The Insanity of Pointless Indulgence: 10 Things I Learned at Crate & Barrel Today

Ah, that time of year when the desperation factor intensifies as you search for perfect holidays gifts, venturing into high-end stores that you don’t normally frequent…


1. I clearly don’t make enough money in my life.

What do people do for a living that are able to afford paying $250 for a simple white serving bowl with a single, tiny flower painted in the middle of it? I’m assuming that Michelangelo must have done the diminutive artwork, because otherwise there’s just no reason. And a coffee maker that costs $500? An ugly coffee maker that looks like someone took a hit of peyote in the desert and then made some very poor decisions.


2. Wireless phones are the new black.

Every single person in the store was talking on one. (Except me, of course. I politely chose to keep my communication device holstered, shoved into my jeans pocket where it would firmly remain during my visit, unless a startling but strangely-pleasant buzzing alerted my genitals that I had an incoming call.) I don’t think it’s right to meander around a store with a possibly unhealthy chunk of slim metal spewing radiation into my ear, babbling loudly about unimportant things that no one else wants to hear.

Besides, you need to pay attention to what you are doing, which is, theoretically, shopping, and not analyzing skanky footwear that this store doesn’t even sell, on the phone with your friend Brenda that hasn’t had a job since computers were invented. Do you see that towering stack of limited-edition cocktail glasses, signed by somebody in Sweden who might actually be important some day? If you knock that crap over while distracted with texting your boyfriend from three relationships ago, about tofu of all things, you are never going to make enough money the rest of your life to pay for the damages.


3. How have I lived my entire life without owning an appliance specifically designed to toast your individual miniature marshmallows so that your cocoa is just right while you watch polo being played?

How? The shame is overwhelming. I am incomplete.


4. There are still actually people named “Muffy” in the world.

At least I think that’s what her name was. Things were a bit unclear. She might have been drunk, based on the application of her makeup. In any case, we became fast friends whilst perusing a display of enameled cooking tongs, trying to decide which of the 400 available colors would be appropriate after Labor Day. She babbled constantly. I grunted. Somewhere along the line I learned that she raises Berkshires. Or lives there. Something like that.


5. If you really, really like something, you can’t afford it.

This scenario happened repeatedly: I would turn a corner, spy something incredible and moving, race up to fondle it delicately, envision exactly where I could place it in my home, timidly flip over the little price tag, and find myself staring at a figure that matched one I had paid for a semester of college.

So, I learned to not even bother with the most attractive things, because there was no point in setting myself up for that kind of disappointment. My mood-stabilizing medication can only do so much before we must up the dosage. I lowered my expectations and I only became intimate with mediocre and less-attractive things. Which also reminded me of college.


6. You would never know that the economy was in any kind of trouble based on the merchandise piling out of the store.

Entire fleets of trucks were backing up to the loading dock, with service people scurrying about, transporting the 144 place settings that one of the Kardashians had personally picked out whilst getting a hot-stone massage in Tibet. CEO types were marching in the door, barking take-over orders into the phone in one hand, and waving their other hand at the 15 hand-carved armoires that the Missus needed as door prizes at the next meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Our Money.


7. The workers in this place can tell if you have money just by one look.

I was constantly being shoved to the side by bustling employees who had noticed someone behind me with a higher credit-card limit. I was relegated to one of the new trainees, who didn’t know any better, and certainly didn’t know where anything was in the store. I had to assist her with another customer who was looking for the jewel-encrusted fondue prongs. She later asked me if I knew where the bathroom might be.


8. Rich people have a different accent.

It’s not a real accent, by any means, merely something they came up with during their spare time when they weren’t working for a living. They also like to add extra syllables to words like “really” and “darling”. It’s completely annoying. Then again, if I had enough money to spend the equivalent of the entire national budget of Algeria on a shot glass hand-blown by Monica Lewinski, I might find it imperative to come up with my own language as well.


9. The checkout people don’t care for it when you buy multiple small items.

Oh, they pretend to be all polite and everything, but they find it incredibly tedious to actually count things, especially lots of things that don’t cost very much. Sorry, folks. I can only afford these pointless tiny spoons over here, that one might use for ladling small amounts of caviar or feeding Barbie. I’m going to give one to all of my friends and purposely leave part of the price tag on it so they can get the impression I shop here all the time. After all, it’s the Holidays, when people try to impress one another with their gift-giving, and it is imperative that we uphold pointless traditions whilst ignored homeless people just want a warm place to stay at night.


