Two world travelers meet. They talk. They smile. They fall in love. Their life together goes through its infancy on the road. On the train. Take off. Landing. Bad hotels. Great hotels. Full English breakfast. The proposal. The wedding, planned a continent away. They move. They move again. They place roots. They acquire guest towels and go to dentist appointments. They pack and label boxes and commit to be in one place long enough to take a breath and have a nice cup of tea. They decide to buy a house.
When such weary travelers devote themselves to such a settled lifestyle one question is bound to arise. Can they survive IKEA on a Saturday?
The answer is encompassed in the beautiful German slang term – Jein. Meaning, of course, yes and no. No one can really escape both the euphoria, which comes with checking a furniture item off your list that both matches your design ascetic and your budget, and inevitable disappointment that IKEA invokes.
One can really base the progress of one’s relationship on how the ride home from a trip to IKEA sounds. Is there tense chatter, normal complacency, or eerie silence? The maze-like walkway through IKEA really is the obstacle course with which many a lesser relationship has been tested. But not for pros like us. Oh no. We rock those tiny-fake-apartments and bins of tea candles. Oh IKEA, how many Saturdays have I walked thou hollowed halls? Let me count the flat-packed boxes!
Some tips for a generally satisfying Saturday at IKEA. First, do not go hungry. Pack yourself a granola bar. Second, DO NOT eat the meatballs. There will be posters. It will smell like meatballs. Do not give in. You are almost to the end of the 800 square foot apartment displays. Just follow the arrows!
Third, you will ask your partner to grab the handy paper and pencil IKEA provides and they will roll their eyes at you and mention that you were just there to buy that one thing you promised to only look at and buy that one thing and why do you need to write anything down and take measurements with that useless tiny IKEA measuring tape. Try not to huff off. People are watching.
Fourth, try not to judge the families with young children who practice, in public, a series of unfortunate parenting mishaps, such as letting their 2-year-old ride the unsafe way in the shopping cart or jump on all the beds. Remember, that might be you someday and you will probably be worse at it. Especially on a Saturday. Especially in the morning. Especially in the IKEA.
I never visited an IKEA until we moved to DC. The first time was confusing. Why is there a cafeteria filled with elderly people? Why do all the item names have extra vowels and umlauts? How did a Swedish company get Americans to buy such European home décor and walk around saying things like, “should we get the SKÄRPT that match our AKURUM?”
Then after admiring all the nicely designed rooms and vignettes, the arrowed path sends you down the stairs, into the belly of the monster, with cheap bins filled with sadly packaged items stripped of their displayed glory. Even worse, the next stop on the tour is an actual warehouse. No joke. It’s just a warehouse. Where you, yourself, fetch your item. I’d like my minimum wage and a 20-minute lunch break please. At least you can get an oddly-named cinnamon bun on your way out as compensation.
Coming full circle you return to the blessed daylight after forgetting, some time ago, if you entered the store in that light or in total darkness. Either way when you exit it is a surprise. You drive your faithful and familiar car up to the loading dock where it betrays you for not being long enough or oddly shaped enough for all your flat packed boxes. You look to the right and left and warmly smile at other couples in smaller cars, disagreeing in public over the $70.00 delivery charge. “We can just tie it on top.” “Well did you bring rope?” “Of course I didn’t bring rope. What do you think, I just bring rope with me places?” Et cetera.
Describing the assembling of an IKEA find really would warrant its own entry. And come with instructions. That are hard to understand. And have creepy “people” assisting you. You know you’ve been too often when the figures start playing monsters in your dreams.