Let’s Be Honest About IKEA

I think IKEA can peer into our very souls and find all it needs to continue a successful business making furniture out of toothpicks and laughing manically while you buy said tower of non-weight bearing splinter-shards, attempt to put it together, fail miserably…and then return for more Scandinavian bludgeoning. I’m not kidding. They are absolute geniuses. Their whole dynamic plan of execution is fantastic. I’ve never seen a place more proud to sell crap, mock you mercilessly while doing so, seduce you with cooking items for a mere pittance…thereby sustaining the addiction, and then taunt you with meatballs.

Let’s break down the sport that is IKEA.

The Catalog

Oh, yes. This is where it all begins. You say to yourself, “So what? It’s a catalog. What harm can come from just browsing a few pages? We really could use a new console table. I’m just going to go to the console table section and see what they have. No big deal.”

You silly, silly, person. You’re already part of the cycle. Sure, you could just go to the “console table” section…but wait, that section is located at the back of the catalog, and there are like two hundred pages full of items you never dreamed you needed from page 1 to pages 231…like a pinstriped chaise lounge called the Dookdërp looking so wonderful amongst the manufactured country cottage background! This would look great in the den! So, so, great! How much does it cost? $250! Well, I’m writing this down. Dookdërp in pinstripe blue and white. Done. Now about those console tables…um, do I need a spaghetti strainer/wire whisk/bread basket? Well, one day I hope to make a spaghetti egg bread soufflé, that exists, right? So uh, maybe. Holy Circle Jerk it’s $.14!

With each new page you are fulfilling a prophecy. A prophecy that will result in an actual trip to IKEA…just to see the console tables…the Dookdërp , and the SpaghettiWhiskdëgogën, that’s it. Seriously. Ten minutes in and out.

The Store

So you pull up to the behemoth blue and yellow monstrosity, IKEA, nee’ the place of blood debts and mysterious wooden coat hooks. Once you get there you realize that this is no regular store. No, sirree. You can’t just pull up and park, grab a shopping cart, and then make your way through the double doors as if this were some Target. That’s crazy talk. You try to act all nonchalant but there’s a strategy here. For instance: Will you need the handy IKEA merchandise recyclable shopping bag that can only hold four SpaghettiWhiskdëgogëns? Or will you need something mightier like an actual cart, or one of those half-carts where you can attach the IKEA bag to the front and anything bigger on the dolly portion? You look around and choose the latter, since you just plan to be in the store for ten minutes, and you don’t want to look like that family of seven with their game faces on, pushing two carts, and who almost knocked that old woman down to get on the elevator. Entering an IKEA takes preparation, cunning, and strong elbows. But you’re so not like them. Ten minutes, really.

So here you are armed with your catalog and your little sawed off pencil-of-demonic-Scandinavian-writing-dervishness and up the escalator you go. You ignore the screaming kids in the bacteria-coated ballroom. You notice the smell of Swedish meatballs somewhere in the distance. No, you won’t be distracted. Onward. And so you begin what can only be described as an Elizabethan castle maze. Seriously, there is no escape. You are literally a mouse hoping to sniff the cheese near the exit. Can you just cut through and get to the console tables without seeing every Godforsaken thing in the entire building? No, no you may not. I imagine there are whole throngs of people who’ve been trapped in IKEA for years. They subsist on meatballs and metal hinges, and every night they roam the store like zombies afraid to put any body weight on the displays.

You have to wind your way through every placemat, lampshade, sofa, and butcher block kitchen table scribbling furiously on your IKEA provided pamphlet of all the things you never before knew you needed like a linen closet! Or a 12th Century Birthing Table! before you are left to wander the basement of the place in hopes of finding those few items (or twelve!) lying in wait for you with use of almost military coordinates that say something like, “Aisle 24. Row 8. Patience 0.” Will you find what you actually need? This is an important question since no IKEA item that comes in a box has just the one box. No, no. Most everything is in parts. You must locate boxes 2 and 3 of 4 or 40 billion…however that works. AND there’s no guarantee that all the boxes for your Dookdërp will be there. Some joker with 2 out of 3 boxes may have swooped in to get the one box you need. Fucker. You hope a SVÅKKASJS or a JERKKOFJED falls on his sternum. The mania that ensues in the basement of IKEA is cutthroat and brutal. Every man and Dookdërp for themselves.

