Scan Til You Drop
by Andrea Elovson
Whether you're on your first date or your fiftieth, there's a place you
can go to learn everything there is know about that special someone: the
bridal registry at Macy's.
The mere suggestion of visiting this department can supply you with all
the necessary information. If, for example, he or she laughs and gets as
far as the cosmetic counter, there's potential. A look of extreme panic
could suggest a crippling lack of spontaneity that could become an issue
And if you've managed to say yes in all the right places and find yourself
engaged ... how do you score that electric bagel slicer or those Ralph Lauren
Ask for them?
Shame on you.
Scan for them.
Here's how it works.
After fortifying ourselves with three cups of coffee, my future hubby
and I made our way to the gazebo-like registry department. There, we encountered
our first Bridal Consultant. We gave her our vitals (name, wedding date,
shipping address); she whipped out a nifty device resembling a large calculator
on a stick. The scanner. Simply press a button and a red laser reads
the bar code of the desired item. A non-judgmental beep assures you that
the platinum cake server has been securely tucked away in the scanner's
That's it! There are no limits beyond your conscience and your ability
to go without food and water. Strangely, there's no maximum to the number
of gifts you can have on your list, but there is a minimum (four). Three
doesn't cut it, no matter how expensive they are.
My guy had "our" scanner tucked in his holster before I could
say "Breadman-Ultra." Like a hyper Han Solo, he began firing his
ray gun at every sheet set, gravy boat and espresso maker he could find
. When it's that easy, you will wonder how you ever got by without the tobacco
leaf frame, the chain link napkin rings or that porcelain statuette of two
kids on a swing.
And for once, price is no object. As liberating as it might seem, it
took me a while to adjust to the concept of scanning/spending other people's
money. Growing up with a mother of the Depression, my body initially rejected
anything that wasn't on sale. Luckily, this passed and I was able to re-channel
my nervous energy into locating the elusive bar codes. Scan it, punch in
the quantity, and Voila! A set of pots and pans whose price (rather than
size) could feed a medium-sized village.
Seven hundred dollar cookware aside, it's a good idea to have a range
of differently priced items on your registry. No need to make your actor
friend feel worse then he already does because he can't afford to buy you
But remember this isn't just about collecting things; it's about gathering
crucial information about the one you're with: a reconnaissance mission
cloaked in soft lighting and a muzac.
Let's begin with your honey's initial reaction to spending a sunny afternoon
in a department store. Does he or she stand frozen at the revolving doors?
Could hint at an irrational fear of commitment. (Or, to be fair, of crowds.)
If s/he grabs your hand and part the sea of frenzied shoppers like a modern
Moses, you can safely assume s/he is dedicated to you and your future houseware.
Nothing less than his/her grasp on reality can be determined by your
partner's will: finish the registry in one day, or divide it up over a few
visits? A deep-seated need to scan for twelve straight hours hints at a
destructive sense of grandiosity (or, well, greed).
Similarly, what s/he selects can serve as a one-way mirror into his/her
soul. If your Significant Scanner has no qualms about $250 bath towels or
signature sports mugs, you might want to re-examine your relationship. The
use of the words "want" and "need" -- not interchangeable
-- should also be duly noted.
Not to say there isn't room for compromise. Take, for example, the flatware:
I loved; he hated. Where I saw the knife as rivaling Rodin, he thought it
threatened his manhood. But after a few cleansing breaths, he finally agreed
to scan it in because he could see how much I wanted (never said "needed")
it. An hour later, I didn't have a leg to stand on when he insisted on a
three hundred-dollar salt and pepper set shaped like the Oscar award.
But let's assume that you share the same aesthetic sensibilities--that
your individual choices make up the Ying and Yang of the perfect registry.
Another crucial component of a good mate is his/her ability to be vulnerable
and to shrug off socially imposed sex roles. For example, if you notice
a man getting genuinely excited about choosing the perfect china, it's likely
he will teach his sons the importance of embracing their feminine side.
Likewise, if your future Missus can't stop talking about that 52" television
with picture in picture, you can bet your bottom dollar your girls will
be down in the dirt with the best of them.
After four hours, we trudged back to the Gazebo exhausted, but with a
newfound respect for compulsive shoppers and interior designers. After assuring
our Bridal Consultant that we had the time of our lives, we handed her our
piping hot scanner. She hooked it up to her printer and handed us a hard
copy of or registry.
A final hint: Pry open your eyes long enough to notice what happens once
you're given a copy of your list. Is it quickly folded into fours and shoved
into his or her back pocket? Does your yum yum hand it to you and head for
the door? If s/he is worth spending the rest of your life with (or even
the remainder of the afternoon) the answer is a resounding "no."
His;/her love for you should propel him/her through a thorough proofreading
of the list. Like super-heroes s/he should break through the mist to recheck
colors and quantities and to help the consultant manually input the dozen
or so items that had unreadable barcodes.
So: how'd my man fare? Let's put it this way. He spent upwards of forty-five
minutes looking for the perfect eyelet sheets that I have always wanted
(not "needed"). And he held my hand on the way out.
(The bridal registry department at Macy's
East in Herald Square, NYC (212-494-3800) is open Mon.-Sat. 11-8:30 and
Sunday 11-7. Most (but not all) locations have bridal registries. Call the
store nearest you for hours and appointments.)
Andrea Elovson is a documentary filmmaker with a thing for white
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