Friday, June 02, 2006

Ikea: 2, Dignity: 0

I’ve moved into my new apartment, and it’s just as cute as I could ever want. It's bright and sunny and really small, meaning that by comparison I feel like Godzilla.

However, I’ve discovered something troubling: I don’t own anything. When I got married, I more or less assumed it was a permanent arrangement. So I gave away most of my household stuff. Therefore, it’s been my patriotic duty as an American to spend a bunch of money that I don’t necessarily have on things I’m not sure if I really need.

I managed to purchase a few items off of Mike and Erin, meaning that I have a secondhand Ikea TV stand. (Nothing symbolizes post-divorce socioeconomic decline like secondhand Ikea). Then Worth took me to Target, where I spent $274 on stuff that every 19-year-old in America already has. Who knew you could spend so much money on forks and trash cans? The worst part was maneuvering the cart out to the car. The full-length mirror fell off the cart, dragging along the ground and shooting sparks for about 10 minutes before we figured out what that godawful noise was. Sccccrrrrrrrraaaape!

Then there was Ikea. If you ever want to be feel inferior to Sweden, then Ikea is the place for you. Kevin and I made an epic trek out there last weekend. I again spent almost $300, but this time it was on balcony furniture, a nightstand, and a bunch of kitchen stuff. All of it came neatly packed in microscopic boxes, meaning I had no conception of how much I had actually purchased until I got it all home.

For those of you who live in the non-Ikea hinterlands, the central idea of the place is that you buy cheap, Scandinavian semi-disposable particleboard crap that you assemble yourself. It's a money/time exchange: what you save in cash you lose in time and frustration. I decided that as a strong, independent woman, I could easily assemble the furniture myself. Never mind that I have no mechanical ability, am totally incapable of following directions, and don’t own a toolkit. (A toolkit is on my neverending list of Things to Buy.) I’ll borrow some tools and kick some butt.

First, there were the folding chairs for my balcony. Oh, the chairs. The first chair came out OK, except that I put the seat on backwards. The second chair refused to budge from its folded position (note to self: next time, don’t kick the wrench to make sure the bolts are tight enough).

The third chair broke me. The thing wouldn't go into the other thing, meaning I couldn't screw on the doohickey, no matter how hard I whacked the doohickey with a hammer. This started a chain-reaction freakout. I can't assemble furniture. I am totally incapable of taking care of myself. I'm weak and incompetent and stupid. I'm doomed to die alone. No, I'm doomed to die alone here in my little apartment, and no one will discover my body for weeks. I'll be eaten by my 50 cats, all of whom will be wearing little cat sweaters that I painstakingly knitted for them. No, I'm going to die alone under a bridge, in an old refrigerator, and no one will find my body until spring thaw.

After 15 minutes of free-association doom and gloom, I snapped out of it. I decided that the third chair could wait its turn, and I would move on to the fourth. The fourth chair practically assembled itself, which did wonders for my confidence. I even managed to put together a table and a nightstand without too much drama. (Well, except for when I put the nightstand drawer in upside-down, thereby diminishing its storage potential. But that was easily rectified. And I didn't cry.)

So, I assembled furniture myself. It wasn't even on my to-do list, so I feel like I achieved some self-sufficiency extra credit. I rock, I rule, I govern the known universe with an iron fist of coolness.

And as for Evil Chair #3? I got a guy to fix it. All it took was a beer and a few manly elbow jabs.(Thanks, Damien!) Hey, no woman is an island, and sometimes it's OK to ask for help.

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