About 2 years ago IKEA opened a store in downtown St. Louis. It was as if the Pope had opened a new Sistine Chapel on Vandeventer Avenue. That’s what it’s like living in St. Louis. These people get all excited about a new furniture store. And yet they can’t keep a Major League Football team around.
Unlike the maddening masses, I did not rush out to check out the new IKEA. For one thing, I don’t need any shelves. For another, I’m not all that interested in looking at furniture. Third, I knew it would be crazy crowded because, really, what else are people in St. Louis going to do? And finally, it’s downtown, and I only go downtown for shows at the Fox and the occasional visit to Forest Park and the Zoo.
Still, I admit I was curious. We even contemplated going there one weekend when I had family in town, but then we thought of something better to do. So, when co-workers Amy and Leah were discussing going to IKEA on Saturday morning so that Leah could buy plates and silverware, I invited myself along. They pretended “that would be wonderful!” and we agreed to meet at 8:30 a.m.
(Now you may think it rude that I invite myself to join other people’s outings — and it is — but here’s the thing: if I hadn’t invited myself to join Rob Smith’s college church group spring break trip to Washington, D.C., I never would’ve met my wife. So basically, if you don’t want me to attend your function, don’t let me know about it.)
Now, I wasn’t 100 percent sure I would be able to join in because I had trivia the night before and that means getting home late and I certainly wasn’t going to set an alarm to get up early on Saturday to go to IKEA, so I told them if I overslept to go without me. But I don’t oversleep anymore because I now sleep with a face-hugging, air-blowing monster on my head (more on that later) that causes me to wake up screaming every morning around 5 a.m.
I get to the office around 8:15 and soon we’re piled into Leah’s vehicle and on the road. (I wouldn’t have gone if I had to drive, besides, Leah keeps a rock in her car so I felt pretty safe against any downtown thugs.) We did at one point pass a truck with what appeared to be bullet holes all along the side. Leah was intrigued but I advised her not to draw attention to ourselves. Why I had to point that out, I do not know.
We arrived just as the place was opening. The parking lot was fairly empty, a state it would not be in for long. Our first stop was breakfast at the cafeteria. Jonathan had got me all excited the day before by informing me that IKEA offers a $1 breakfast. I was later informed it was a $2 breakfast. Turns out they had both, but we all decided to splurge and ordered the $2 breakfast. Then we blew almost the same amount of money on a glass of lingonberry juice. Still, can’t complain about a pretty decent $4 breakfast.
After breakfast — shopping! I was told not to fall behind but there was little chance of that happening given that I don’t stop to look at stuff. I knew to expect dawdling because I’ve shopped with women before, and my wife is a champion dawdler. She would’ve easily spent an hour just in one section.
So what can I say about IKEA? It was everything I dreamed it would be — it was a furniture store. A well designed and attractive furniture store, but still … furniture. It was basically Bed, Bath and Beyond on a larger scale. They had some neat lighting items and some funky cabinets but really, who cares? If I need new home fixings, I’ll send Laurie out to buy them. We wandered about for almost 2 hours and Leah found her dishes and silverware and Amy bought a few things. I occasionally found furniture displays where I could stop and rest my weary bones.
The later it got, the more crowded it got. The arrow-lighted pathway that guides you through the place started to turn into a forced march if you stayed on the path (and you really should stay on the path). By the end it felt like we were cattle walking through a chute on our way to slaughter. Turned out it was just the check-out aisles.
They had a large display of cinnamon buns right before the check-out aisles, and since I didn’t have anything to show for my outing, and since my son loves cinnamon buns (and who could possibly make better cinnamon buns than IKEA?), I decided to pick up a six-pack. On the way out the door, Amy and Leah decided they wanted frozen yogurt cones.
“Are you sure you should be eating a frozen yogurt cone while driving on Highway 40?” I asked.
“I don’t see the problem,” Leah responded.
I’m pretty sure the next time Amy and Leah decide to do anything, they won’t talk about it in my presence.