Tag Archive | ranting

Zen and the Art of Desk Shopping

danish for you

While I mainly go to IKEA for the umlauts and other groovy punctuation, it’s those… how shall we say it? “Other People” that ruin the continental flair and experience.

For your consideration: I find myself in need of a new desk (don’t ask… that story, my friend, will be in the book), and, being on a budget (read as “I draw shit for a living and seriously re-live my vocational missteps every hour on the hour”), well, Scandanavian press board and clinical depression are my decorating themes. Some dudes build cool cars and wear $400 shades. I cry a lot and build my furniture with really small Allen wrenches. But that’s not the (whole) point here. Anyway, fitting some European Shopping Extravaganza into the day requires some planning. Ours went like this:

“Mmm… that was good dinner. Hey, you know that lean-to that I call a desk? The crunching noises from within have grown louder, and my monitor is showing a serious starboard list. I’m about out of room to prop more mailing tubes and boxes under it. I fear for my life, if not my legs.”

“Let’s get you a new desk. By selling your body last weekend, we have almost enough gas money to get there and 2/3 of the way home. Do it three more times, and we can get blueberry waffles next time.”

Off we head, post meal-time to IKEA, getting there about an hour before closing. Enough time to round up the 89 separate, but flat-packed boxes that make up the desk top and leg-like fixtures (no, we didn’t opt for the “In This Combination” serving suggestion, as we don’t have anything nice enough to display on some fancy “shelf”). We’re headed to the check-out in record time. Mind you, I’m enjoying the shit out of the near-empty store, and still managing to get caught behind the slowest walking human being on the planet. It did give me time to check out a lamp that looked eerily like my Grandma’s bathrobe, though.

We arrive at the checkout, and I quickly move to the register with only one customer, completing her purchase. Score!

“Not so fast!!” booms the universe. “…and don’t bother to bend over or remove your pants. I’ll just have my way with you as you are.” The universe and I have a sort of thing like that. I exist, it treats me like its bitch.

For whatever reason, this customer ahead of me has identified an issue, and is making the plans to fix it. By now, the line next to us has grown to a near half-million souls. Or at least eight bodies, three possibly holding souls, one not of their own. But I digress. This customer is now having the cashier contact some department. Now, you’d think that, at damned near 8:30 PM on a Monday night (a Monday night with an eclipse, no less!) that this woman would really have her shit together. I mean, she obviously had a list and some design sense, considering the mish-mash of random shit she threw in her cart, so this question must be of burning importance. I mean, she looked kinda all-together.

While we never did find out what the issue was, we did, however, spend ten minutes watching the situation unfold, and saw not only the inter-departmental phone get used a couple of times, but a cell phone was brought into the endeavor, and at one point, a slide rule. You could hear, literally, the cashier’s soul breaking into a thousand splinters of sorrow. Ironically, that is my family crest: A thousand broken splinters of sorrow on a field of blue tears.

Now… the point here is that in any normal place of business, someone would have said “Hey! What say you step on over to the Customer Service Desk (“Boopinscorpin Skeepinskoobin” for those of you who speak Swedelandish), and have them try to figure out just what in the fuck it is that you’re making so complicated. I mean, after all, look around. This place ain’t exactly the Engineering Lab at MIT. Our motto here is, um… something in Swedish or Danish or some shit, but I’m betting it has to do with shutting the fuck up and going over to Customer Service so that this line can get a move on. Thanks, and try the meatballs! Oh, wait, you can’t, because you took so long with whatever the fuck the problem was, and now the restaurant is closed! You’ve ruined it for everyone. Tell your cats we said hello.”

Suffice to say, dejected customer lady scowls off, and we manage to check out with only the issue of me having to move the pushy broad behind me back enough to actually scribble something illegible on the credit card thingie (“Kredishmoopoo Florgin”, again, for those of you speaking the language of the muppet chef), and complete said transaction in less than three minutes.

In conclusion (or, as the foreign would say, “Fin”), we managed to traverse the Valley, find our purchase and make it to the register in record time, only to be right back in our rightful place on the moebius strip. Right behind Jane Q. Slowwalker and her confused friend Ingrid. Moral of the story: Adopt some Zen into your workplace, and do without the fucking desk.

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Bored Housewife Typhoon

Do you really need a fake lobster trap filled with whimsical stuffed sea horses and dried flowers hanging in your kitchen? If it matches the bedazzled broken coffee cup mosaic of two kittens looking at a fishbowl you sure do.

Bored Housewife Typhoon.

Yep. Sounds like a pretty cool name for an Enya cover band, but it is, in fact, a name I had coined some time back to describe a certain style of interior, ummm…. decor.

You’ve seen it, I know you have.

You get invited to someone’s home, and, from the exterior, anyway, it looks nice enough. Normal landscaping, up-kept, nice. Then you enter, and holy shit, Batman…. it’s like a flea market collided with the Roy Rogers traveling museum display inside of a Cracker Barrel as a QVC marathon lumbered on during “Craft Week” at the county fair, while women wearing long, floral-patterned skirts and sweatshirts with silly ironed-on cats look at beaded hair clips created from old wicker baskets, telephone parts or rubber bands covered in old underwear cut to look like either fringe or, well, like my current pair of undies. There’s useless, decorative shit everywhere. I mean fucking EVERYWHERE. It’s as if they took hostage the interior decorators of Chili’s, fed them meth and crack for week, and handed them a box of nails and a Michael’s gift card.

