At about this time last year, I wrote a piece about The Container Store. Some might describe it as a “rant,” but those are probably the same people who believe shelving systems are a force for good and not the work of an organizational terrorist.
I have not returned to The Container Store since I wrote that post, and I’d nearly forgotten the whole episode until today, when I went to Michael’s, a place that makes The Container Store look like Key West.
For those who’ve never been there, Michael’s is a craft store. And in case it doesn’t go without saying, I am not craft people. In fact, you will not hear me utter the word “craft” unless it is followed by “beer.” (Which, tragically, they do not sell at Michael’s, in case you’re wondering. You can buy a jungle’s worth of fake greenery there, but forget trying to find a fermented hop in the joint.)
Best I can tell based on very limited experience, Michael’s is frequented by people who own glue guns and are responsible for the fact that scrapbook, which once existed only as a noun, is now a verb. Everyone knows verbs are action verbs, and I have never once viewed as a scrapbook as an item that inspires or requires activity. In fact, for me, a scrapbook is like a Bowflex: something you buy at a moment when you’ve come so completely untethered from reality that you actually believe you’ll use it. The truth is that after you buy it, it’ll sit in a corner, ignored and gathering dust until you feel guilty enough to donate it to charity.
Where was I, anyway? Oh right, Michael’s. I was there this morning at 11 a.m., and believe me, I was not happy about it. The unadorned walls beside my fireplace were to blame. I’ve been in my house for three years and the walls have been blank that whole time. I might not have cared, but I’m about to host some work people for dinner, and I thought maybe I should try to make the place look occupied, perhaps .by taking a few of my family photos and figuring out a way to display them tastefully. I tried to solve this problem on line first–my desire to make my home look inhabited yielded to my reluctance to leave the house –but I wound up in a Pinterest/Amazon death spiral that I could exit only by exploring my frame and display options in person.
So I decided to squeeze in a Michael’s visit before I met a friend for brunch. On your average Saturday morning at Michael’s, you’ll get a contact high from eucalyptus fumes. Because I visited Michael’s on a Sunday after Halloween, the eucalyptus fumes had been overwhelmed by a suffocating scent that suggested mulling spices. Awash in unfamiliar craft items, the only mulling I was doing involved formulating an exit strategy. If I’d been in The Container Store, at least I might have been paid a visit by Elfa, the Queen of Shelving Systems.
I lasted exactly 14 minutes at Michael’s before I realized I was no match for glue guns and the people who know how to use them.
Edward Steichen, an American photographer, once said “[a] blank wall is an appalling thing to look at.” Maybe so, but I bet he’d never been to Michael’s.