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Todd sat with his legs crossed on the floor model of the Chesterfield Upholstered Sofa at the Pottery Barn on the corner of 87th and Canal Street. The stack of umbrellas left at the entrance made for a very Sunday feeling Sunday. He knew he had to get her out of the apartment before they opened at 11 a.m., and get her out of the apartment he did.
His rain jacket was completely unzipped revealing a sweater that sat atop a t-shirt. His jeans had some lingering wetness from their run into the store, but nothing that wouldn’t dry up within the next ten minutes. With his index finger, he scrolled and tinkered with his fantasy football lineup much as he had done for the days leading up.
“Todd,” he heard from a distance. “Can you come here?”
He looked over at his fiancée who held what appeared to be a dark grey Palm Pilot from the late 90s. Ripping himself from the deep sofa, he sauntered over to her.
“Do you like these plates, or these plates?” she asked while pointing at two seemingly identical sets of tableware.
“Uhhhhhh,” he stuttered. He had a gut feeling that there was a right answer and a wrong answer, but he clearly had no idea which was which. Pointing at the set of plates on the left, he simply answered, “I think these.”
She quickly rolled her eyes and put her hand on her forehead. “Ugh,” she let out, “I knew you’d pick those ones — you’re so boring.”
Todd considered trying to put some justification behind his choice, but even after staring at them for 45 seconds, he had no actual idea of what the difference was between the two.
In his opinion, registries were more of a luxurious annoyance than they were a convenience. They were renting an apartment, so it simply made no sense to him to pick out every single furnishing and accessory they’d want ahead of actually buying a home. Furthermore, Todd felt like giving a pre-selected list to everyone invited to their wedding seemed tacky. Yes, it’s as tradition goes, but it all felt somewhat handout-y to him.
“Then let’s just go with these ones,” he pointed.
“I mean, no, Todd,” she snapped back, “The only reason you want to go with these now is because you know that I like them more.”
“I’ll be honest, babe,” he admitted, “I don’t really have much of an opinion because I don’t really see much of a difference.”
She shut her eyes. Her body language said everything that needed to be said, but of course, she said it anyway. With her hand on her Lululemon legging-covered him, she set down the registry device and positioned herself directly in front of both sets of dinnerware.
“Okay, Todd,” she began. “Here you have the Mason and, on the right, you have the Au Naturale. For the 16-piece set of the Mason, it’s $116 per set. For the 16-piece set of the Au Naturale, it’s $136. Right now they’re running a special so they’re actually ten percent off. I like the Au Naturale, but if you like the Mason so much, we can just go with the Mason.”
Todd didn’t know where to begin.
“I sent photos to my mom and she thinks these are too modern and not traditional enough. Is she right? I mean, maybe, but I told her we would go more traditional when we register for the china and crystal.”
Todd finally decided where to begin.
“Why do we need 16-piece sets?” he asked. “Can’t we just get, like, plates and bowls?”
He could see her hands clench and her knuckles begin to turn white. They had already been at Pottery Barn for 45 minutes and the only things added to their registry were a blanket, a wicker basket, a cocktail shaker, and two throw pillows.
“Todd,” she began to lecture. “These aren’t 16 different pieces. It’s four dinner plates, four salad plates, four mugs and four cereal bowls. Is it really that freaking hard to understand?”
He felt stupid, but he didn’t feel as though he should feel stupid. After all, he had never shopped for dinnerware before, let alone dinnerware sets. John had warned him that the absolute worst part of being engaged was going to be registering, and Todd understood that sentiment just an hour in.
“Okay, let’s go with the Au Naturale, and let’s get, like, three sets of 16?” He was attempting to be decisive and proactive, and on the surface, it paid immediate dividends.
“Finally,” she mouthed to him as he smiled with content. Todd’s elation must have been visible, like a child who got their first math equation right.
Setting the Mason aside, Todd thought they could finally move on. That is until her next question came.
“Okay, so now we have to decide on which color?”
He didn’t audibly say, “Fuckkkkkkkkkkk,” but he thought it ten times over.
“There’s White, Light Grey, and Cream,” she told him while staring deeply at each. “My inclination is to go with white, but that’s, like, so boring. I’m almost leaning toward cream because it goes with the placemats we already got from Aunt Theresa and Uncle Kip.”
“Aren’t we going to register for new placemats though?” he asked just before forcibly shoving his foot in his mouth. “Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit.”
“See, Todd!” she mocked. “You’re finally getting it!”
This wasn’t a source of pride for him as much as it was a damning of his spirit. He glanced down to his phone — 12:13 p.m. — and mentally calculated how long it would take them to Uber back in the rain to their apartment to see kick-off.”
“I think we should go with the cream and just base our other tabletop choices off of it,” she thought aloud. “After all, it’s much easier to flip out napkins and placemats than it is to buy new dinnerware.”
She pointed the device at the pricetags and registered them for four sets of the 16-piece Au Naturale dinnerware in Cream.
“See!” she said to him with a hint of relief in her voice, “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Todd couldn’t tell if she was joking or not, but that wasn’t his concern. He knew they still had a lot to do, but with the right attitude and a pinch of decisiveness, he figured they could be done by 1:30, at the earliest.
Attempting to impose some structure and initiative, he asked, “So do we want to move on to the china and crystal you mentioned a little bit ago, or should we do the bed sheets and stuff first?”
Her eyes surveyed the entirety of the store before finally answering, “Well, considering we have to go to Barneys after this to register for the crystal, we might as well head over to the bath and bedding now. Do you want to get lunch at that new make-your-own salad place before we go there?” .