If single people were traitors being held at Guantanamo, effective torture devices would either be excessive screenings of Love Actually or forcing us to walk through Williams-Sonoma during the holiday season.
"I'll tell you anything you want to know, just please get me away from the wedding registry and the CuisineArt food processor that serves eight! "
During a shopping spree last week where I was continually asked if I needed things gift wrapped - "No thank you, it's just for me" - and received sad faces in return, I made the mistake of venturing into a Williams-Sonoma in Beverly Hills.
Inspired by familiar Christmas tunes and the aroma of fresh gingerbread, I grabbed a basket and began perusing a tower of assorted hot chocolates. The options were endless as I picked up the salted caramel flavor first, then exchanged it for peppermint and finally settled on 'traditional.' I prudently placed my first item in the basket, moving it to one side, with the intention of making room for all my other purchases. The adjacent display of marshmallows suggested it was sacrilege to make hot cocoa without its necessary accoutrement! I was drawn to the strawberry package and was about to hastily add it to my basket until I saw the calories, had a moment of reflection, and put it back on the shelf. I looked around the store for new excitement.
Personalized spatulas! I scanned the bucket looking for one with an 'A' on it. I didn't immediately find my letter so I began thinking of potential gifts I could give to friends as I picked up spatulas with the first letter of their names. I picked up one with a 'C' and thought, "Caroline would love this!" Oh, and an 'R'! My bachelor friend Rob would love this if he ever wants to bake cupcakes for his landlord once the restraining order expires. A sobering minute later, I realized there were no 'A' spatulas but my hope was restored when I saw a display of gold-monogrammed mugs. I spun the display around, searching for my 'A' with no luck. Was this a sign? Everyone named Ashley, Allison, Amanda, or Amy was already blissfully married and had wiped out the entire store of everything with my letter? A customer nudges me out of the way to pick up her spatula with a 'J.' She beamed, feeling special.
I noticed the EXIT sign illuminating in the distance and took a step in that direction. Oh! Distraction - an entire case of extra virgin olive oils and vinegars! I had been cooking with that $5.99, non-virginal, motor oil from Trader Joes for years. I was certain it was the reason that all of my cuisine came out subpar, which resulted in at least two ex boyfriends and a neighbor that came down with norovirus. Didn't I deserve the Tuscan trio holiday special with olive oil, truffle oil and balsamic vinegar? I turn over the price tag: $39.99! I stop for a moment to walk myself through the purchase. I envision coming home and placing my oil trio in the pantry next to the Centrum Vitamin C that is still unopened, then looking into my empty fridge and deciding to order delivery from Postmates. I pause a moment longer to cringe at the thought of that same delivery driver, Sarah, accepting my third order this week - an embarrassing frequency that caused me to lie and say I had the flu. I put down the olive oil trio and made my way to the back of the store.
I look into my basket and notice my lonely hot chocolate. There must be something else in here for me! A Vitamix, a Bundt cake pan, a fur throw for the sofa. I scan the store in a mild panic. Knives! Everyone needs knives. Single people use knives and I could justify their multi-functionality - a broccoli beheader and rapist defense weapon. The cheapest set is $500 and it's inside a locked cabinet, creating a traumatizing scenario for an impulse buyer. Patty, a sales assistant in a monogrammed apron, notices my dismay. "Can you help me with the knives?" I ask but I must have looked threatening since she scurried away to show a mother- daughter team a set of mixing bowls. I help myself to a peanut brittle sample and munch away while admiring the glass case of kitchen knives, looking like the horror movie version of Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Patty animatedly returns with her aggressive bowl cut, waving the 'P' spatula which makes me want to childishly rebel the way church services made me want to giggle uncontrollably or Algebra class made me want to pass notes to friends. I point to the chef's knife for $129.99 and ask, "Do you think this one is detectable by TSA?" Her head tilts to one side and her face contorts in a confused fashion the way a pug might look if you teased it about going for a walk. She ignores my joke and asks in a sweet voice, "So what are you going to be using this for?" I pondered an answer. "Well, I guess cutting vegetables for salads mostly, and possibly on overzealous parking enforcement officers." This is an unsatisfying answer for Patty. She nosily peers into my basket, sees the one can of hot chocolate and nods to herself. "You know we offer cooking classes here too." I pull my basket out of her view, feeling violated like a 13 year old who just caught her mother reading her diary entry. "Thanks, Patty but it's a bit out of my price range."
I returned to the hot chocolate tower and replaced my 'traditional' hot chocolate in defeat. I preferred the Ralphs brand anyway. As I maneuvered through moms with baby strollers toward the EXIT sign, I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirrored holiday wreath. Yes, I was single in a Williams Sonoma and I didn't need a blender for eight people but I chose to look on the bright side - my new haircut was a perfect match to my Bitmoji, a friend had just emailed me a Groupon for freezing our eggs and I was aging more gracefully than a Sade album. When I got back to my car I found a 20% off coupon for Bed Bath and Beyond, the home furnishing store for singles where I proudly purchased pocket mace, a fifth of bourbon and a cervical neck pillow for my eleventh screening of Love Actually.