Monday, October 24, 2005

It's A Swedish Thing

This weekend I built a bookcase.

More specifically, my fabulous sister-in-law and I assembled a bookcase purchased from a Swedish furniture wonderland.
IKEA is its name, and assemble-it-at-your-own-peril furniture is its game.

Our bookcase's formal name is EKTORP. We prefer to call it STANLEY.

Last night, as I stood admiring our handiwork by the glow of the Ikea candle (VARDAG) resting atop my Ikea coffee table (LAGFORS), I thought back to the beginnings of my relationship with Ikea.

This is our story.

One wintry New York day I was bemoaning to a friend the fact that after four months in the city I was still using an open suitcase as my primary mode of clothing storage.

"Oooo, we have GOT to go to Ikea!" she exclaimed with feverish intensity.

I could tell that Ikea meant something special to her. And I wanted to find out why.

There was only one problem.

New York's Ikea wasn't actually in New York. It was in New Jersey, which was, conveniently, 20 miles away. But Ikea wasn't going to let a little thing like distance keep us apart. It knew how much I wanted to meet it, and it wanted to meet me, too. And so I was informed that every Saturday, furniture-seekers such as myself could line up at Grand Central Station and pay $10.00 to board the bus Ikea had chartered: a bus bound specifically for that great and spacious warehouse in the Bronx. That very weekend, perched upon my seat and watching the scenery go by, I felt a sense of excitement, of adventure! The journey reminded me of a grade school field trip. Except that there were a lot of gay couples, and I hadn't brought a sack lunch.

Once there, my friends and I gleefully wandered the furniture and accessory maze, availing ourselves of 50 cent hot dogs, dollar frozen yogurts, and large bags of votive candles. All was right with the world, and it seemed Ikea had enough love to go around. Hours later, stomachs and shopping bags full, we boarded the bus home, basking in the glow of the superstore's fading lights.

Once we arrived at the bus station, however, we soon realized that the honeymoon was over. I mean, Ikea was happy we came to visit and everything, and it was fun to hang out and all, but when it came right down to it, Ikea really didn't care how we got our newly-purchased items off the bus, on to the subway, off the subway, up five flights of stairs, and through our narrow doorway (let alone if we could figure out how to put everything together by following its sparse, obtuse instructions). As the bus sped away into the night, I suddenly realized that Ikea had made other plans for the evening, and they were SO not with me.

As time passed, Ikea and I began to develop a more mature relationship. (Having a car helped.) When I moved to San Diego, Ikea provided me with a grad school bed, desk, and dresser, as well as a big pile of nails and dowels whose purpose I never quite figured out. I began to realize that Ikea wasn't perfect, and that other stores had a lot to offer, too. Ultimately, I came to the understanding that my feelings for what Ikea has to offer can be divided into three separate categories, which are:

Things I Need:

Things I Want:

Things I Don't Understand:

Nowadays, as I explore its aisles with my true love (Steve), I am grateful for the things my relationship with Ikea has taught me. And Steve's cool with it, too, because he knows that Ikea and I are just good friends. Also, he likes the 50 cent hot dogs.


Layt said...

Yes, but with Ikea you're building more than a bookcase; you're building character, too.

Anonymous said...

Too funny. But, I so understand. Let me tell you - it's a whole new level when you're at the Ikea in the Netherlands!!!

katiethesis said...

We took some friends to meet Ikea. They scoffed at its' inexpensive Swedish simplicity. It was a dark and sad day. Don't worry Ikea. We still love you! We threw away all our plastic hangers because you showed us that wood was beautiful. We will however in future avoid the Swedish Meatballs.

Emmie said...

Lizzayt - so true! AND I'm building a relationship with your lovely wife! (P.S. Nice link.)

Anonymous - I can only imagine. But what were you doing in the Netherlands?

My sis - I think I've purchased about a hundred of those special wood hangers. I'm sorry to hear that you also had a negative experience with the meatballs.
Yet two more instances where we are twins.

Azúcar said...

Mmmmm ligonberries.

I love IKEA because I do not care about quality furniture that will last 50 years. I want beautiful design and I want to pay bottom dollar for it.

If we don't get an IKEA here, or in Vegas, soon I have lined up a great alternative. My friends have agreed to fly me (for free!) to California, where I will rent a pickup, drive to IKEA, and purchase until the well has run dry.

If I never set foot in RC Willey again in my life, I will consider it a life well-lived.

Azúcar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kiki said...

Things I don't understand but had a lot of fun with in the store: Parlör or The Chröme Phöne. I lost a friend the day she saw me pick that thing up and walk around the store while holding a one-way conversation on it.

becky b said...

I'm pretty sure you just inspired me. You could be their advert/marketing director.

Kiki said...

I was searching online for apartments in NYC this weekend, and sitting on the kitchen counter in a photo of one of the apartments was that white IKEA head.

Emmie said...

Wow. Someone actually bought that thing!

Kiki said...

Yeah, you betcha! Just click here. It's an entire IKEA kitchen, too. It looks like a very nice NY apartment, but it's just a bit too rich for me...IKEA furniture and all.

Emmie said...

Too funny. I love how the head takes up about a third of their counter space. And I agree with you about the richness factor... that's a whole lota chrome.