This is not a picture of Ikea.

Everyone thinks that Dante said the lowest rung in hell is reserved for the neutrals. Actually, he said something much subtler than that. But we will continue with this idea. I am trying to figure out why Ikea is so awful, both going to, being there, and going from. I am trying to blame it on its Swedishness, and therefore its neutrality, but my theory doesn't quite work. I tried to blame it on the Swedes' propensity for suicide, but Kazakhstan and Belarus each has an incidence that's more than double the Swedish rate, but they at least had the sense (or lack of resources) not to go and spread their disassembled wares upon the globe.

Earlier this summer we made the mistake of going to Ikea. We went only because we were trying to find some cabinets to match the ones in the kitchen of the new house. The sellers of the house had committed the original sin of ordering from Ikea. On a Saturday we agreed to go on a Tuesday night, but then on Sunday L was gung-ho to make the trek. That in itself put me in a bad mood, but I was trying to be easy to get along with for a change, so I assented. After all, L insisted, there would be much less traffic on a Sunday afternoon.

He was wrong. Of course. There was mucho mucho traffic and in-car I-told-you-so tension all the way there. And inside there was just the Ikea maze. It's like the Guggenheim Museum, you go around and around, except there are beds and bedclothes and sofas and chairs and cabinets and tables instead of major works of art, and there are detailed confusing forms to fill out, like they used to give you at sushi restaurants--just like that, if the restaurants served you separate clumps of rice and fish and little eggs and pickled vegetables and nori (seaweed) with some confusing instructions in small type about how to assemble your sushi.

We found out that planned obsolescence had done in the cabinets so our trip was for naught. I made L promise that he would never ever ever make me go there again.

Yesterday we rode our bikes to Affordable Portables, which is very small and cramped but very friendly and relaxed and all on one floor. No elevators. No big parking lot. No Swedish meatballs. Lots of glass jars of candy (Tootsie Rolls, Laffy Taffy, Reeses, and more). We chose a sofa that's incidentally a futon, meaning that we found a Mission-style frame that we liked for itself, and decided on a mattress that was comfortable for sitting on, and we chose a cover, plus we got a holder for our stereo (audio center, people call it). Then we went to Cost Plus World Market and I goaded L into deciding to get a bench with three storage baskets underneath it, and a decorative trunk that we'll use to decoratively hold blankets under a window in our bedroom. We'd looked at the mud bench (it's called) and the trunk before. I am fast fast fast on big decisions (house and furniture) and slow slow slow on small decisions. I think that's true. We also need to get some more bookshelves so we can put up our encyclopedias. I also want to hang our pictures. L wants to wait. To see if we'll find furniture we like better, to see where we want the pictures to be. To mull over. I am a faster shopper. I want to do it now.

Then I mull it over afterward, after the damage has been done.

Or I feel relieved that decisions were good ones. Now I like our house and our furniture and L.


Anonymous said...

The problem with IKEA is that it’s a four-letter word (should that be hyphenated? I’m not sure. It seems to feel better that way, and I’m not anxious, right now, to look it up in either the CMS, or Strunk and White, so I guess I’ll leave it. It’s surprising how something that small can make the mind wander). Anyway, IKEA, it is only one letter away from IDEA (kind of like Iran and Iraq, except it’s at the end instead of the middle. I wonder if we’d have invaded if they had been called INRA and IQRA? Maybe the NRA would just have adopted the country – new shooting range perhaps). Sorry, back to IKEA. I’ve always believed that most people who pulls into that gigantic parking lot that surrounds the blue monster IKEA had no IDEA what they really wanted when they started their journey, or perhaps have been instantly struck non compos mentis by the sheer size of the place – and the sun reflecting off all that blue paint. In that confused state they slowly flow inside through those constantly turning doors and wander, lost and hungry, along stairs and ramps bumping into unexpected and unneeded treasures until, low-and-behold (those hyphens again. Perhaps it’s an addiction) hours later they unexpectedly find themselves waiting in a room decorated with brown and white pictures of an idyllic past in a foreign country for their number to be called to be given a box containing thousands of parts to some wonderful present that Uncle Santa Clausfenn has given them, a present that they will eventually have to load into their car (or more probably load onto their car – another of those four letter word pairs with a one letter difference) and attempt to assemble once they have returned to their “humble abode” economically depressed, emotionally uplifted, and baffled – wondering what happened to them, and where this bolt in their hand was really supposed to go.


Cancer Bitch said...

I thought that most people have something they want at IKEA, but they forget it as soon as they enter because there's magic forgetting drops that are dispersed through the indoor atomosphere of the store. That accounts for the daze and the grab. I just bought some shelves today from Staples, another chain, but it's only a mile from home.
Hope you are doing OK.
-C. Bitch

Anonymous said...

I began to hear IKEA rumors 20 years ago when a woman told me Seattle was vastly superior to Dallas because at least there was an IKEA store in Seattle. Since then, I'm very proud to say, I've never been in one of their stores, ever -- and am not comforted by the thought that I now live in a vastly superior city with an IKEA. It's somewhere up north of Austin and I don't plan to find out where.

Anonymous said...

Doing fine right now. Surgery 10/20/2008 so I'll probably start getting a lot more nervous as the day approaches.

Right now I'm assuming the urologist knew what he was talking about when he said the cancer was probably isolated/localized. Can't learn any more without that little trip inside on the twentieth.

Now if I could just get this thesis finished!!!


Anonymous said...

After many dazed and overwhelmed trips to Ikea, when I was overcome with Ikeanxiety, I finally bought a Besta cabinet for our embryonic playroom/family room/office. I paid big bucks to have them deliver it and hire a guy build it. It was worth it to have them do that. Really, though, a year or more of slack-jawed trips and confused perusals of catalogs before I finally had enough synapses connect that I could figure out I wanted to buy a relatively simple -- and stylish -- cabinet with shelves?

OK, shameless blog self-referral:

Anonymous said...

am i the only one who loves ikea? or the only one who has luck with it. u got unlucky. the company makes billions of dollars in revenue obviously everything has flaws in it, i think every one is just being unreasonable =[



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