Friday, October 5, 2012

I Put The 'Groan' in 'Gronskulla'

Yeah, I know.  No Foodie Friday this week either.  To be honest, my restaurant consumption has dropped faster than Facebook stock since I started dating someone who actually LIKES to cook.  Pfft!  What's up with that?   Also, I've been a bit preoccupied as of late with the divorce drama currently surrounding my friend, Kelly. As I can't take her out and get her snot-flying drunk. . .*

*A.A. tends to frown upon that.

. . .I have been consoling her in the best way I know how: with Starbucks cake pops and a shit ton of Ryan Gosling movies.

Last week Kelly and her kids moved out of their house and into a cool little condo closer to downtown Portland.*

*The mortgage on their house was just too high for one income and Todd had left far to pungent an aura of douche to make it livable. 

In a further effort to exorcise the demons left behind by her craptacular soon-to-be-ex-husband, I suggested that Kelly get rid of her old furniture and we start fresh with the ultimate rite of passage for all divorcees and college students: a trip to IKEA.

"Are we there yet?"  Kelly whined, piloting her SUV down I-84.  "We're almost to the freaking airport."

I laughed.  "That's because it's NEXT TO the freaking airport."

Kelly's 13-year-old daughter popped her head up from the backseat.  "You guys don't have to say 'freaking'.  I've heard you use the 'F' word before."

"Well, that's comforting, Soph"  Kelly replied.  "I'll make sure to add that to the list of my exemplary parenting skills."

Sophie shrugged, popped her earbuds back in, and settled back to listen to all of the things Justin Bieber would do "if he was her booooooyfriend".*

*Last week I agreed to accompany Sophie and three of her friends to the upcoming Bieber/Carly Rae Jepsen concert.  ((shudder))  I'm scared. . .hold me.

We continued on in the creeping traffic, silently sipping our coffee.

"Why is traffic so bad?"  Kelly mused, peering into her rearview mirror.  "There can't be THAT many people heading to the airport.  October isn't exactly peak travel season."

"It's the sun glare."  I replied.  

"Christ on a crouton!"  Kelly cried "Only in Oregon would SUNSHINE cause a traffic jam." She poked her head out of the window and began shouting at the surrounding cars "You aren't the Volturi, people!  It can't hurt you!"

I chuckled and poked her in the arm.  "Chill out, Queen of the Damned, look!  There it is!"

We peered out the windshield  as IKEA came into view in all of its majestic blue and gold glory.  Now, I must admit something. . .before that day, I was an IKEA virgin.  Sure, I'd heard stories about how amazing and frightening it was the first time; and how it may even be a little painful.  I knew people who said it was "no big deal" but I am old-fashioned and wanted to make sure that the first time was special and beautiful, so I saved myself. That being said, I was ill-prepared for just how life-changing this experience would be. We pulled into the parking lot and meandered for a good ten minutes before finding a parking spot.  Emerging from the car we stood staring for a moment at the monolith before us.

"It looks like a health club".  Sophie said with confusion.

"It looks like the Branch Davidian complex."  Kelly countered.  "Hey, Soph, promise me that if anyone hands you matches and tells you to head for the basement you'll run, OK?" Sophie rolled her eyes. . .*

*Because she's 13, and that's her job.

. . .and we slowly made our way through the front doors.  Now, I'm assuming that most of you have been to IKEA before but if not, ho.  Ly.  Shit.  That place is freaking (Oops, sorry, Sophie. . ."fucking") HUGE!!!  There are maps available, arrows on the floor guiding you to your destination, and even a full service restaurant to provide you with the tiny meatballs and tangy lingonberries needed to sustain you on your quest.  We took our maps in hand and began browsing the lower level.

"What's a 'fjell'?"  Sophie queried, squinting at the tag on the bedframe before us.  "Or a 'folldal'?  Are those even real words?" 

 "I don't think that's even real Swedish." I replied "It's faux Swedish, like Haagen-Daas or Fahrvergnugen."

"Fahrvergnugen is German." Sophie stated smugly.*

*Sophie's too smart for her own good.  Kelly should have smoked during her pregnancy to knock that kid down a peg or two.

