I should’ve waited to go back to Potted until Mercury came out of retrograde.
But who really believes in that stuff, right? Never imagining that such a thing could have an effect on something as banal as a merchandise exchange, I went back this afternoon to trade my Mad Mats rug in for a product that would actually work at our house. I had to bring MJ, as Mike was busy with the garage project. But that was fine. I reasoned that, with her in tow, it would be impossible for me to go into a shopping blackout. She would ensure I stayed present. Can’t very well go into a fugue state when your two-year-old is busy trying to break everything in the store, right?
That much turned out to be true. Having Myra-Jean there did expedite the process quite a bit. Instead of taking an hour to make a bad decision, I managed, this time, to do it in ten minutes.
Like before, I didn’t think I was making a mistake at the time. We left Potted with a door mat by Chilewick — very colorful, very festive — that I knew would look perfect on our front stoop. I supplemented this with a large teal pot and a fetching, unusual-looking succulent with red-edged leaves. I’d pot the plant, put it next to the new mat…in one fell swoop, I reasoned, I’d be correcting the whole déclassé thing that’s been going on at our front door forever now. Or at least since Tom the floor guy broke our expensive planter and we replaced it with a cheap plastic bucket and a dying snake plant. Now there would be colors! Matching colors! There would be teal! (I’ve always been impressed by that hue.) Plus an earthenware container, a rare succulent…we’d be classe, alright. Way classe.
We arrived home in triumph. I waved the Chilewick at Mike as I passed the garage, acknowledging his cry of “nice!” with a self-satisfied nod. As I strode in the direction of the front stoop I tore the mat’s tags off with a grandiose flourish. I would not be returning it. It would be sensational. Not to mention, those women at Potted hated me by now. I could not go back.
I tossed aside the unravelling, filthy, circa 1994 Target doormat that currently held the position of pride on our front stoop. Begone, lame hemp. Or jute. Or whatever you are.
And I tossed the Chilewick down.
It was immediately apparent that it was too small for the space. The ladies at Potted had tried to persuade me to get the bigger size and I had demurred. Isn’t fifty bucks enough, already, to spend on a doormat? I’m really going to drop eighty for a couple more square inches? I thought not. At the time. Now I realized I should have.
Oh, well. It was too small. We’d learn to accept that.
It was the jarring juxtaposition of the new mat with the old rug on the adjacent walkway that clinched it for me. I’d forgotten about that runner completely. Its color scheme, while lovely, is very specific. It is totally, absolutely different than the mat’s. And not in a good way. There is no room, in short, for them both out there.
Mike, hearing my curses, came over to help. “Try it outside of the utility room,” he suggested.
Outside the back door? Who was going to see it there? The exterminator? I groaned.
Mike took the mat from me and walked away. I followed. When we got to the laundry room he tossed it outside of the back door. Still too small. A minnow in a sea of concrete. Drowned.
Mike picked it up and placed it inside the door. Where our shoes go. It was better. It was as good as it was going to get. I tossed my hands up and walked away.
“What? It looks cute,” he said, encouragingly. “It adds some brightness in here.”
I spun back. “You think? Fifty bucks worth?”
He shot me a look of surprise. “Really?”
I stared at my feet.
“Can’t you just return it?”
“I tore the tags off,” I muttered.
Mike knew better than to ask why.
“Well, it’s a nice addition,” he said consolingly.
Nice indeed. It’ll cheer me up every time I go in there to empty the lint filter. Or drag out a leaking trash bag. Or throw another wrinkly shirt on the ironing board. Take heart! Domestic work is drudgery, but at least the doorstep is having fun!
I am never asking for a gift certificate again. It turns out other people should pick my gifts for me. On my own, I am utterly useless in a retail situation.
At least when Mercury is in retrograde. I’ll have to consult an astrologer before I go shopping next time.