A piece in today's Times echoes what I've heard from every single married or about-to-be-married individual on earth:
"I would much rather get one $10 utensil from my registry than a $200 Waterford crystal bowl I will never, ever use," said one future bridegroom, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of offending his friends and family. "I used to give creative gifts, but now I realize that going off the registry is usually just irritating."
I hear this, and I say "Amen." Recently, however, a friend of mine referred to his own wedding registry, of whose importance he had to be convinced by a battalion of wedding vets, as a "shakedown," which, of course, it is. But not registering only assures that you will be left with a motley assortment of crappy gifts rather than stuff you actually want and/or need. I'd rather be shaken down for a butter plate than have to divine whether or not you have an OXO potato peeler or not.
Before we go any further, no discussion of gift registries would be complete without a mention of this. Say what I will about the show, that episode was brilliant.
Now, for the Universal Gift Registry (TM). This is my idea, so be sure to give me credit and a cut of the profits if you get to this before I do. Here it is: Since we're all clear that registries are as subtle a ploy for gifts as a letter to Santa, I say we embrace that. The Universal Registry (we need to give it a classy name that evokes sophistication rather than gift-grubbing...I like "Filigree"--suggests weddings, good breeding, etc.). Okay so Filigree is totally Web-based and through it engaged people (or just people who need/want stuff, like me) can register for ANYTHING.
You can register for the usual kitchen and home products through Williams-Sonoma and Tiffany, but you can also register for, say, clothes. Or to pay off a debt, like to student loans, or to a friend you borrowed money from, or a heroin deal. You can register for dermatologist copayments for a year, or you can register to give money to charity or to pay off library fines or to anonymously endow a pavillion at a research hospital. Basically, our motto at Filigree is "If It Can Be Paid For, It Can Be Registered For." That motto would be written in some very fancy script, and Filigree's logo should obviously look as if it were engraved in 24K gold leaf.
The back end of Filigree would take some doing. Every store would need to be hooked up to some massive payment service, a la Paypal. If the eventual recipient of the cash were a bookie or police station for someone's bail, maybe the cash could go into the Filigree account and we on the business side of things could write checks or dispense cash if the registry item did not accept personal checks (see: heroin dealer). I think this could be worked out. This way everyone gets exactly what they need and want or owe.
I think everyone should have a running Filigree registry, regardless of occasion, the way they have Amazon Wish Lists. I personally would register for the Sallie Mae Special, maybe a couple Fresh Direct deliveries and probably that mixer, because everyone gets that mixer.
Who's with me?
PS That's the Waterford "Wise Owl" up there--the gift you're definitely going to get if you don't register.
PPS How timely a day to discuss wedding registries. No matter what crackheaded constitutional amendments anyone tries to pass, every human being will always be welcome to register at Filigree. And to send me gifts.