"Whatevs, you know what I mean." I dismissed with a wave of my hand.  Oh shit!  I just thought of something!"

Kelly sighed deeply. "I'm going to regret asking this, but. . .what?"

"What if this whole IKEA naming thing is just Sweden's way of trying to turn Swedish into the official international language?" I gasped.

Kelly squinted and stared at me curiously. "I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of all that 'crazy'."

"I'm serious!"  I cried.  "By blanketing the planet with IKEA's and ensuring that every college student, 20-something, and recently divorced person's home is filled with their 'lindved' tables, 'fahrkost' lamps, and 'ektorp' chairs, they are slowly integrating their language into our culture one 'djupvik' at a time."

Kelly shook her head and faced Sophie gravely.  "And THIS is why you must never do drugs, Soph."  Sophie rolled her eyes again and we continued on.

"I need a new couch." Kelly stated, peering at her map.  "Where are the couches?"
I peeked over her shoulder and attempted to read the labyrinthine schematic before us.  "Jesus!  Did Escher draw this thing?  We'll have to leave a trail of lingonberries and Allen wrenches to make it out alive."

Never one to admit defeat, Kelly continued to scour the map.  "I think we just follow the arrows past the bookshelves. . .or are those the kitchen cabinets?  Shit, help me out here, Jen."

Sighing dramatically, I pried the map from her hands.  "OK. . .it looks like. . .we go past the lamps, make a right at the sisal rugs, take the escalator to the second floor, make the first two left past bathroom furnishings, travel fifty paces due east, then ask directions from the first person you see wearing a blue and yellow shirt.  Then we just continue wandering aimlessly until we either see the couches or are forced to battle the minotaur."    

Kelly shook her head in frustration.  "Maybe I'll just skip the couches and be all Japanese and Zen-like.  We'll just sit on big floor cushions."

I glanced at the map.  "According to the map the floor cushions are next to the couches."


Eventually, after many failed attempts, a hearty serving of Swedish meatballs, and a meltdown that would make Aileen Wournos look like Maria Von Trapp, Kelly procured the tag for her couch and we made our way to the basement warehouse to claim it.

"This looks like that basement in 'Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'," I mused, "only with less Daniel Craig and more shitty bookshelves."

"Wasn't that movie filmed in Sweden too?"  Sophie asked.*

*Like I said.  Too.  Damned.  Smart.

I gasped in horror and Kelly reached over and swatted the back of Sophie's head.  "For God's sake, Sophie, don't encourage Jen!  She's about five minutes from declaring war on Stockholm."

"I'm telling you, the Swede's are planning a hostile takeover!"  I whispered urgently. "I don't think they've fully gotten over the whole Olof Palme debacle during the Vietnam War."

"Who?"  Sophie asked.*
*Ooh, Miss Smarty-Pants; something you DON'T know!  Suck it!

 "Don't ask, Sophie."  Kelly sighed.  "Do not engage with the crazy lady.  I repeat: Do.  Not.  Engage."

Thus chastised, I trailed sullenly behind Kelly and Sophie as we waited in the seemingly endless line of patrons waiting to pick up their furniture.  When we approached the counter, Kelly handed the disgruntled yellow-shirt her tag and he returned with a deceptively streamlined box. 

"Are you sure that's my couch?"  Kelly inquired suspiciously.  Yellow shirt just grunted unintelligibly and moved on to the next person and we rolled the flatbed cart out toward Kelly's car.  "I'm going to be wicked pissed if we get this home and it's not really my couch."

"Yeah,"  I agreed, hefting the box into Kelly's SUV.  "How exactly does one condense an entire sofa into something the size of a Dominos pizza box?  That's some seriously cosmic shape-shifting shit right there, yo." 

"The same way they manage to cram so much flavor into one tiny meatball or wedge all of that fabulous into one Gabor sister."  Kelly replied.  "The Swedes are master's in the art of streamlining."

