Tuesday, November 8, 2005

So I woke up thinking about IKEA ...

This probably means I have some deep-seated psychological issues, but let's talk about that later.

IKEA, which is Swedish for "Simplify your life - buy more stuff," is a fascinating place. But I've been there three times now and I think the bloom is off the rose. As I wandered about (mostly lost) in the cavernous store on Sunday afternoon, I had time to think about the Euro-hip culture as represented by IKEA's little "You can live in 264 sq. ft" spaces. (By the way, the first time I entered one of those tiny havens of organization, I wanted to call a realtor and move in immediately.)

First of all, what do Europeans do with all their stuff? Do they even have stuff? I'm talking about the 36-roll pack of toilet paper from Sam's Club; the 28 rolls of wrapping paper you ended up with after the soccer team's fundraiser; the complete Mary Kay inventory you impulsively bought thinking it would make you look like, well, a Swedish model; the 2 crates of scrapbook supplies and photographs that you're definitely going to work on this weekend, the canape tray that you can't get rid of because you might need it when you start hosting dinner parties; the bowl your husband's grandmother made from pine needles and he won't let you throw it out... Where do Europeans store all that stuff in their impossibly small - but very cool - homes?

Secondly, do Europeans have children, and if they do, where do they keep them? It's cold in Sweden - maybe they all sleep together in one of those contemporary beds with the beautifully patterned sheets. Maybe their kids don't spit up on the duvet. And apparently their kids don't own 1,236,754.2 Legos.

And what's with the names of all this IKEA stuff? Thank goodness the store is mostly self-serve. If I had to ask a clerk for an item, I'm sure I'd come off sounding like the Muppets' Swedish Chef on a Master Card buzz: "Hopen nydal tovik arstid!" (Disclaimer: If I said anything naughty in that last sentence, I didn't know it. Forgive me.)

Finally, I'm pretty sure Swedes don't homeschool. Where would they store all the science kits, the art supplies, the history projects, and the math manipulatives, not to mention the homeschool catalogs?

I ended up not moving into IKEA. All six of us just couldn't fit in that lovely, but too-small, bed. The food for four dogs took up two cupboards in the sleek kitchen, leaving no space for the wheat grinder and my secret stash of dark chocolate. And I realized my fabric and quilting supplies need 264 sq. ft. of their very own.

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