December 3, 2013

The "Pottery Barn Rule"

We live in a house that was built in 1790. To say that it gets chilly here on a cold wintery night is to put it mildly.  The outdoors comes indoors as the cold air seeps in and puts, what feels like, a 45-degree chill in our bedroom.

The other night while reading, I was too cold to get out of bed to turn off the lights.  My husband, who was already nestled in, told me that the last person to put their feet on the floor was the one who had to turn off the lights.

"Don't you know the 'Pottery Barn Rule'?" he asked.

"That's adorable," I said.  I imagined (and believe me it was my imagination running wild to think that) he had been shopping for gifts for me at one of my favorite home furnishings stores. 

Is there really a rule to shopping at Pottery Barn?  How do I not know this ... and does the rule apply to shopping on-line, too? Or was this just a seasonal term that had been coined by P.B., almost like Pringles is cornering the market with their limited-time only Pecan Pie Pringles and White Chocolate Mint Flavor Pringles. (The latter of which is supposed to taste like toothpaste on potato chips.)

"Is the 'Pottery Barn Rule' some quirky metaphor you're throwing around to get me to shut off the lights?" I asked. Admittedly, I was still in the dark on this one.

My beloved of 27-years went into the explanation.

In the summer of 2002, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was quoted in "Plan of Attack" as cautioning President George Bush before the war that he would "own" Iraq and all its problems, after military victory. Privately, Powell and Armitage (the deputy secretary of state) called this the "Pottery Barn Rule": You break it, you own it.

I was beginning to the see the light. 

"You're the last one up, thus ..." husband said.

The "Pottery Barn Rule".

[Just so you know, in reality, Pottery Barn doesn't have a "you break it, you bought it" policy. Like most large American retailers, they write off broken merchandise as a loss.]

It was too late to talk politics and quibble about foreign policy and its application in my bedroom. I smiled at my husband, put down my book, got up from under the fluffy down comforter and turned out the lights.

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