With a final grunt and a slam of the tailgate, we wedged the box into Kelly's ride and started back to her new condo.  Once there she bribed me with promises of Taco Bell and a Jeremy Renner filmfest if I would stay to help her assemble it and damnit!  I'm a giver!  Of course, when it comes to assembling furniture I'm about as intelligent as the kid on the porch in "Deliverance". . .combine that with the fact that I have the fine motor skills of an arthritic wolverine and I'd say she chose poorly.  Nonetheless, we emptied the contents of the box and set to work, Allen wrenches at the ready.

 "Are there supposed to be this many pieces?"  I moaned in frustration.  "It's a COUCH for sobbing out loud, not the MIR space station."

Kelly furrowed her brow as she wrestled with one of the wooden slats.  "Well, at least it doesn't have as many pieces as that goddamn BRIO train set Justin got for his birthday last year."  She huffed.  "I almost lost my shit putting that thing together."

"You know that BRIO's are made in Sweden too, right?"

She stared at me, her face a mask of sheer anger. "If it weren't for a particular culinary Muppet and my affinity for ABBA I would hate the Swedes so damned hard right now. Forget divorce, forget moving, forget my shitty job. . .IKEA is enough to make me start drinking again."

I patted her shoulder in mock consolation.  "Buck up, my little soldier.  Just remember what they say in A.A.: 'take it one 'didrijk' at a time'."

While both Kelly and myself owe the fine people of A.A. our lives, we are in agreement that the cheesy cross-stitch sampler platitudes they spew out make us want to stab kittens.  Taking her heightened level of psychosis into account I was taking my life into my own hands here.

Kelly smiled placidly.  "I will. . .and you just remember to: 'Keep it 'knupstorp, Stupid'."

"I'll do my best."  I nodded sagely "And all I ask is that 'God grants me the serenity to accept the 'odmjuk' I cannot change, the 'smorrbold' to change the things I can, and the 'fyrkantig' to know the difference'."

Sophie stared at us doubled over in the wreckage of the couch, laughing like a couple of coked-up whores.

"Are my friends and I gonna be weird like you when we're old?" she asked.

I hope so, Soph. . .I sure as hell hope so.



Leauxra said...

Awesome. Blogger just ate my comment. Something about minotaurs and ... Oh yeah, if I lived closer, I would totally help you. I am a badass at making furniture and puzzles... as long as I don't have to navigate anywhere we're golden (I could get lost in a scarf, honestly).

Erica Burns said...

There's absolutely nothing wrong with my Ektorp couch.. maybe except that I'm missing the matching recliner and/or loveseat.. I mean I can take all the covers off and throw them in the wash when my rugrats spill shit all over them or get them dirty because they were riding their bikes through mud puddles or rolling around in the dirt. We specifically wanted to get a cheap couch that we could clean because we knew that it's becasue of the kids that we can't have anything nice...

I hope you made it through the instructions-that-were-drawn-by-kindergarteners okay and were able to relax after!

Our nearest Ikea is a 2 hour drive- east just south of Boston or south, in Southern CT.. At a minimum it's an 8 hour adventure to complete a trip to that store.. it's massive

Jen said...

LEAUXRA - Blogger is being a tremendous douche today. Meh... I wish you were here as we STILL have not fully assembled that damned sofa. At this rate her kids will be out of the house by the time it's done.

ERICA - I may frame the instructions; they were THAT freaking hilarious!

Winopants said...

Yes, nothing challenges my mental sanity more then a trip to Ikea. The sterile environment, the lack of windows-I always feel like I'm wandering around in circles with no end in sight. At the checkout counter it's a "uh oh, how am I emptying my checking out right now?" And then the final insult: the assembly, via weird, wordless instructions.
"The fine motor skills of an arthritic wolverine" Nice!

Erica Burns said...

I bet you could do a comic strip in Ikea Instruction style.. and it may or may not make some sense to everyone in the world..

and for fun I'd like to see your 6 degrees skills done in Ikea Instruction Style (*note, NOT Gangnam Style- although A video of that would be hilarious)

Anonymous said...

Yeah yeah yeah, furniture, whatever. But aren't those meatballs AMAZING??? I love those things so damn hard! My mom is addicted to IKEA, and used to go there at least every other month to pick up little stupid shit. She would always ALWAYS grab me a bag of those meatballs and some of the sauce packets. I think I actually still have a couple of those packs in my pantry, honestly. I haven't had the meatballs in forever, though. Now you have me craving their deliciousness. Normal Friday Jen post . . . accomplished! :p

Oh, and I'm part Swedish. And you love me. So suck it! ;)

Jen said...

