Ikea. Yes, the completely acceptable, budget friendly, I defy you to walk through the store and only buy what you intended to buy, Swedish super-store. I personally love it in there. My bank account however, does not. Still even with the 12-20 extra things I buy that are not on my list (remember…shopping problem), I still save more than I would at most places. Don’t get me wrong, if I see a piece of furniture somewhere that I absolutely must have.. a one of a kind piece for example… it shall be mine. I find the Ikea furniture substantial enough though for my personal day to day living to get the job done.
The show rooms are incredibly inspiring.Having lived my entire adult life in small living spaces, I am always impressed with how they manage to get so much practical stuff in such a small space, while still making it look uncluttered. This is something you have got to give to the Swedes. They are masters of utilizing minimal space. I find their blankets and pillows irresistible, as anyone who has been to my place will tell you, and I will inevitably, walk out of there with at least two new types of storage containers in various shapes, colors, textiles and sizes or frames, whether I need them or not.
The whole setup of Ikea, reminds me of a well-lit casino. Once you get in there, you have to walk around the entire course of the building to get out. You have no concept of time, despite the dozens of decorative clocks placed throughout the showroom floors, which usually reminds me that I may need another clock someday, so I grab one. There are no windows. You pass various pit-stops where you can refuel which is a good thing, because you have already filled up your first giant yellow plastic Ikea bag and you’re ready to start on your second.
Over the weekend, Mr.P and I had planned to go see Django Unchained (no spoilers!). I was getting ready, and he said, “I’m going to pull a fast one on you and suggest we go to Ikea instead to get you a wardrobe / cupboard / shelving system for your clothes”. Now this is a HUGE deal, because we’ve been together for over 4 years, and over time, a lot of my crap has accumulated here. Being as my humble abode is in another country, and I travel around the world for work, over the years, a lot of my crap has accumulated here at Chez Mr.P. So for him to verbally initiating making more space to me via a trip to Ikea? Sorry Django… you’re already Unchained… you can wait another few days.
We prepared ourselves by looking online at the choices available, made a list, and we’re off.
We walk in and I immediately start lagging behind noticing the new super soft blankets they had thrown on various pieces of furniture throughout the building. I look at the shelving solutions and make a few suggestions, but Mr.P is on a mission and has a plan. Did you know that there are maps with floor plans in Ikea? Yeah! I know! There are ways that you can cut through certain areas to get to where you want to go. Amazing. Who knew?
Our lack of proper Ikea trip planning, left us with minimal time to get what we needed before the store closed. We took Mr.P’s strategic shortcuts through the maze of glorious stuff, and were eventually at the checkout counter. Soon, it was time. You know what I’m talking about.
Yes dear readers, the most popular of all the Swedish cuisine. The best thing since smorgasbords. I’m talking about the one and only Ikea hotdog. So cheap, so necessary, so earned, so bad. There is absolutely nothing spectacular about these hot dogs yet I simply MUST HAVE ONE after every single Ikea trip. Who’s with me here? Seriously? Show of hands. I defy you, unless you are a vegetarian or hate hot dogs, to tell me that you do not get a hot dog at the end of every Ikea journey. Who can resist after all of the calorie burning and imaginary designing you just did? And after the amount of money you just spent on things you didn’t need, 50¢ for a hot dog is all you can afford. Mr.P and I got to talking about this on the journey home. I’d wager, that each Ikea sells a bare minimum of 400 hot dogs on average per day. Mr. P thinks it’s less. If anyone knows the answer, please let us know. There’s a whole 10 SEK (approximately $1.50) wager on this one. I guess the casino vibe of Ikea got me in the gambling mood.
Sunday = Building day. Now, as mentioned, I’ve been a loyal Ikea customer for many, many years. This does not mean that I put the furniture together. I have a bunch of handymen at my disposal who are easily bought with free concert tickets and beer, so the few times I’ve needed to make big purchases, I’ve called upon these trusty manly-men to.. .achem.. “help me”. (**Read: build the whole thing.)
Now, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. I am by no means, helpless. I will give any guy (or gal) a run for their money when it comes to lifting gear, moving heavy objects, going 5 days without a shower, etc. I live on the road, in a bus with a bunch of guys for a living. If I had not learned to develop thick skin and insist on being treated equally and never play “the girl card”, I would not have lasted as long as I have in this business.
With that said, when I see something like this:
I know that it will eventually result in this:
No habla, as the saying goes.
So here we go. The first time Mr.P and I are going to put Ikea furniture together. Now, he knows me and wouldn’t be so quick to fall for the old free beer ploy. I’m going to have to attempt to tackle these cryptic instructions on my own.
So now, here I am, with this manual in my hands while he’s busy working on another project. After realizing that I was holding it upside down, I turn it around, look at the pieces in front of me, take a deep breath, and dive in.
Needless to say, after a lot of cursing, Mr.P comes over to see my progress. “I made it to step 5!” I exclaim, quite proud of myself. He quietly looks at my work, skims through the manual for, I kid you not, no more than 6 seconds, takes apart everything I have done, and effortlessly builds this immaculate shelving cupboard system in 8 minutes.
Then, it came to me. These Ikea instruction manuals are Ancient Swedish Hieroglyphics. It’s the only explanation there is. Mr. P is Swedish, you see. I’ve had plenty of Germans and Americans “help me” with the Ikea building process and EVERYONE fumbles and curses at the pieces as well as the creators of Ikea, and eventually Sweden at some point. That damn allen key gets thrown across the room at least once before a walk outside to get some air before you take the part that you have been working on for over 4 hours now, and throw it out the window.
But Mr.P had some sort of knowledge inside of him from ancestors past. Ancestors that created the language of the Ikea manuals. They scribbled the Ikea manual sad face guy on cave walls depicting a rock table on the bare ground that has been broken due to poor placement. They slap an “X” through it, so that future Ikea guys would know not to put the rock table directly on the hard ground and smash it without a gorgeous Asian rug underneath.
So there you have it folks. The next time you’re attempting an Ikea building project, put aside at least a day and know that unless you are Swedish, it’s ok if there’s some cursing, yelling, possibly smashing and finally, heavy drinking. Because unless you are Swedish, you are not meant to clearly understand the furniture building cave drawings of the ancient Swedes.