Once you’ve located all your very many, correctly numbered items…so begins the most fun of the IKEA experience, the check-out party (why does anyone need 80 tea light candles and a spatula?), which is second to getting all of your balsa wood items home for assembling, swearing, and throwing a hammer down the stairs…unless this just happens in my house.

Before you go home, though, you wander back upstairs to the IKEA cafeteria…

Now, it’s not too unusual to find dining accommodations in a department store. After-all if you’ve ever been in a Target or a Wall-Mart you realize that Pizza Hut and McDonald’s pretty much own this realm. Not saying that it’s advisable to visit these places as they’re often filled with screaming kids and adults who look like they’re about to throw themselves through a window…but IKEA is different. IKEA wants you to take their dining options seriously. As in, “Come in to the store on Wednesday nights, folks. Have dinner with us. We’re serving bar-be-que ribs! (and our famous meatballs)” I’m just curious. Who are the people who on a Wednesday are saying, “Well, I don’t know about you, Ted, but I could really go for some ribs and a new desk chair tonight, IKEA?”

It’s certainly one thing to be in the store for hours (running through that rat maze!) and realize that you haven’t eaten, nor are you getting out, so okay, let’s see what they have to eat before we dehydrate and contemplate gnawing on a plastic ottoman. So you go up to the cafeteria and find yourself with a plate of meatballs, mashed potatoes, and green beans just to survive the ride home, but it’s something else entirely to make a plan for IKEA cuisine. That’s just lunacy.

Now that you’re fed (also ice cream for $1. Those crafty bastards.) And you’ve checked out of the store (some guy tried to drive away with a box on his hood, and it fell off before he left the parking lot. Amateur.), now you can go home and get to work.

Assembling Your Furniture

Well, now, here you are. You’ve managed to get your Dookdërp,  and several other items that took you four hours to locate, home. Ten minutes…yes, this was a delusion that went crashing to the ground by the Gods of IKEA and their wonderful talent for hostage negotiations. You get to leave the store, but you will have no fewer than seven items rammed into the back of your Toyota when you do. Once you’re done clapping yourself on the back for a job well done by only spending $500 and coming home with a veritable king’s ransom, you’ve got to put all that crap together…because nothing from IKEA comes fully assembled.

So you open your boxes and guess what falls out? Not well-written, perfectly described, patiently articulated instructions….no, what you get is a bunch of stick-men illustrations that you’ll need to decipher like some sort of Scandinavian Hieroglyphics. Fantastic. Heaven help you if the long screw in the picture looks like the short screw in person, or if the doohickey in the thingamajig doesn’t fit into the metal whirligig on the whoseitwhat’sit…because there are no actual words to give you any hints! So now the dresser drawer you just installed won’t close all the way….and well, maybe you’ll just kick it to make it fit. Yes, yes, that’s what you’ll do, but not too hard since you know the whole thing is made of bread sticks and wooden dowels, so just a little kick, just a little man-powered oomph, right? Okay. So now it collapsed.

Enjoying Your IKEA Purchase

After the sweat and curses, and running back to the IKEA store for more dowels and plastic nuts and bolts wizardry, there you are, looking at your new console table. Isn’t it glorious? Aren’t you completely stoked that it only took you four hours, the skin of your thumb, an in-store rant at the apathetic employee in the IKEA parts department, five missing screws, and ten baby tea leaves from Mt. Kilimanjaro? Sure, you may not be able to put anything heavier than a buttermilk biscuit on top, nor may you lean against it with more force than a fingertip, but it looks trendy and has that nice burnished wood look that you can only get from something that has adhesive on the back and really shouldn’t get wet. All in all, you’ve come out ahead of the game, where someone else paid upward of two grand for their vintage antique road show furniture…you now have something that will last exactly as long as your cat’s decision not to knock it over.

It was so very worth it. Until, well, you go back to IKEA because that console table just needs a side chair, and the new catalog has one on page 241.

*Hey, guys, just for shits and giggles here’s an IKEAesque Furniture Name Generator. Put in your name (or any other random word) and see what it would be called if the crap furniture retailer decided to sell it! It even tells you what type of furniture it would be.

IKEA catalog cover created by Klas Holmlund, Apply No Pressure image via Facebook Group, IKEA Furniture is not Built for Sex

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