10. It’s apparently a social blemish to refuse a gift receipt.

I told the little man manning the check-out counter at least three times that I didn’t need one. (They’re stupid little spoons. If they don’t work out, people will just throw them in the trash and then lie about the disappearance, claiming burglary or some such.) The little man made small, exasperated noises each time I rebuffed his advances. Clearly, this man was completely worn out, not impressed with my inability to respond in a manner that corresponded with the three minutes of training exercises he had suffered through during his orientation.

His little friend, the Gift Box Lady, was also troubled by the lack of a gift receipt. As she swathed each spoon in crackly packing materials and then shoved them in gleaming white boxes, she inquired on the status of the gift receipt for every single spoon, hoping each time that there might actually be one, and therefore the world could be a better place.

Eventually, I was allowed to leave the establishment, despite my awkward country ways and gift-receipt illiteracy. I trotted out the door, lugging a bag loaded with spoons, wrapped in boxes that cost more than the actual contents. Before climbing in my car, I turned and waved at Muffy, who was standing on the sidewalk and wondering why no one was bringing her another cocktail.

Just down the street, in a tiny park that had seen better days, a single mother sat on a bench and kept a careful eye on her children as they played. She hoped to finally get them something nice this year, but she wasn’t sure how she could do that since the minimum wage hasn’t been raised in this country for more than a decade. And the Republicans in Congress just voted for a Tax Bill that benefits the rich and denigrates anyone who isn’t, a soulless and inexcusable action.

Let’s work on our priorities, shall we? Decency is so much better than pointless spoons that nobody will ever use.



Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 12/15/10 and in “Bonnywood Manor” more times than it should have been. Slight changes made, but the song remains the same. Story behind the photo: Slats in a park bench, although this particular park is in my back yard. (The artistic side of me envisioned the slats representing the barriers between the lower and upper classes, but really, they’re just slats. Sometimes you just have to wing it with the creativity and hope for the best.)

If you squint, you can see that there’s no snow in the background, which somewhat negates the intended Christmas flair. We don’t get much snow in Texas, which is kind of surprising, as the Republicans here love the color white almost as much as they love the color green. That aside, if you still gift during the holidays, make sure it’s the right things for the right reasons. (Tip: Sometimes the best gift is what you can give to someone who will never know who you are.) And under no circumstances should you ever buy a Berkshire from someone named Muffy…


27 replies »

  1. It’s always fun to read your posts. You are so right about these posh stores and the stuff they sell at such extravagant prices. But the last lines are what this post is about. We give to those who may never use it and certainly don’t need any of the gifts we squared money on. And the people most in need are often forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. More and more these days, Brian, I’m reminded of the adage, “Live simply so other can simply live.” It’s probably not a popular notion at Crate & Barrel . . . and it would be blasphemy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (where the irony of blood-red Christmas trees eludes the residents).

    Liked by 4 people

    • Love that adage. Perhaps I’m naive, but I just can’t grasp how some folks don’t understand that we’re all in this together, and if you leave people behind, we don’t move forward. (And the blood-red trees? Perfect image of what is wrong at 1600…)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, to wonder around such a shop- not a store, a shop- and be ignored by all because you happen to darken their doorstep by wearing shorts and t-shirt. Classic classism. However, I would simply die to pay for a hand blown Lewinski shot glass, but only if its wrapped in the collectable blue display swatch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You just got so many bonus points with the clever blue-swatch reference. I might have to upgrade your guest accommodations here at Bonnywood Manor, something that doesn’t always happen… 😉


  4. It has been many years since I’ve shopped in a posh store – or shop – or whatever you might wish to call it. Cannot say I’ve missed the experience at all. I find the holidays much more holiday-ish since the only gift-giving I do anymore is something I’ve made, if anything at all. Last year my neighbor friends each got a loaf of homemade French Herb Bread. This year they will all be gone to be with families, so the bread I make will stay in my house for my children and for me. My kids? What is the proper term for adult offspring?

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, I believe the proper definition of adult offspring is “those who think they have figured it all out but they haven’t quite yet done so”. (No offense to your own lineage, as I’m sure they are wonderful people and I’m basing this reference on my own experiences.) Second, although all of your comment was quite lovely, I’m enraptured with the homemade French Herb Bread. How can I arrange to receive such, because I am now desperately yearning to do so… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m pretty sure my adult offspring often think they’ve figured it all out only to get whomped on the head, wake up, and realize they have not, after all.
        Not sure how well it would mail, but I could send you the recipe. 😌

