Monday, August 09, 2010

Of Beds and Men

I am an idiot. I have started off a whole lot of posts that way. But, if you’ve been keeping tabs on me, I think you’ll agree. If not, feel free to laugh at my expense:

I have stabbed myself in the back of my neck with a toothpick. In my sleep.

I have electrocuted myself after shaving.

I have locked myself out of the laundry room, and consequently my apartment, during one of the coldest Swedish winters in recent memory. As I said, I am an idiot.

But the fun thing about idiocy is that it translates well into all languages, and follows you to all countries. And by you, I mean me.

It also turns out that idiocy is an inherited trait.

I just made my move from the comforts of mountains, Colorado, and family, to a flatness that can best be described as Midwestian. I drove past enough corn and soy beans to make me hate vegetarians. I saw asphalt blend into horizon blend into nothingness. But I made it. And I even dragged my old man out with me. This alone does not make him an idiot. It is questionable behavior subjecting oneself to 14 hours of driving through middle America but it is not idiocy in its purest form.

Idiocy in its purest form is arriving at my destination in the great state of Wisconsin, unloading a very packed Saab (obviously), and promptly getting back into the car. Who doesn’t want to drive a bit more after having spent several hours cursing vegetables? Idiocy is knowing that the subsequent drive will result in at least three, possibly four, more hours of mileage. Idiocy is driving to IKEA.

After having moved away from Sweden, I clearly need to surround myself with more Swedishness. And so, my life has now been furnished by IKEA. This probably says more about my fear of change (I am a Republican after all) than it does my idiocy. Depending on your political ideas I suppose that is debatable. But I digress.

It wasn’t until we arrived at IKEA that the idiocy really shone through. The whole point was to get me a bed. I was bedless and darkness was fast approaching. While I enjoy camping, I do not enjoy sleeping on a floor indoors. I’m spoiled like that.

We wandered around, picking up a few necessities along the way. Then we arrived at the beds. I hate buying beds. Mostly because I usually hate lying in beds. They hurt my back. And when testing a bed, I can never lie there long enough to see if it will hurt my back. It is essentially a crap shoot. Or a shit show. Either way there is some sort of scatological description involved.

My dad and I started looking at beds. It was a build-your-own bed buffet. And it was exhausting. That may have had something to do with the driving. And the unpacking. And the more driving. But the different variations were overwhelming to say the least. After about an hour of trying to decipher the code that is IKEA beds, we had a mattress and bed base. The bed base even came with a bed frame. We were ready to go. Which was good because the store kept announcing to us that it was closing in half an hour. Fifteen minutes. Ten minutes.

We made our way downstairs to pick up the pieces of the bed. And that’s when the idiocy came to fruition. We found the mattress. We found the bed base. We did not find the bed frame. It turns out that the bed base did not actually include the bed frame. Which was unfortunate because the store had just announced that it was closing in five minutes. A quick scramble ensued involving an IKEA employee, frantic questions about the lack of bed frame, an explanation that the bed base did not come with the bed frame. His words said “sorry,” his eyes said “idiots.”

Luckily, IKEA is almost idiot-proof. There was a large bed frame on the end of the aisle. An endcap display if you will. And it was the right size. And it was relatively cheap. And so we grabbed it. And ran. The store had long ago announced that it was closed.

So my father and I went to the cashier. I stood in line. My father ran to the food section and bought four 50 cent hotdogs. They were delicious.

Several hours later than expected, we headed out. We called my mom. You know, to report on what we had done. You know when you do something stupid and your parents aren’t really mad, just disappointed? My mom wasn’t mad, she was just disappointed. As I explained our predicament, and the money spent, she just sighed. Finally, “that’s why you don’t buy a bed from IKEA.” It was reminiscent of the time my dad and I bought bananas at the grocery store for a price which we thought was spectacular. It was not. We were chided for our inability to buy bananas, much like we were chided for our inability to buy a bed.

But a couple of days later, the bed is put together, everything fits in my room, and my back isn’t sore. Well, not too sore at least.

Welcome to Swedish-America. And my transatlantic idiocy.

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  1. Never disappointed in you, just "surprised" at the choice perhaps? Not to mention after all that you got a size differnt from the size of sheets that you had brought with you!! Well, glad you have a good bed anyway!

  2. PS
    The bananas were ridiculously expensive that time!!

  3. Oh, Hairy. You make me laugh! Wisconsin huh? I hate that we missed each other in Stockholm because I know you would have been such fun :)

  4. haha @ mamma :)
    You know, next time, Harry, try Craigslist first maybe. Not sure around that area, but here close to Portland's IKEA you can find nice, almost new beds on craigslist at any given time. USUALLY closer than 3-4 hours away from your current home.... hehee.. you just had to go the Swedish route. Btw, incredibly un-swedish to drive that far. (You didn't even take a train???)

