My wife dropped a suggestion at dinner.
It landed just south of the salad and lay there ticking like a time bomb while I considered the implications.
“Let’s go to IKEA tomorrow,” she said.
I had to think about that.
What was she really saying?
To understand what was really going on here, one must understand IKEA
What is IKEA
IKEA is to retail, what Volvo is to cars – both Swedish and terribly strange.
IKEA stores specialize in inexpensive household furnishings; all made from three basic ingredients: particle board, Tupperware and meatballs. These materials are then combined into a bewildering array of products that satisfy every possible human desire.
But what makes IKEA truly delightful is its odd product names.
IKEA Naming Guide:
Warning!!! Even linguists who are fluent in bar-code have been injured while attempting to pronounce IKEA product names. Never attempt this without proper training by a certified instructor.
|Product Category||Product Name|
|Upholstered furniture, coffee tables, doorknobs||Swedish place names that even Swedes cannot pronounce|
|Beds, wardrobes, hall furniture||Words not allowed in scrabble|
|Dining tables and chairs||Finnish ghost towns|
|Bookcase and office aids||Forgotten occupations|
|Bathroom articles||Scandinavian bogs and tidal flats|
|Kitchen appliances||Swedish tongue twisters|
|Chairs and desks||Hotentot evil spirits|
|Curtains||Sri Lankan women’s names|
|Garden furniture||Volvo part numbers|
|Carpets||Words discovered in Danish pastry|
|Bed-linens, covers, pillows and cushions||Errors found on 3rd grade spelling tests|
The IKEA Store Experience.
IKEA stores are designed in a “one-way” layout. Think of walking through a McDonald’s play-land built for adults. The purpose is to trap you in a universe made entirely of particle board, Tupperware and meatball for the better part of an afternoon. Having wasted so much time there, you feel compelled to buy something.
An unaccompanied adult in good health can sprint through an IKEA store in less than two hours. I estimated our adventure would take at least eight because all she said she wanted was a reading lamp.
What I should have asked at dinner was, “Why IKEA?”
To understand her answer, there are a few things you must know:
- IKEA furniture is incredibly cheap.
- It is where college kids go to outfit their dorm rooms.
- It is the next stop for young lovers after signing their first lease.
- It is the place where young families go to furnish a house on a negative budget.
In short, IKEA is where adult life begins.
So why would a grandmother want to go there?
At the very first display, she drew my attention to a one room apartment furnished entirely in particle board and Tupperware.
“Isn’t that CUTE!!” she cried.
It is then I knew what she was doing.
She wasn’t interested in my opinion on modular couches or kitchen utensils named after fish. She hadn’t gone to IKEA to shop at all.
She went there to dream.
What she was really saying when she said IKEA, was “Come with me for a day and let’s do what we used to do when we were young and life was open to every promise. Let’s dream together again.”