        Liked by 1 person

  5. #2 is EVERYWHERE, not only at high end stores that purvey useless (and ugly) items for those with too much money and too little taste and/or sense. Except for you and your partner of course. Now you went IN there either in search of the facilities (because, let us face it, if one is going to get caught short in public, using high end dunnees is the way to go…besides having superior hand soap that doesn’t leave one’s hands chapped enough to sand wood with) or because you have someone on your list that needed something tastefully expensive. Perhaps each other. Today at my grocery store I encountered no less than 15 or 20 addicts of the %$!# wireless yappage trend, who did not know it, but who were in imminent danger of having their f*ckin’ phones snatched from their gormless selves and flung into the nearest vat of gooey liquid that I might find. Including the possibly rarely cleaned grease trap at the cutesy ‘deli’ my store sports. Or the ubiquitous Starbucks and their latest vile connoction of the season involving pumpkin spice and I don’t want to know. I bet it’d take the shine off the best I-idiocy has to offer though. I ran into one dullard who was having a heated debate (in the middle of the aisle in front of the ORANGES FFS) with someone about the merits of red or green cahdied ‘fruit” (shudder gag). I should have vomited on their phone. Maybe that’d have taught them. Prepare thyself for further commentary as I finish yon post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. …continued. I should have made it clear that I LITERALLY ran into that idiot with the red/green candied peel fetish. They yelped, and skipped nimbly to areas free of semi-lucid old bats hyped up on cough syrup and cold meds, who bear ill will and no peace to a f*ckface with a %$@#^%! cell phone in their mitt at all. Who are driving around in wheelie carts. Those things hurt if they hit you. Back to the list: Ah. You know, of course, that you don’t actually have to physically attend a Crate & Barrel? You can have delivered to your very door (well mail stoppage place which isn’t at MY personal door) a slick magazine, highly glossy with items that make you find your life dull and without meaning because you can’t afford a set of sterling silver swizzle sticks with neon colour accents and only will cost you half a year’s ‘salary’. There’s six. I should have gone with the caviar spoons. Not that I bought nor considered either. My loved ones are getting bupkiss this year. I’ve sent out a mass email (to both of them) that they are NOT to gift me because I cannot reciprocate and because I found for myself THE Christmas present. Tis the season to be self-centered. And it snowed here. Yay. Big whoop too. You can read about the Advent of the Grampus in Chez Melanie on my own blog. And why I now understand that Scrooge (pre-ghost laden) had a freakin’ point of sorts. The rich bastard. He COULD have just shared the wealth to start with, but as you astutely pointed out in your last paragraphs, those people (they being “obscenely wealthy and without heart, soul or compassion”) never give anything of merit anyway. Despite the price tag, which you can bet is firmly affixed to whatever expensive tacky P.O.S. they buy. Yep. I’m a bit bitter, which tells me It’s time to stop wailing on your wall and go back to bed. Where I have vague plans of spending my time until the idiocy is gone away. Which means, of course, that I may never ever get up again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, the refreshing allure of your great commentary always manages to re-energize my own writing. I can be in the midst of a creative slump, weakly pecking out words that I know I will eventually delete, then I stumble across one of your missives and I’m good to go again. You have such an exuberance with your expressions, all of them witty and on-point. I absolutely LURVE the Christmas season, but it is becoming harder and harder to deal with the idiots who have lost (or never had) any sense of what this season is all about. I know it’s time to retreat to Bonnywood Manor and seal the doors for some recuperative time when my hand is actually twitching as I fight the urge to haul off and slap said idiots until they are whimpering masses of jelly on the floor. Hark, the Herald Angels are NOT appreciative of the self-indulgent madness and phuckery that some “humans” represent…


  7. I don’t do much Christmas gifting. I had to actually google to see if this crate and barrell was an actual store or an elaborate and well written fiction. Which gave me a huge laugh because they’re real! Their website actually reads “A clean way to do the holidays” which made me think of a prostitute named Holly who always kept a wet cloth warmer by her bed. The kind like they have in nail salons, in order to clean up her clients before and after the deed. Which made me laugh more. What can I say, my mind goes weird places. I hope your holidays are a blast. Spooning is more fun than spoons. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Raises Berkshires! Lol. Though now i kind of want one. Bet they’re adorable.

    I am not going to start on my feelings about Congressional Republicans. Trust me. It’s better that way. I will say; however, that i’m rabidly rooting for Mueller to get the goods on our hideous ‘President’.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So true: Crate & Barrel staff can TOTALLY tell how much money/credit you have with just a cursory glance.

    Also: A marshmallow toasting appliance? Now that I know there’s such a thing, I’m not sure I can go on without one.

    Please take me with you the next time you’re planning a trip here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I would be happy to take you along on my next venture into high-end consumerism. Even though I poke fun and all, there are some amazingly fascinating things one can acquire if one is independently wealthy. There’s no harm in window-shopping… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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