  5. Jo, de där majs- och sojabönfälten känner jag till! Hoppas du är nöjd med din säng! Bra att du (och pappa?) rapporterade till mamma! :) Lakanen var det påslakan? Min amerikanske pojkvän kände inte till sådana!! Jag köpte ganska snabbt sådana till honom, men jag är inte säker på att han förstått att uppskatta dem!? JAG tycker de är mycket praktiska - och hygieniska!

  6. oh and by the way i think the more exact words from your mother were, "do they not sell any beds in Wisconsin, you have to go to Chicago to IKEA to find a bed?"

  7. Hairy Swede,

    I completely understand the draw of Ikea. You love to hate it and hate to love it.

    I actually still live in Sweden:-) I live in an apartment built by Ikano, owned by Ikea. And virtually all of my furniture is Ikea.

    But you haven't experienced it until you've fought with your partner over a couch or a plastic container or a light fixture.

    I've always said they should put a divorce section with a judge in Ikea so people could easily get divorced.

    Here's to many fun nights on your Ikea bed!

  8. Dear Friend Hairy,

    It's a good and well told story, as usual. I hate to correct a fellow writer in public (nonetheless I am about to do it, so I guess I really don't hate to do it):
    "I can never lay there long enough..." is not the correct form of the transitive verb 'to lie.'
    Yer cousin contacted us, so I guess we'll have a bit of you with us at the next book discussion, pal.

    Hej då,

  9. @mamma – yes surprises is a parental euphemism for disappointed. Its ok.

    The bed sheets will stretch. Eventually.

    And P.S. lets not hold a grudge.

    @Girl in Stockholm – well I wouldn’t want to get too far away from the Scandinavian culture. Wisconsin is kind of like a halfway house for Swedish Americans moving back to the US. Especially fun ones like me.

    @mamman – I buy a lot of stuff used. A bed is the one thing I have always refused to buy used. It just kind of grosses me out.

    And the train thing… youre right, I was in a hurry. There were only a few hours left until I was sleeping on the floor.

    @Karin – påslakan! I love them, but right now it is too hot too even consider having one on the bed, but I did of course bring them back with me. And I agree, they are amazing.

    @mamma – I cant even quote my mother correctly. Further proof of my idiocy.

    @Gabriel – well said. And good to hear that you are still living in that heavenly hell that is IKEA.

    A couple years ago there was an article on the local about divorce, H&M and IKEA being related. I wrote a quick response to it since I was so entertained by it all:

    And thanks for the well wishes for my bed, Ill need them.

    @Ron – even more proof to strengthen my first sentence. Good catch. It has been updated. My mom caught a few mistakes also. Clearly not my finest editing.

  10. "surprised" is NOT a euphemism for "disappointed"! Big difference!

  11. "Americaneska pojklyvan"??? Excuse me Mr. Hairy, I realize I'n being awfully rude, but Karin? That's not you is it, Cutie Sweetie Snuggy Bjorn? Do you read this blog?? Really? It's some other Karin right? It's not you and you don't happen to be going on to this poor Hairy guy about how much more wonderful duvet covers are than American blankets, do you? Or whatever they're called in Swedish? Tacke or whatever? That giant pillowcase with buttons you got me that takes less than an hour to get my blanket inside of? I'd call you but it's six in the morning there and you still need to sleep. :* Yes I do just LOVE my duvet cover or tack or whatever it is, thanks. SO much! Jag ar mycket nojd med det! Men inte lika mycket som jag ar med er. :* :* :* hug hug hug bye talk real soon :* Steve

  12. I don't get it. Where would you buy a bed if NOT at IKEA?! And I love the påslakan conversation and Karin being caught out by bf Steve - classic!

  13. Hej,
    Is the name of the blog gonna change? A Swedish American in America? A Swedish American in Swedish American? An American Swedish in Swedish America?

  14. Well well, the Blogg has a new name.

    Maybe you should honour the new name and write one post på svenska. C'mon, just one tiny post?!?


    ps. and please don't hate vegetarians. That would be, hmmm, idiocy :)

  15. @mamma – agree to disagree?

    @anonymous – this is glorious.

    @terander – outside of the confines of Sweden, beds are sold in all kinds of different stores. Although, clearly IKEA is the way to go.

    @asazevedo – yes, the blog will be called a Swedish American in Swedish-American. I realized I hadn’t changed the top title despite having changed the welcome to Sweden to welcome to Swedish-America. Im a little slow sometimes.

    @anonymous – maybe. We’ll see how im feeling. But to be perfectly honest, Im even more boring in Swedish.

    @asazevedo – indeed.