“Why is furniture so expensive?!” I exclaimed to my wife after looking at another $1,200 armchair and mistakenly thinking the footrest was included. “That’s called an ottoman, and it’s another $400,” said Alex. “Well it’s made in the same fabric and obviously goes with the chair—who would buy this leather footrest, I mean ottoman, for anything other than this chair? Maybe we should regulate furniture as well as Wall Street,” I said in frustration. But Alex had already moved on.
Thankfully, Alex doesn’t actually buy stuff from these expensive places, she just uses them for ideas. Then she catalogs all that information in her brain somewhere and uses it later on when there’s a sale or she finds something similar online: price, color, fabric, all on instant recall. I have a hard enough time remembering a footrest is an ottoman, or the thing in our dining room with the good dishes is a credenza.
The first few years in our new Atlanta home was a constant hunt for deals. Not just furniture, but rugs, and lights, and fabric for curtains. I spent more time in Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Jo-Anne’s than any man should. But hey, I try to make the best of a situation, so I was in there searching for buttons and fabrics half the time…. and complaining the other half. I admit, I used the “business call” excuse more than normal to not have to go into some stores. There was a kid in a shopping cart at Jo-Anne’s one day who summed it up for me when he told his mom flat out, “this is not my idea of fun, Mom!”
Alex, however, is in her element in these kinds of places. She always has her coupons prepared, her comparable figures pulled out of her brain-file, and her mission statement clear: “Today we’re looking for thick blackout curtains in off-white for half-price,” she told me as we pulled into the parking lot. I had been to this store so many times, I actually knew which direction to go for the curtains. There were women hovering around the general area, probably due to the sale. This was when having me with her helped Alex tremendously. She was a bit too nice to her fellow shoppers, but I was more matter-of-fact. “Excuse me,” I said as I made my way to the off-white section. And I got there just in time—there was only one bolt left and barely enough for Alex’s project. I grabbed the bolt and wiggled out of there with our prize, only to discover I’d grabbed a thinner version than Alex wanted. “Excuse me, excuse me,” I said as I wiggled back in for another go.
When we got to the checkout line, Alex surreptitiously handed me a coupon and stepped back with another coupon for her buttons, or whatever she was getting, and acted like she didn’t even know me. I winked at her in acknowledgement. These places were limiting the number of coupons you could use for one purchase, so we had to work the system. We were a pretty good team…. until Restoration Hardware.
Restoration Hardware has probably ruined more than a few marriages. They have a way of wooing you into wanting not just one piece of furniture, but an entire way-of-furniture. They have set the bar (and prices) so high that no normal person can begin to shop there. I mean their flagship stores are places you’d want to live in, not just shop in. The Buckhead Atlanta store has such a nice rooftop deck and view of the city that you really just want to bring a picnic lunch and hangout.
Thank god for the Restoration Hardware outlet store. It’s a good hour drive from Atlanta, and they only have a limited selection, but if you’re patient you can find what you want. It also helps to befriend the employees, and Alex did just that by way of chance.
It just so happens Alex is a bit of a gay magnet. Gay men love her for her bubbly personality and general fashion and design sense. And for the fact that she looks a lot like Debra Messing—one of TV’s first real gay magnets. So this gay man who works at the RH outlet started up a chat with her, and they’ve been chatty ever since. She tells him what she’s looking for, and he calls her when it comes into the store. She then runs up to try to get the item before anyone else does. I’ve got to admit, even the sale prices add up, but at least we’re getting good solid furniture out of it, and I’m learning some new terms: console table, sleigh bed, etagere, hutch, etc.