What is it, exactly, that attracts people to purchase fake relics from farms, factories, old houses? I don’t mean actual tools or doors from an eighteenth-century brownstone in Boston, but newly-made, vacuum-molded props like a garden hoe or a plastic replica of a bear trap or some vase that looks like it came from some Hindu temple, but is made of styrofoam covered in glitter and was bedazzled by some seven year-old  in a basement sweat shop in Bangladoor? Who is honestly going to believe that, above your IKEA futon, and scattered amongst your collection of Twilight paperbacks and Wal-Mart throw pillows, that you have a priceless artifact? That you took time to go on an archaeological dig in the lost tomb of Emperor Zhang-Wha-Shing from the second dynasty, and now display his ceremonial headdress along-side a broken TV remote and a dime-store prop photo of you and three friends headed over Niagara Falls in a barrel? At least put some effort into it. Grab that old muffler from the side of the road, and make a lamp from it. Have a story to tell, other than ‘Jeanie saw it there in Hobby Lobby and just had to have it. She added the fake pearls. She’s really creative, you know?’

No. No, I don’t know.

And please don’t try to explain it. I think that Jeanie is possibly brain damaged, and that you can do much better when selecting your next mate, and I’m happy with the conclusion I’ve arrived at.

Yet, there you are.

You’re overwhelmed. Your essential observatory senses crash from the input. The smells of potpourri and candles collide with Glade Fart-Be-Gone misters… your eyes attempt to take in eleven thousand needlepoint crafts. The paint-by numbers canvas boards framed with twigs and shit that most landscapers throw out. You’re being poked in the arms by peacock feathers arranged near giant silk sunflowers. Plates depicting some war between a French dude holding a beaver pelt, a pirate, and some guy that’s either manning an Indian trading post or opening a pizza parlor just off the coast of Zanzibar on a crudely-constructed raft, or maybe an island that has other-worldy vegetation and things that might be Moai, might be just fat tourists burying one another in the sand (which, coincidentally,  the ‘artist’ has cleverly created using marshmallow and crushed Rice Krispies), which would look almost real, if not for the clock face drilled just below the storm clouds and stuck at 4:37… Meanwhile, you gaze in awe at the creative genius that brings someone to use a quilt as drapes, just as the cuckoo clock chimes in with some bluegrass standard as an eerily, anatomically-correct miniature of Dolly Parton dressed as the Easter Bunny and holding a taco twirls around. (Speaking of bluegrass, I have a theory that in a parallel universe, there never was any funk music, and thus, all porn has a soundtrack filled with banjos and jugs and that weird rubber band thing between the the three teeth that the player hasn’t yet relegated to his shirt pocket, which is just ever-so-slightly more creepy if you’ve ever fallen asleep watching Deliverance, and then wakened in the middle of Bound as I once did while suffering a flu.) Yet, above the mish-mash of utter ‘holy PBS mid-morning-craft-show-gone-fucking-haywire’ that is bombarding your senses, you marvel at how many kinds of plastic fruit one soul can purchase without a license. Apples, pears, grapes, melons, guava, durian, scale figurines of Richard Simmons. All there, like some Twilight Zone-esque world of torture from the lost episode “The Man Who Loved Fruit”. It tempts… yet, you can’t partake. Fuck.

What drives anyone to make their house look like this?

Boredom.

A genetic predisposition to waste money on fake foliage and small Grecian columns. Insanity, perhaps… but I’m leaning more towards boredom. My theory used to be that if you leave anyone alone for too long, and subject them to a life of cleaning products, daytime TV, and modern conveniences, they begin to crack, and yearn for a simpler time. Yet, over time, I realized that if this were true, you’d have homes decorated like the set of Gilligan’s Island, or maybe a cave. However, as I’ve devoted many hours while semi-conscious to thinking this through, I’ve come to blame Michael Landon. I blame him for that damn Little House show, which, when viewed by girls at the right age, plants the seed of “Country Home Decor”. I’d also blame Cracker Barrel, but damn you, your corn bread is too tasty to hold a grudge. Fortunately, I am not tortured by this illness in my home. My wife rarely watched that show, opting instead for the Three Stooges, which is great, as I am an artist, and thus too poor to afford decoration. And beyond the poking in the eye, wedgies and constant threat of being bopped in the head with a novelty-sized mallet, it’s worked out quite well.

However, if you are so plagued, I offer a remedy:

First, you must gather all of the decorative crap hanging in the home, and make a pile in the covered wagon that decorates your back yard. Set it on fire, only saving the Trigger and friends commemorative plate and a pie-shaped splinter from your barn door cabinets, and return to your kitchen. There, use elbow macaroni to fashion a crude ouija board on the plate, using the splinter as a pointer, and summon Landon, asking him to release the hold he has placed on your wife, and to say hi to Elvis for me.

Then break the plate, and bury it under a copy of Architectural Digest.

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