Yesterday I planned a series of surprises for Brandon's birthday. The surprises culminated in me showing up at his office just as he was leaving for a long, very hot ride on the metro with all of his required 'buddies' from work. Brandon was at first confused, and then happy to see me, and even happier to take an air-conditioned taxi down to Maadi with me, his preferred buddy.
I had left the children with Rere, so we had the rest of the evening to ourselves. I knew that dinner would only take so long, so I suggested visiting the rug shop that was never open when we went out for my birthday in January. It was open this time, and a hand-made silk rug caught our eye as we walked in the door. We looked at quite a few other rugs, but the first was our favorite. When it came time to ask the price, it was no surprise that our favorite was also the most expensive.
Neither of us have any reasonable experience bargaining, never having haggled for anything worth over eighty dollars, and this rug was a great deal more than eighty dollars. We looked at each other, realized that we were in over our heads and thanked the kind man and went to dinner.
Over coconut juice, spring rolls, and pad thai, we discussed our options. I was surprised to find out that Brandon, as his attachment to material goods is almost nonexistent, quite seriously wanted that rug, and only that rug, regardless of the cost. So we discussed prices, the theory of bargaining, and our bargaining strategy, eventually deciding on a price that we could live with but wouldn't go above.
When we walked back into the shop, the owner pulled out the rugs we had previously narrowed down our choices to. I became insistent that I wanted the rug, and Brandon stubbornly refused, reminding me repeatedly that it was much more than we could afford to spend. He asked to see other, less expensive rugs, and I pointed out that my rug was obviously the most beautiful of all of them while Brandon claimed that they were all rugs to him. By this time, the men had gathered around, and were telling Brandon that he had better listen to his wife because she knew what she was talking about and she was the one who would have it in her house. The ante only went up when Brandon slipped that it was my birthday.
After enough acting, the shopkeeper agreed to lower the price, and left us to argue about getting another, cheaper rug while I insisted that I only wanted that rug. When we stood up to leave, the man was back again, asking us why we were leaving. When Brandon told him that we just didn't have the budget, he asked what our budget was and came down again. After some more pleading, we counter-offered, and then he counter-offered the price Brandon and I had agreed on over dinner. Not one to give up a game so easily, Brandon grumbled for another five minutes before finally giving in for 'my birthday.'
The owner happily wrapped up our rug, pleased to have sold the rug for such a good price, and I happily handed over the credit card, pleased to have gotten it for such a good price. Brandon and I both left happily, pleased to have worked out our play-acting exactly how we had planned, the warm glow of our first successful bargain in our hearts.
When the girls saw it this morning, they oohed and ahhed over how beautiful it was, and Sophia announced that it was just like a magic carpet. And we all got on and went for a ride.