WINO - It was a little like being in Vegas; no windows, no clocks, and that vague scent of desperation in the air.

ERICA - Now I have that song in my head. . .damn it.

Valerie said...

Listen to me... The only sure-fire way to get through a god forsaken Bieber concert is to youtube the video of him getting hit in the head with a waterbottle at one of his own concerts. Watch it over and over again. Then pray it happens again... Live. Also, when all else fails, do as the monkeys do... FLING POO!

You can do this.



Jen said...

VALERIE - Just finished watching that video twice...OK, maybe three times...OK, five. Don't judge.

Tiffany said...

Oh, I sure hope Sophie ends up with friends like this. The main thing I thought as I was reading this was, "I'm so glad I have friends like this now. Fun, loyal, and crazy as fuck."

Vesta Vayne said...

Oh no, uh-uh. I can't do the Ikea, too much temptation. Like a casino making you pass by every friggin slot machine in the place before finding the exit, Ikea makes you go through the bottom floor maze filled with potpourri and ice cube trays shaped like lips. I go in for a chair and come out with all sorts of stuff I don't need.

Jen said...

MISTY - You're a Gabor sister, aren't you? Admit it! YOU'RE THE LOST GABOR SISTER!!!

TIFFANY - It takes many years of wisdom and abject failure to develop friendships like that. I wish that for Soph.

VESTA - I know! I came home with a lamp that I don't even need...or like...IKEA is the devil's playground.

Von said...

I have never ventured into an Ikea store, having only ever succumbed to buying a couple of bookcases via catalogue many years ago. In those days the instructions had words as well as obscure drawings. I'm sure in person I would be one of those people who would leave with bags and bags of useless little shit things.

I doubt if you'll be able to hear Beiber "sing" over the screams of the audience, so that will be something to be thankful for. And tell him to pull his damned pants up, will you?

Rachael said...

I worked at IKEA for two years. It's like a black hole. You go in for the $1.00 breakfast and come out $1000.00 poorer.

6 years later I still can't watch a movie or a tele show without pointing out the IKEA furniture.

Did you know IKEA actually stands for something. IK are the founder's initials, E is for the farm he grew up on and A is for his hometown. Useless piece of information for the day.

Jen said...

VON - I'm now gagging thinking about Bieber's pants. That is not OK. Promise that you'll be there to talk me off of the ledge "post concert".

RACHEL - NOOOOOOO!!!!! So, IKEA has infiltrated my two favorite countries; America and Australia? ((sigh!)) Is there no justice in this world?

Brett Minor said...

I have never been to an IKEA. I don't even think I have driven past one. I keep hearing about it, but it sounds a bit intimidating anyway.

However, I want to try the meatballs.

Brett Minor said...

I just figured out why. The nearest one to me is over 300 miles away. I won't see one for a while. I'm not taking a day trip to go look at furniture.

QOE said...

I, too, have never been near an IKEA. To tell you the truth, I've always thought of it as a mythical place like Narnia. Only with less lions and witches and more wardrobes. And apparently minotaurs too.

Jennifer Clark said...

Sweetie, the Gabors were/are Hungarian. I'm not sure why I know that....

Never have I set foot in an IKEA. I had too much good furniture my grandmother left to me, I guess. Miles once opined, "Great. Our house is decorated in 'Early American Grandma'."

Anonymous said...

Ikea is Stockholm Sydrome in store form. They lock you away, take all your money, and you leave with fond memories. The ultimate in love-hate relationships...

Eunice said...

I went to the Ikea in Cardiff (in south Wales) for the first time last year. I was astounded at how big it is, and confuzzling. By the time my daughter and I got to the end, I had a trolley loaded with stuff that I didn't know existed, never mind that I wanted it. And I was walking on the stumps of my knees by then. Daughter keeps trying to persuade me to go again. We live in Abersytwyth, so about 2-and-a-half hours away, as the red kite flies. Think I'd better take out another mortgage.