“It’s like playing laser tag,” said the smiling Crate & Barrel associate, explaining to my fiancee and me how to use the barcode scanner before sending us off into the wilderness that was two floors packed with home goods.
The laser tag comment, I gathered, was for my benefit—an attempt to engage the historically less-interested half of a male-female couple when it comes to registering for wedding gifts. Patronizing as it might have been, I couldn’t help appreciate the effort to involve me. It reminded me of the way older siblings let their younger siblings “play” video games with them by handing them an unplugged controller and letting them go nuts. The younger sibling gets to participate in the game, or so he thinks, despite the fact that he doesn’t actually have control over anything in front of him. (Sorry, Danny, but I absolutely pulled this stunt with you when we were kids. You were not, in fact, the Tecmo Bowl touchdown maker you thought you were.)
Our first stop was the refreshments table, set up for the exclusive registry event we were attending; “exclusive” meant we were allowed inside the store from 9 to 11 am on a Sunday morning, before the store opened to the general public. But much to our chagrin, we learned that the mimosas we’d been told we’d get were actually non-alcoholic cocktails of sparkling grape juice with OJ. We grabbed coffees instead and headed downstairs, past the couches and kitchen tables that our one-bedroom apartment wouldn’t be able to accommodate.
With only two hours on the clock, we decided to tackle place settings first. C&B’s display included about twenty pre-arranged dishware sets—that’s dinner plate, salad plate, bowl, and coffee cup for the nuptial neophytes out there. An associate found us perusing and encouraged us to “play around” with pieces from different sets and explained that we didn’t necessarily have to be so “matchy-matchy” with our selections. She even set us up with our own area at a kitchen table with a placemat.
We found a nice gravel-colored dinner plate with brown trim around the outside that we liked. Next was the salad plate. For that set, as with most sets, the salad plate was just a smaller version of the dinner plate in the exact same color and design. We didn’t want to be too matchy-matchy, so we looked for something else to offset the gravel. We found three different black salad plates from three different sets across a gradient of shininess—from very shiny to no shine (or matte). We chose the middle one. Next, we realized we couldn’t use the bowl from our original set because it was too shallow. What if I needed to bring my bowl of cereal from the kitchen to the living room? Was I confident that this shallow bowl would keep my cereal and milk within the confines of the bowl’s edges? I was not. Luckily, we found a bowl from another set, in turquoise, that we both agreed was functional and aesthetically pleasing relative to the dinner and salad plates.
After we got the dishware down, we move onto the flatware. (I know what you’re thinking: But you didn’t choose your coffee cups! YOU MUST COMPLETE THE SET. Relax. We decided that we liked the idea of serving coffee or tea using funky, mismatched coffee cups. Turns out, we were already avoiding matchy-matchiness in our home and didn’t even realize it.) Selecting our flatware was simply a matter of picking regular-looking forks, spoons and knives. (Incidentally, I wonder if there are couples who spend hours deliberating over their first set of flatware. Honey, I want people to remember our butter knives.)
Before we left that section of the store, it was time to scan all the items, LASER TAG STYLE. And let me tell you, that lady was right: it was exactly like playing laser tag. (Note: It was nothing like playing laser tag.) I was in charge of scanning each item. But after adding eight dinner plates to our registry, I noticed that our salad plates were double the price of the dinner plates…surely, no one would buy us such expensive salad plates! So it was back to the drawing board, but thankfully we were able to replace the black salad plates with white ones without throwing off the delicate balance of the place setting. Consider that bullet dodged. I scanned the bowls, the flatware, some glassware we’d chosen—including four port/sherry glasses, for all the port/sherry we anticipate serving to our hypothetical dinner party guests—and the original placemat the associate had set us up with (by then we were too drained to keep shopping for a different one).
After a quick stop in the cookware section—which included a free sample of bacon sausage cooked in a wonderful Le Cruset skillet!—we were just about out of time and decided to wrap things up by hooking our laser gun, I mean scanner, up to a computer that saved our list and created an account for us. Our registry was officially “live.”
My fiancee’s mother later explained that we should have registered for at least twelve of everything, not eight—our hypothetical dinner party guest list had grown by four hypothetical people—so clearly, there is more work to be done. But if nothing else, it was a start.