Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Unwinding with a Catalogue

It's Monday night.

After a half dozen escape attempts, your toddler is finally sleeping soundly (albeit upside-down) in her bed. Your seven-week-old has just nodded off in her swing.  You've survived another day that included a tantrum in the cracker aisle at the supermarket, sore arms from rocking a fussy baby for four continuous hours, and a leaky pipe that required your plumber to take a sledge-hammer to the living room wall you recently spent thousands of dollars to paint.  And despite all that, you were still able to prepare a nutritious dinner for your family, even if the salmon was a tad charred and the quinoa a bit soggy.  You kick up your feet eager to indulge in the treat that arrived in the mail this afternoon: The Williams-Sonoma catalogue.

Pictured on the cover is the latest iteration of the iconic Kitchen-Aid mixer.  Like a Louis Vuitton bag it is something you must own eventually, even if you don't bake and wouldn't know the first thing to do with a dough hook.  The mixer comes in French blue and looks good on a counter; that's really all that matters.

On page 11 there is a suggested menu for a wine-tasting party.  You turn to your husband.  "We should host a wine-tasting party," you say.  "Sounds expensive," he replies.

Page 35 features several font options from which to choose for sets of monogrammed linen napkins.  You wish you had the disposable income for monogrammed linen napkins.  For now, it's paper napkins bought in bulk from BJ's for you.

On page 48 a picture-perfect stack of skull-shaped pancakes dressed in maple syrup and walnuts seems to mock you.  You do not have room in your ugly blue kitchen to store skull-shaped pancake molds and, therefore, will almost certainly never make skull-shaped pancakes for your children on Halloween morning.  You're starting to feel pretty crumby about that.

Before long you are accelerating down the self-deprecating spiral.  Two smiling girls on the following page are eating homemade organic whole wheat waffles off immaculate white plates resting on a reclaimed-wood kitchen table that also contains bowls of plump mixed berries, sliced apples, and a vase of fresh-cut flowers.  Breakfast at your house is cereal eaten out of (BPA-free) plastic bowls off an Ikea table that also contains a weeks' worth of mail and last weekend's New York Times.  On page 55 a child using a citrus press to make a single glass of orange juice makes you feel guilty for not serving fresh-squeezed juice to your children, even though you don't allow your children to drink juice because of the sugar content.  The gleaming espresso machines on pages 64-67 make you wish you knew how to make your own lattes, instead of spending $50 a month (according to your last credit card statement) at Starbucks.  Perhaps this is why you can't afford sets of monogrammed linen napkins.

Because of the braised ribs simmering in a slow-cooker pictured on page 70, you experience pangs of remorse that, due to its inconvenient location at the back of the cabinet above the refrigerator, you've hardly used the Crock-Pot you registered for when you got married.  The pictures of autumn wreathes on pages 98-99 remind you that fall is coming and you should probably think about how you're going to decorate the house, because you can already tell that this is the type of neighborhood where neighbors compete to have the best-looking seasonal house on the block.  The picture of the Miele rotary iron on page 104 reminds you that you should probably iron the stack of khakis in the laundry room so that your husband has more than one pair to choose from this Labor Day weekend.

And you're spent.  You decide to leave the Pottery Barn catalogue, waiting on the coffee table, for another night.

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