I think it should be a requirement that all happy families pay a visit to IKEA – extra credit for a weekend outing, and double extra credit if it’s because you are frantically furnishing a room for a baby arriving in less than three weeks. Really, there’s nothing quite like it to guarantee an abrupt end to that sickening lovey-dove behavior you’ve been exhibiting up until now. Besides, forget those wedding vows you made to each other, if you can handle a visit to IKEA, you’ve proven you can handle anything. Pulling out of the parking lot without intentionally leaving your spouse on the curb or trading your toddler for a plate of day-old Swedish meatballs equals success in my book!! With a formula of eight digit numbers and products you can’t pronounce, organized in aisles and bins stashed in a warehouse the size of the Grand Canyon, I ask you: What could go wrong? You know it’s a bad sign when, in order to survive, IKEA staff is handing you pads of paper and tiny pencils like you are about to take the SATs on a mini-golf course.
I bet you can’t guess where we went this past weekend? After a lovely relaxing Friday night consisting of homemade pepperoni pizza and finally watching our latest Netflix movie mailed to us in October, we spent Saturday AND Sunday morning tooling around IKEA like a bad middle-class cliché, buying a two EXPEDIATs, a HEMMNES and several KASSETs, or bookcases, a baby dresser and trash cans to the uninitiated. We also spent a bit of time at Buy Buy Baby, which we saw while passing a freeway exit. Nothing like shouting to your partner while cruising at 70 mph in the fast lane on an unfamiliar freeway: “Exit here, Exit here! A baby store, I bet they have cribs!” While I efficiently sought out a place for the impending new family member, J chased Daisy around the store as she wildly tore items off the shelves. When exiting the store (listening to the cheering and clapping of the team members charged with Hurricane Daisy clean-up), several hundred dollars poorer, J looked at me and innocently asked: IS this what they mean by Terrible Twos?
IKEA and Buy Buy Baby are funny places. Nothing will make you feel more like a suburban grown-up than a weekend visit with your significant other and toddler. There you will find five hundred other families, all identical to you, arguing over sofa beds, or shelving units or changing tables and chasing their whining children around the store. While pulling out of the IKEA parking lot, congratulating ourselves on a job well done, I looked at J and said that I hoped I didn’t step in an IKEA for a long time. He reminded me that we never did find the BJURSTA.