Once, at a graduation party, I was sitting with my wife, our friend Gail August, and some of the graduating seniors. We were talking about people's favorite subjects in school, and Gail said, "I think with history, you either love it or you hate it. Jenna, how do you like history?" To which Jenna replied, "It's alright," thereby destroying Gail's original thesis. For some reason, this cracked me up.
Anyway, I feel the same way about Valentine's Day. Like, you're either supposed to love it (mostly if you're a girl) or hate it (mostly if you're a guy). But if you asked me, I'd tell you, "It's alright." I don't love it like, say, Christmas or my birthday, but I certainly don't think I hate it. I'm mostly indifferent. And at least I've had some interesting ones. Like my first Valentine's Day with Sara when I borrowed her car and drove it into a telephone pole. (That's hyperbole, but whatever.) Most recently, Valentine's Day resulted in my first visit to Designs by Maida (inexplicably pronounced MAY-dee-uh), a new boutique on the square in Woodstock that sells nice stuff for your house, mostly.
I was in the market for a gift for my lovely wife, and since we just bought property on which to build a new house, I thought I'd get something with which to decorate said house. Seemed timely. So I decide to walk in and do a little browsing. Immediately, this woman (I'm going to call her Maida, even though her name was something like Kate) says, "Welcome to Designs by Maida! Can I help you find something?" Very friendly. And I told her I was just browsing for a Valentine's Day gift, so she backed off for about 15 seconds before reattaching herself to me and asking, once again, if there was something she could help me find. Well, during that 15 seconds, it had become clear that I was out of my league at this place. The first thing I looked at (not because I was going to buy it, but because I was intrigued) was a door knocker in the shape of a pig's head. It cost $250. I was not going to buy anything at Designs by Maida.
But I didn't want to be rude, so I said, "Sure, Maida. Imagine that you and your husband have just bought a new house, and he's looking to spend about $75 on a gift that you can use to help decorate that new house, and he walks into this store. What would you want him to buy?" Now, I feel like I did that well because 1) I think salespeople like it when you ask them stuff like that. Same with servers at restaurants; 2) I'm being friendly, so she might give me a break on something; and 3) I've made my budget clear. So Maida thinks for a minute, then she says, "Candle holders."
Yeah, okay. That could be cool. And it seems like I should be able to get a nice set for $75, so I say, "Okay. Show me your candle holders." She asks if my wife would prefer glass or wood. Definitely wood. We're not fancy people. So she leads me to a shelf with maybe a dozen different kinds of wood candle holders. "And all of our candles are on sale," she tells me. So the first candle holder I look at is the biggest one, which might have been a mistake on my part, but it was nice-looking, so I thought I'd check out the price. $210. Are you kidding me, Maida? For a freakin' candle holder? So I start wondering what the price range is here. I look at the smallest one on the shelf. $108. Did I not make myself clear? First of all, under no circumstances would I buy a damn candle holder for $108. And this is especially true when I told the salesperson that I didn't want to spend more than $75. Did she not hear me? Did she think I was kidding? What the hell?
Anyway, now I'm standing there looking at candle holders that I'm not going to buy, and Maida is staring at me, and I don't know what to do. So I tell her I'm going to keep looking around. I walk around and find lamps that cost $300; blankets that cost $450; a wine rack that cost $1,200. I remember hearing a George Carlin bit where he says that he wanted to open a restaurant where one meal cost $10,000, so they'd only have to have one customer a day to make money. I wonder if Maida didn't hear that same bit and take it seriously. Regardless, I walk around, worrying that I'll knock over a $5,000 teapot or something, until I finally make something up about how I have somewhere to be and I don't want to rush the decision, so I'll be back. I don't know if she bought it, but I don't care. $450 for a freakin' blanket. It didn't even look that warm.
So I got my beautiful bride some wall art from Target, a singing card, flowers, and a big Toblerone bar. And now I'm going to tell her that I love her on my blog.
I love you.