IKEA is evil.
I have always known that the Swedes are out to take over the world, and I’ve always wondered why this is so. It seems that Swedish people really enjoy taking their home products and shoving them down the world’s collective throat, and I never really thought much of it. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t dislike the Swedes as a kooky and motley people that they are, although their pluck and entrepreneurship are a little irksome to me. I didn’t even dislike the Swedes as a whole even after our experience with our Swedish real estate agent from hell (but that is a story for some other time). I like Swedish meatballs and massages and ABBA and I even freely admit to still kind of liking Ace of Base and knowing way more lyrics of theirs than is cool (but you could have guessed that). Oh, and Roxette: gotta mention Roxette in the distinguished roll call of. I like yellow and blue together– it’s pretty. Volvos and Saabs are good cars (even if now they aren’t technically Swedish, courtesy of Ford and GM), if a little bland.
There is Pippi Longstocking and Björn Borg and Baby Björn (mostly) and did I mention ABBA? And there is one of my favorite words of all time coming from the Swedish: smörgåsbord.
But then there is the seedy underbelly of the Swede "spending-shauung," if you will: the drive to make things kitschy practical, portable, and disposable– preferably in primary colors. H&M and… IKEA.
I instinctively knew IKEA was evil even before ever visiting one. You may say that I’m narrowminded and anti-consumerist. Go ahead, call me a communist, anti-trust, even anti-foreigner. If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than five seconds, you know it’s not true. These colors do NOT bleed, people– and by colors I mean the gold on my American Express. I love to shop and I am not a very picky person when it comes to getting my retail fix: from Wal*Mart to Neiman Marcus, and from … er… Wal*Mart again to the quaintest mom-and-pop store with all one-of-a-kind, I have one simple motto:
"If I like it, it’s a-comin’ home."
I admit I just made that up, but it sums it all up well nicely. My weaknesses are lip balms and shoes, but I am an equal-opportunity shopper. I care about America! America cares about me, because it provides me with Presidents’ Day: a day where we’re supposed to remember past commanders-in-chief but which clearly is designed to extend some of the winter sales by a couple of weeks, and get consumers in mind for spring season. It has nothing to do with Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Washington being February babies, people: it’s all about the spring collections and the clearing of inventory. Please.
(<—-Click here to get into the spirit of things a little more!)
Which is why I am here to tell you just how evil IKEA is.
Have you ever been to an IKEA? Caveat, buckeroo.
IKEA is not for the faint of heart or for those who think that a four-mile hike might end up in cardiac arrest. It is also not for extreme agoraphobics.
It is also not intended for people with an aversion to soft EuroPop blaring out through the speakers or to the scent of Swedish meatballs.
And not intended for people who enjoy their personal space.
The IKEA I visited is only about 20 minutes to the north, but it feels worlds away. For instance, the road that encircles the little place is called "Ikea Way". Somehow they managed to persuade a city government to name the road after their evil little store. Evil.
Everyone who arrives is herded like very obedient little bovines up an escalator and into an endless maze of display rooms which have small niches of items for sale. The displays are at first confusing (is this for sale or…?) but are soon enrapturing and captivating: you want your house to look JUST. LIKE. THAT.
Why can’t I be creative and quirky?
Why can’t I make better use of ledges and shelving?
Is this really 550 square feet? It feels so roomy in here.
I want that kitchen. And that one. And that one too.
I know I’ve always said I hated Danish Modern but…
I know I’ve always said I hated melamine but…
I know I’ve always said I hated metal detailing but…
I know I’ve always said I hated shag rugs made of recycled … this is recycled plastic? Wow! I want two!
And so on. The display floor is an evil, never-ending, cozy, infuriating, and utterly bovine but idea-full honeymoon.
The honeymoon dumps all of us shoppers unceremoniously into the eating area, where the smell of Swedish meatballs has been festering and beckoning the weary labyrinth travelers this whole while.
A decision: meatballs, or…. (gasp!)… the marketplace???
The meatball line was about 2 hours long (this being Presidents’ day, I dearly hope it’s an exception), so off into the netherworld it was.
You know how people don’t like Costco because there are loads of pallets piled high and there are those little machines beep-beep-beep backing up all the time and the lighting is harsh?
And you know how people are always told to stay away from shopping when it’s Christmas?
And furthermore, you know how even in the finest of stores the merchandise gets beaten up like a piñata when there is a sale going on?
Make an evil amalgam of all this: THAT, my friends, doesn’t even come close to the sheer chaos that is the marketplace.
It is a place so vile and so crowded that you lose your shopping purpose; you forget what it is you fell in love with upstairs. You wander (hobble), aimlessly . You spend 10 minutes refocusing your energy:
"…a set of king-sized pillowcases. Pillowcases. Pillowcases. King. Sized."
But even as you lose the battle with your own mind– and the throngs of shoppers all around you– you start making mental notes of all the useless things you think you need (…lights in the shape of birds? …10 generic washcloths for $3? … a tiny, battery-operated milk frother? … a rolled-up travel pillow? … silicone ice-cube trays that make cubes in the shape of clubs?) and you know you’ll return.
You hate yourself, but you will return. Because IKEA is evil and along with the smell of Swedish meatballs (a whole bag, frozen, for less than $4!), they squirt the smell of kitschy practicality– that practicality that keeps these very nice, bland, focused people from going crazy in all that snow.
And by the way: that little battery-powered milk frother is awesome.