Artificially Swedened

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If there’s a name for the style in which my apartment is decorated, it’s Homeless Person Squatting in an Abandoned Tenement. This is fine with me. Sure, I could spend thousands of dollars on nice furniture and decor. But on the other hand, no I couldn’t, because I don’t have thousands of dollars. I have the essential items — bed, chair, table, piano, life-size plastic dog, Ron Burgundy bobblehead doll, flashlight, etc. — and I’m happy with that.

Or at least I thought I was happy. Then an Ikea store opened in Portland and I realized how truly miserable I was.

It is a major event whenever the Swedish furniture juggernaut deigns to opens a new store somewhere, and Portland was no exception. Everyone caught Ikeamania! People lined up to be among the first shoppers. Local news agencies covered the story from the angle of “Boy, there sure are a lot of people excited about this!,” and of course that coverage gave Ikea free advertising, which resulted in more people getting excited about it, which made the news agencies cover the story even more fervently, and the circle of life continued.

I did not visit the new Ikea right away, preferring to wait until the crowds of zealots had finished their pilgrimages before I braved it. In the meantime, I began to notice things about my apartment that I should probably improve. For example, there was no place to sit. I mean, I had chairs at the kitchen table, but when it came to relaxing and having guests over for conversation, all I had was my ugly yellow chair and the LoveSac. The LoveSac will comfortably hold two occupants, but they must be occupants who are very familiar with each other and like to cuddle. That minimizes the potential guest list.

So I decided it was time to buy a couch to replace the one I’d given away when I moved here from my last apartment. Unfortunately, given the size of my current space, and the size of the LoveSac (i.e., gigantic), I knew I could not have both. Getting a couch would mean getting rid of the LoveSac.

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A LoveSac (not mine).

O LoveSac! I purchased you six years ago, almost to the day, because you were new and innovative and comfortable! And also because Luscious Malone and Tanny Tantan talked me into it, even though I couldn’t afford you! Your dear price remained on my credit card balance for months, maybe years!

O LoveSac! How many hours did Luscious or Tanny or I or some combination of us sit upon you? How many guests at Oscar parties and other gatherings rushed to re-shape you with their own buttocks before you were claimed and re-shapen by another?

O LoveSac! When my other friend Lisa was pregnant, which was usually, she preferred to fling her bloated self onto you more than any other piece of furniture, because only you, LoveSac, adjusted to fit the contours of her massive body, cradling her like a womb — like the very womb which inside her then was heavy-laden!

O LoveSac! I am sorry to have gotten rid of you so unceremoniously via Craigslist, where less than two hours after posting my ad I was shoving you into the back of some soccer mom’s SUV. Surely you deserved a better fate than to wind up in a suburban teenage boy’s bedroom, where heaven only knows what indignities will befall you.

I salute your memory, LoveSac. You were indeed a sac of love.

* * *

Before Luscious Malone and I made our trip to Ikea, I went online and determined exactly what I wanted to buy. I didn’t want to make any impulse purchases. My impulses are not to be trusted.

In addition to the most inexpensive love seat Ikea sells, I had my eye on a new desk and bookcase. My current desk was massive and cheap, having been purchased at Wal-Mart in 2001 and already starting to disintegrate, while my bookcase, though slightly newer and from Pier 1, had always been flimsy and precarious. I didn’t exactly need a new one — it’s not like the books were actively falling off the shelves — but hey, Ikea has a bookcase for $19.99. At those prices, I couldn’t afford not to buy one!

Luscious and I test-drove all these items in the Ikea showroom and found them acceptable. Of course, one of the fun things about Ikea is that they give their products made-up Swedish-sounding names. So my love seat was actually called a klobo, my desk was a johan, and my bookcase was a flärke. The klobo, johan, and flärke are sturdy, well-designed pieces of furniture, and like all of your finest furniture, they come in a box and you have to put them together. That’s how it’s possible to make impulse buys at Ikea. You’re about to check out and you think, “Hey, you know, I should grab a box of bed before I go.”

But I was strong and did not buy anything not on my list. Klobo, johan, flärke, that’s it. OK, and a footstool, because it was only 20 bucks, and I’d been putting my feet up on a stereo speaker. So klobo, johan, flärke, and solsta pällbo, that was it. Sure, I was tempted by the pflüng, and the poorg, and the velm, and the jarkolg, and the glaven — who doesn’t need a glaven? — but I remained steadfast. It takes more than just a handsome and stylish klarng to make me go off my budget!

With some wrangling, we got all the stuff into Luscious Malone’s Jeep and from there into my apartment, where I spent the rest of the day assembling it like the brawny man I am. I had to get rid of my old desk and bookcase, too. The bookcase wasn’t worth trying to sell, so I just set it outside on the curb, where it disappeared within an hour, probably because someone thought they were stealing it. The desk was even more worthless, so I took it apart and put the individual pieces in the garbage can. That I was able to do this at all was proof of the desk’s shoddiness. As a rule, you should not be able to dismantle a major piece of furniture with your bare hands.

And now, suddenly, my apartment is more homey and inviting! It has been Ikeacized, at least partially, and already I feel more like having guests over for a book club or a fondue party. Or both! Why not! The sky’s the limit, now that there’s an Ikea in town! Am I going to take full advantage of it? You bet your klärb I am.

There are two additional jokes that I would have made in this column if I were still writing in Utah for a mostly Mormon audience. One would have been to compare people's reaction to a new Ikea being built to their reaction when a new temple is built: "We used to have to travel so far, and now there's one nearby! We're so blessed!" And so on. That joke would have been hilarious.

The other joke would have been to say that since the LoveSac can only seat two people if they cuddle with each other, it doesn't really work for when the home teachers come by. That joke, too, would have been hilarious.

If you are unacquainted with the joys of the LoveSac, you can peruse the website here. They have stores across the country now, but the very first one -- and the one where I bought mine -- was at the Gateway in Salt Lake City. The inventor of the LoveSac was a University of Utah grad.

In addition to being a loyal LoveSac customer, I was at one point almost an employee. Someone from their offices in Salt Lake City contacted me a few years ago about possibly writing a regular "Snide Remarks"-type column for their newsletter. The idea wasn't that the column would be about LoveSacs, but that it would be generally amusing to the types of people who own LoveSacs, i.e., um, regular people, I guess. I met with a LoveSac guy at their SLC headquarters (where much of the office furniture is indeed LoveSac-based) and discussed it, but they wound up going a different direction with the newsletter. I note that their website could still use a good copy editor, so maybe they'll hire me for that.

If you are curious to know what my new Ikea stuff looks like, here's the klobo, the johan, the flärke, and the solsta pällbo.

Throwing around a lot of fake Scandinavian-sounding words makes me feel like Rose on "The Golden Girls." Anyone else have the same sensation? Anyone?

SnideCast intro and outro: "Dancing Queen," by ABBA.

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