Thursday, April 06, 2006

In which I am taken aback

It is time for J and me to select lighting fixtures, so the other day we went to a local lighting showroom. We were the only customers, and if first it seemed like we were about to have the typical customer/clerk exchange: He asked if he could help us; we said we were in need of lighting. “Have you ever purchased a light fixture before?” the man demanded. His tone was pugnacious: Don't you dare think you can come around here and shop unless you've passed “Wall-Mounted Illumination 270”. We gaped at him.

“Yes, we've bought light fixtures before,” I said, a tad defensively, flashing back to the 8th grade playground. (Yes, I've kissed a boy before. Duh.)

“Because this isn't Lowe's!” the man said. “You can't just come in here and walk out with a light fixture!”

Whoa, Nellie! Who said anything about walking out with a light fixture? And I'd left my “I BUY LIGHTING AT LOWE'S” t-shirt at home in my drawer.

We managed to make the light store guardian understand that we just wanted to look, that we understood the concept of ordering lighting and waiting for it to arrive, that we had no immediate need for light fixtures, and so he directed us to a towering pile of catalogs. That semi-hostile exchange dampened my enthusiasm considerably and we flipped listlessly through the catalogs: page after page of hideous hotel-lobby-builder's-showcase-home-show lighting. Their ornate metal curlicues hooked themselves into my very soul, dragging it down into the dust. It was unthinkable that I should put one of those vulgar fixtures in my sweet little farmhouse.

When we got home from this ordeal, I lay on my bed reading and I noticed my bedroom light fixture, as if for the first time. I'd always considered it ugly, but suddenly it seemed sweetly simple: the glass shade, knocked askew by too many children jumping on the bed was charming. The pull string? How gloriously inconvenient! You have to grope your way through the dark bedroom, and climb onto the bed to get to the string. Not that it matters: the light doesn't even work; has never worked.

We will probably end up buying our light fixtures from Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware. Call me bourgeois, but at least I can call Pottery Barn and not be challenged to provide my light-fixture buying credentials.

After we left the lighting store, we realized that J had neglected to remove the paint-splattered tool belt he'd been wearing while doing demo on our house and that it was this and his somewhat work-roughened appearance that probably prompted the lighting man to challenge us. It's his loss. We have money to spend, and we'll be spending it elsewhere.

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