Monday, April 03, 2006

Will You Marry Me, Again?

There are days when I can identify with Elizabeth Taylor, not so much in her preference for caftans and over-teased hair, but what woman wouldn’t want to get married eight times. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not looking to trade in my guy for a newer model.

But I would like another wedding.

Surely I’m not the only woman who’s contemplated stripping off her wedding band and waltzing into a bridal shop brandishing her engagement ring. Proprietors could make a mint off this untapped market—charge us “matrons” an entrance fee and let us roll around in the taffeta, tulle and tiaras.

My first go-round was successful in many respects. Take the wedding cake, for example, a rolled fondant confection featuring four glorious layers: Banana Walnut, Lemon Raspberry, Chocolate Sabayonne, Raspberry Chambord. But other details are in dire need of a do-over. I lay awake nights ruing my hair and makeup choices (gold lipstick, what was I thinking?!) and lack of control over our deejay. If a person requests a sprightly ditty by The Jackson 5, “Beat It” is never an appropriate substitute. Try dancing to this tune at home. It can not be done.

I would also like to register for another round of presents. I am married to Dave as long as we both shall live, but a bread machine. Puh-lease. So 1997.

I find it one of life’s curiosities that we are bound for all eternity to objects selected under duress at a specific point in time. Do we go to our graves wearing the same shoes, carrying the same handbag, sporting the same hairstyle as the year in which we married? Not unless we’re Miss Havisham or Queen Elizabeth. So why only one crack at picking a china pattern?

Personally, I was not equal to the task. In fact, I’ll go so far as to admit that I choked.

I stood on the seventh, or possibly the ninth floor of Marshall Field’s behemoth State Street store, which boasts more than 600 dinnerware patterns. I stared at the Wall of Wedgewood and the rest of the porcelain gods. I tried to envision presiding over an occasion that might require a gravy boat.

The gravy boat, I believe, is what separates your Fine China people from your Everyday Ware people. I grew up eating off plates purchased at the supermarket by my great aunt through some sort of coupon book program. I guess that makes me Everyday.

I looked at my registry and left the space next to “place settings” blank. I couldn’t find a pattern deserving of a lifelong commitment, so we made do with Dave’s dowry, a set of stoneware from Pier 1. I didn’t want to rush this decision, my sister’s reviled Pfaltzgraff serving as a Lesson Learned.

Nine years later, the Pier 1 is long gone and I’m trying to extricate myself from a disastrous affair with jadeite. For the uninitiated, jadeite is the milky, key-lime-pie green earthenware that makes for a picturesque accessory when set behind glass-fronted cabinets, but chips like mad when run through the dishwasher. We’ve replaced an entire set of cereal bowls and currently are unable to field an entire team of mugs.

Were I to see it in a shop window today, I would pass the jadeite by. It was purchased during a retro phase—I could just as easily be talking about Fiestaware—when my true taste has steadily evolved toward modern classic.

So, given a second (or in the case of Ms. Taylor, a ninth) chance to get things right, what would I do today, standing in the upper reaches of Marshall Field’s, facing that same Wall of Wedgewood?

I would march myself over to Crate & Barrel. There I would register for eight five-piece place settings of Century Classic. I know it’s “the one” the way I knew Dave was “The One.” The pattern, originally designed in 1952 by Eva Zeisel, was re-introduced in 2005 and features rounded curves and quirky teardrop serving pieces. I might even ask for the gravy boat.

Now I just need Dave to jump on board the whole divorce/remarriage thing and we’re set.


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