Shopping for the Bride

Weddings — even at a distance — always make me cry.

So I was already tuning up when a friend and I showed up at Williams-Sonoma to shop for the recently wed daughter of a friend of ours.  We wandered around the displays, getting stopped every few steps to see if we could be helped.

Aside from the overly solicitous sales clerks, I love Williams-Sonoma.  It’s the kind of place that’s bright and gorgeous and filled with some kind of ridiculous (and, yes, expensive) magic the induces domestic dreams in the least worthy of us.  Which would be the likes of me.

For years, I’ve coasted with a husband who loves to cook.  He thinks it’s creative — and who am I to correct him about the matter?  I let him boss me around when I’m in the kitchen, except for his irritating habit of suggesting that any dish will be improved by adding cilantro.  Even a total culinary loser like me has to draw the line somewhere.  But aside from the cilantro, I’m happy to act as a sous-chef, cleaning up and almost totally subservient.  Hey, it beats cooking.

But forget all that when I timidly cross the Williams-Sonoma threshold.  There, I’m filled with the kind of hope and confidence that desert me in every other kitchen on earth.

Maybe I’d like to cook, too!  In fact, maybe I’d be really good at it — if I just had a billion-dollar skillet that sparkles silver as it hangs from the walls.  And the tablecloths and napkins and bright, festive plates!  The food processors and professional knives and espresso machines!  With equipment like that, maybe I, too, could just whip up a divine, creative little feast from the wilted remains in our refrigerator.  Yeah!

But I’m old enough and veterarn of enough total, humiliating culinary disasters that my Inner Chef dreams expire pretty quickly — several feet from the front door, in fact.  Buy me a $200 skillet and I’d still be pursuing my scorched-earth fumblings in our kitchen at home, still a fire extinguisher away from total, inedible disaster at the stove.  I know my place in the kitchen: I clean up — and I’m not even terribly good at that.

But today isn’t about me, anyway.  Today is about shopping for a new bride my friend and I both knew as a curly-headed, funny, endearing neighborhood kid.  We pick out one of those beautiful skillets and one of those serious-looking knives and some brightly colored measuring spoons and measuring cups and have them wrapped so they look pristine and professional.

In the past few years, I realize, I’ve gotten past shopping for kids’ birthday parties, moving on to high school, then college graduation presents.  But this is one of my first experiences shopping for wedding presents for someone I still think of as a kid.  It will be followed, I know, by many more expeditions for wedding, then baby, presents for another generation.  Funny to think how that cycle never stops, but just edges forward, whether you’re ready for it or not.

So, I send you my heartfelt best wishes, Skylerr.  I hope you have as much fun and as many great times in your marriage as I’ve had in mine.  As for your kitchen adventures, I hope you fare a lot better.  That shouldn’t be hard.

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