It was bound to come to this. The high-end kitchen store had fulfilled many of my needs for a very long time, but there were certain areas where it fell short: casual entertaining items, reasonable prices, plastic things. I swear I looked and looked at the high-end kitchen store while I was planning my party, even checking the back stock-room for stray shipments that might have been ignored, but no.
Everything was too fancy and too expensive (even with my discount).
It was lunchtime. I breezed on out of the store like I always did, calling out to The Boss, “See you in a while!”, but I was not going to Starbucks to grab a fruit and cheese plate this time; I was going to The Other Kitchen Place.
I zipped down to the opposite end of the mall, near Macy’s. There was a girl standing right in front of The Other Kitchen Place giving away free samples of butter pecan ice-cream. We had an ice-cream maker at the high-end kitchen store, why did we never make fresh ice-cream to sample?
“Hello!” chirped the cheery ice-cream girl in the bright orange apron, “Would you like some delicious homemade butter pecan ice-cream?”
I looked around nervously. I could almost feel The Boss watching me through her binoculars from waaaaaaaay down at the other end of the mall.
“Okay,” I murmured, “that would be nice.” It was fantastic. I took two more samples to make sure.
Once inside, I noticed the same products we sold, like Le Creuset, but in different colors, like magenta and robin’s egg blue. I saw a variety of cute things I’d never seen and didn’t know existed, but that I immediately needed and wanted. How had I lived this long without a lobster-shaped napkin holder?
I approached the counter.
“Miss?” I began, “Can you please tell me where the tablecloths are located?”
“Yes,” said the helpful girl, “they’re right over here.”
She took me to a stack of cute red and white checkered tablecloths that were marked $7.99 each.
“No, no, I’m sorry,” I said, “I need real fabric, not plastic-coated.”
“These are fabric,” said the girl, “in fact, they’re linen. From Ireland.”
“LINEN?” my eyes fell out of my head at the thought of beautiful linen costing only $7.99. “And that’s really the price?”
“Oops, no, I’m so sorry, ma’am, they’re mismarked. They’re on sale now, so they’re actually, $2.99 each.”
I didn’t hesitate. These tablecloths would have cost $100 a pop at my store.
“I’ll take all you have.” I walked out with six tablecloths and a superior attitude.
As I approached my store, I began to feel self-conscious about the giant orange bag I was carrying from The Other Kitchen Place. I tried my best to hold it behind me, hidden by my green and black butterfly-print skirt.
But it was no use. The second I walked into the store, The Boss’s magical radar powers went off. She stopped doing important computer-ish things and looked right at me.
“WHAT’S THAT?!?” she bellowed for the all the employees and even some employees five stores down to hear. “What is that orange bag?”
She knew damn well what it was. The tell-tale orange was retina-burning.
“Uh, well, uh,” I stammered, like a husband who’d been caught with multiple inexplicable text messages on his iPhone, “It’s nothing.”
I scurried past her, when I felt her hand at my elbow.
“MOV, you didn’t?” her expression said, Maybe it’s all a big mistake, maybe it is not YOUR cell phone with all those midnight texts, maybe it’s not really your orange bag.
“Boss. I’m sorry.” I had to come clean. “You know that I would never dream of going somewhere else, but my needs were just not being met …”
“Did you really go to The Other Kitchen Place? What could they possibly give you that we can’t? You've been here almost four years now; doesn’t that mean anything to you?” She paused to compose herself. “You know you don’t get a discount there.” Her face was a cocktail of scowl and contempt with a dash of bewilderment thrown in.
“I’m sorry,” I gulped, trying to move past her without knocking her over with my giant orange bag, “The Other Kitchen Place understands me better.”
I could feel my face flushing a deep cranberry, possibly matching the lovely checks on the new linen tablecloths.
I went back to the office to put my bag away. She met me at the door.
“I’m serious,” she said, “Show me what’s in the bag.” Her arms were across her chest, obscuring her not-orange apron.
“Okay, you win. Here.” I held out the bag.
She looked in and her eyes grew wide as glass nesting bowls, set of ten, made in Poland.
“MOV,” she whispered, “Do you mean to tell me these are real linen and only cost $2.99 a piece?”
I hung my head low, nodding. “Yes,” I said finally.
She let out a little squeak noise, a cross between desperation and disbelief, “Do they have any left?”