Sunday, December 14, 2008

Getting some class at the mall

You know the economy’s not going well when the people who stashed their money in pickle jars are feeling smug. But still, as I read the news about the Obama administration’s proposals to alleviate our problems by raining money upon our nation’s infrastructure, my heart swells with hope that, besides the nicety of having bridges that don’t fall down, we may soon build more of what makes this country great, namely urinal dividers. Sure, bridges connect us, but I think most guys would agree that a country can’t be truly united until its urinals are divided.

And say what you will about our current economic difficulties, but you can’t blame my household. My wife Kara has done her part to help spend our way out of this crisis by attending a decorating class at Pottery Barn with some of her friends. For those not familiar with Pottery Barn, it’s the store in the mall where, if you have forty-nine bucks burning a hole in your Dooney and Bourke money-dispensing device, you can come home with a truly stunning fake stick.

To be fair, I just checked online, and the fake stick I saw in the store with Kara a few weeks ago, when I held my breath until she stopped looking at it, is not really a fake stick at all. It’s a Bittersweet Statement Branch. The Statement: I obviously live somewhere with no trees. The branch is actually on sale at the time of this writing (about three minutes after my deadline) for only thirty-four bucks. Still, even though it’s on sale, I think I’ll pass on purchasing one for now, since I’m pretty sure buying one would only make me feel the first part of bittersweet.

When Kara told me that she’d signed up for the class, I was impressed. If there’s one thing that’s difficult to find in the mall, it’s a commitment to higher education. And also the bathroom that’s tucked down the corridor to the loading docks. Oh, and a security guard to haul away the person from the lotion pagoda who tries to break your stride by asking, “Can I ask you a question?” as if they haven’t already done so.

I was surprised to learn that the admissions process for the Pottery Barn class wasn’t more stringent; Kara and her friends didn’t need to provide transcripts or references, or take standardized tests with questions like “colon:semicolon::Colin Powell: ?”. You’d expect that sort of free pass from the store with the vibrating footstools, but not Pottery Barn.

“What are you going to learn at this class?” I asked.

“We’re going to learn some holiday decorating tips,” Kara said. Sensing that she hadn’t quite convinced me of the academic merit yet, she added, “And the things they show us are all 10% off.”

This, of course, sent a shiver down my joint checking account. When Kara hears 10% off, I hear 90% on.

“Are you sure you’ve thought this through?” I asked. “There are so many questions you need to consider before matriculating in a Pottery Barn program. For instance, can the credits you earn in this class be carried over if you decide you want to transfer to Crate and Barrel? Maybe you should take a year off to find yourself before jumping into this.”

But Kara went on ahead to school with her friends, leaving me at home with an empty nest that was, for the moment, not built out of fake sticks. Left behind with the dog, I quickly developed my own home school curriculum devoted largely to the scientific method; specifically, I spent the afternoon testing hypotheses relating to how long the dog could hold it between presses of the pause button on the PlayStation 3.

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  1. I wonder if K-mart do something similar - it would always come in handy as a safety program.

  2. (: We, the friends at the class, saved your joint checking account quite a bit a money that day. We took a lap around the mall to tire her card swiping hand in other less glamorous fake stick stores before finally making the Pottery Barn purchases. You should be proud!

  3. Gotta stick up for Kara a bit here...

    In her defense, you've probably spent $49 x 100 to kill fake soldiers and throw fake footballs to fake wide receivers.

    You know what's worse than no urinal dividers? The trough. I hate that thing.

  4. Allover: The trough is bad... the bathtub is worse :(... especially when it's in the middle of the room! I'm never going back to that place!

  5. JL -- Exxon could put on gas-pumping classes in New Jersey, too. It's about time those folks learned how.

    Emily -- You commented! Word. Glad you had my back. Or her arm. Same thing.

    Allover -- Dude, if I see a trough, I'll just pretend like I went in there to check what's left of my hair and hold it 'til I find a bathroom designed by someone who doesn't hate dudes.

    Sergey -- Is that place in Russia?

  6. I was in NYC and I went into the bathroom and there was a bathtub in the middle of the room. I used it and then soon realized that it was actually a communal sink for both the women and men. the actual bathrooms were through another door. And yes, a chick walked in on me.