A Virgins Guide to Ikea
As an impoverished wannabe spartan eschewing the odious collection of 'stuff' and with an 'ah sure this will do' attitude Ikea has never entered high on list of priorities, never made it to a mid-life bucket list and the Ikea evangelists entreaties have largely fallen on deaf ears, blinkered eyes, upturned nose and perhaps more importantly hands pulled out of empty pockets a la Charlie Chaplin in tramp mode. This assignment had changed that. I had John and Johan's money for a start. Accompanying me was Sille, a Danish native, very accustomed to the the way of Ikea and if I were to continue my 'virgin' simile I would have to call her a very bad name indeed.
Lets just say she was experienced. This would be my first time and I was in good hands. Time was against us because I was rather, unusually for me, late. Upon entering we snapped straight in consumerist mode and had a coffee and cake having ventured no further than 20 yards from the entrance. It felt good spending someone else money on cake in the name of research. After our fabulous and cheap Fika freak-out we set about our business and ascended, what I later came to call, the 'deceptive' escalator.
And so it began. Circling the assembled visions of domestication one could not but conclude that these people have at the very least googled the phrase interior design. Room after room of carefully considered clutter, their reality only betrayed by price tags and assorted labelling. It struck me that Ikea must straddle a fine line between their modernist vision and their need to include as many products as is conceivably possible. Rooms did indeed seem 'busy' but then again Swedes do live in such small apartments unlike our ample mansions back in Ireland - we have so many houses we haven't got around to living in all of them yet. But I digress - back in Ikea a very odd sensation, that was to occur regularly throughout the day, hit me as I found myself back to the very spot where we started out. A full 360 degree rotation had occured without my knowledge or consent. This happened again to my total surprise on the next level. My sense of direction had been violated twice. These guys were good. I also noticed that a wave of docility had come over me as we meandered, browsing as the Ikea gods had intended. It was here that I recalled the insightful breakthroughs in the management of livestock by Temple Grandin. I had helped implement some of her designs in my brothers farmyard. I have no wish to brutally condense her work but here goes anyway; she liked curves. They reduced stress on animals. And while we are not as complex as the cow, 4 stomachs folks, they could also work on us. So designs from a car-park made it to a New York gallery now found its way here. Seemed like such a convenient story but like Freyer in one of his paranoid corporate Columbo moments I sensed a higher, more elaborate, form of manipulation deployed on a global scale against an unsuspecting audience. Then Sille told me other stores were not like this one. I then felt an urge for more cake but we didn't have time.
We continued down the 8 levels of the store, sort of like Dante's 9 circles of hell with 11.25% off, and came upon the billy. Ah the billy, with its slim figure, upright posture and incredibly boring personality. The wooden equivalent of an accountant taking yoga lessons. Nice to meet you. We looked at all the various ways the billy managed to be boring and picked the blue boring one.
As we set off to acquire our new found friend in flatpack form I was struck by the number of levels getting in our way to freedom. The 'deceptive' escalator had struck me as rather short as we entered but here we were Dante-ing down at the 7th level still looking at utensils and the like. Hmmm I thought to myself - first severe sense of direction malfunction and now depth perception issues. These Swede were now encroaching on my sanity. Sille was naturally non-plussed. This puzzle was later solved when we exited the building. The exit was considerable lower in the landscape than the entrance. The escalator was a mental trick deployed upon the non-enthused shoppers I surmised.
Warning - This paragraph will probably use clumsy sexual references pertaining to those used above - so you may want to skip to the next one. We finally reached the large basement level with its array of flat packed wonders. The transition to this new arena was quite abrupt and startling. I didn't have a clue what to do here but the assembled Swedes sure did. Note - that was not the sexual reference I promised. Easy now. I decided to abandon Sille's wise counsel and do what I would normally do - harass innocent floor staff. I was once barred from a McDonalds for verbose indecisiveness so I have previous in this department. The staff were all top notch, knowledgeable, polite and way above my experiences of larger outlets of this type. They were unruffled by my incompetence and situated me where I needed to be. Paragraph ending now - sorry for the sex talk tease but this thing is dragging on and I need to keep ye here somehow.
Billy found in flat pack form now we had a frightening realisation. John Freyer was frickin dingbats nuts and we had 5 weeks in this sadists company. And worse still Johan was his enabler. In other words this billy was heavy. Very heavy. We felt we were part of some Passion of the Christ reenactment society. As this vision of a biblical Ikea dispensing crosses hit me the tannoy announced something foreign in a tone that said get out of my garden. In a rather bold move we decided to incur the wrath of this clearly deranged middle American and buy the billy as a younger boy version. Even this kid was big boned. So now I had a small billy - which again is not the reference promised - and we set about leaving. Payment was straight forward and we escaped out into the night. As yours mind are already in the gutter and all this virginity/sex talk impinges on Sille's dignity and my mothers parenting I've now decided to leave it aside. We got the Ikea bus and headed homeward, Sille disembarking first, leaving me to hold my billy all by myself.