Sunday, July 16, 2006

Strindberg in the Kiddie Room

I'm sure others have written, nay, even blogged on this subject, but going to Ikea is really like being on a different planet. A planet where there are hundreds of objects with weird names whose uses no one can figure out. Is it an olive oil pouring device, or a sugar pouring device? What is this strange thing called a Flargy that looks like a pepper or salt shaker but has no holes on top? What are these giant dark brown ceramic objets that seem awfully scatalogical (pictured in the shopping cart below) actually for? I contended that they were garden ornaments shaped like giant figs and cocoa beans, but my companions remained unconvinced. Why do Ikea chairs have British and Swedish men's names? Jeff, Herman, Nikolaus, Harry, Alexander, Roger, Patrick, Gilbert, Stephan, Jules, and Arvinn. Harry, Roger, Gilbert, Jeff and Patrick (the enlarged cast of Coupling) prefer a pint or two at the local pub, whereas Nikolaus, Stephan, Jules, and Arvinn like Absolut. Whatever you do, don't put these chairs together to watch the World Cup. Of course at Ikea in Quebec you have the added bonus of signage in French, as the picture above illustrates. "Do you know BILLY (the bookcase)?" It asks. Well, that's what the tiny English translation asks. It's really more like "How well do you know BILLY," or "Are you well acquainted with BILLY" or "Have you met BILLY yet?" Well? How long have you and BILLY been dating anyway? Do Jeff, Herman, Nikolaus and Harry know about it?

My Excellent Ikea Adventure took place yesterday, right outside of Longueil, Quebec (or Long-eye-eye-eye-euil, as my friends and I have taken to calling it), in Boucherville, which is not a town inhabited solely by butchers, despite the name, and despite the fact that it will forever be associated with hamburgers and fries for me because the Swedish Meatball cafeteria in Ikea closed early and we had to eat across the parking lot at the "Baton Rouge," where the hamburgers are almost as big as your head and the helpings of fries are twice as big as your head.

Accompanied by two trusty friends, I toured the strange Swedish planet of the cheap, the modern, and the inexplicable. After amusing ourselves by taking photographs of one another posing in the fake bedrooms, living rooms, and apartments on the upper floors, we found what we needed: one cheap foam daybed mattress, several rag rugs, two sets of hangers, an assortment of glass jars, and a folding chair named "Jeff."

By far the most disturbing thing we encountered were the books about Strindberg lying on the vanity table in a fake bedroom obviously meant for a little girl, near a bed adorned with a pink chintz duvet, princess flounces, and mosquito netting. There's just something disconcerting about seeing an analysis of Miss Julie in a child's bedroom.

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