10% for patting her head and rubbing her belly at the same time.

I swear this happened.

I don’t believe in waiting and negotiating 10% increments off. The time I waited, I could have edited a photo or two or worked on a video editing job.

I tried walking away from the counter and “shopping” a bit. By “shopping” I mean, “look at people”. Stores like that are loaded with men and women, mainly women, shopping for poorly constructed, overpriced, yet good looking furniture and accessories. If you haven’t got $5,000 to buy a sofa and ottoman, buy a book, a kitchen knife or a rubber egg microwave maker thing. Don’t leave empty handed!

I circled back after looking at the back of a chest of drawers, made in Indonesia, primarily constructed of particle board and lost dreams. There was probably a side of, “Why was I born in a muslim, third world country, and I’m forced to make crappy furniture for rich white Christians in America? Allah must love me.”

Tina was still standing there, bellied up to the counter. The furrow on the clerks brow was reminiscent of a mad mathematician completing a long-lost Babylonian algorithm.

What she was figuring out was how to get another 10% off if the rug was shipped to the store and then Tina drove all the way, with her gas, her time, in her precious vehicle. All that for twenty seven bucks.

Fuck that. 

So I walked off again and “shopped.” This time I entertained the idea that I’d buy a couch to put in my office. A sectional. I’d finally re-do my office to look professional. It’s a hodgepodge now. It’s more of a dorm room than an office. I blame my need to upgrade gear and de-emphasize a space that is rarely seen by anyone other than Tina, me, and the few lovely over-night visitors we get.

So I walked over to one couch. The way they set it up is: the couch is one price, the ottoman another, the back supports are separated and I think the padding and upholstery are also staggered in price. To buy the couch as it is on the store, you need a calculator and a pad of paper. After doing a rough sum of one, cheap looking, gray couch, the total was $6,500.

That was before I added a desk and shelf system to get me going in my stupid little office.

I did the math on another couch, mouth farted when I figured the total, and I sat down on the couch in utter defeat. I should have butt farted.

I looked around the room at the other shoppers.

There was a 20-something, tall tan, drink of water woman wearing jean shorts that landed just above her ass and a white, see-through tee-shirt with a black bra. She had enough eye makeup on to repaint the Mona Lisa. She was shopping with her mom, who wasn’t wearing anything see through. They were staring at a wall of chairs and pillows. Arms were crossed and the young woman, probably a beach volleyball expert, placed her pointy finger near the edge of her mouth. You know, as if to say, “I’m smart. And my friends are going to gasp when they see this crap-ass furniture shitting up my one-bedroom in Lincoln Park.”

Near me, there was a couple in their 50s sitting on a couch with their store attendant. They bounced on the cushions a little and sat back to kick the tires a bit. I saw the man look at a young woman near by and his thought bubble read, “What I wouldn’t do to unclasp that girl’s bra while making out on this mediocre piece of furniture.”

I saw another woman squeezing a pillow and then looking off, b-lining for another pillow, squishing it and her thought bubble read, “My husband’s love will grow for me exponentially if I bring home ten new pillows and replace the ones I bought last year.”

Isn’t that what women think? If they buy more cheap home goods, if they add just one more $1,000 charge to their on-going credit debt, their man — or woman — will love them more.

I’d like to think that my love is not measured in home goods, but in hand jobs.

Oh, hand jobs and cuddles.

On cheap couches from West Elm.

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