April 2000

Icky Ikea

I had managed to wriggle out of a friend’s proposed trip to Ikea (the Swedish purveyor of home furnishings) for its opening last week, but was cornered and taken (in the Elizabethan sense), and trying not to take it too badly, took my friend (henceforth, The Instigator) there Saturday afternoon. When we left his place downtown at 5:00, the city streets were crowded. And the freeway! Heavy, heavy traffic. We were halfway to Treasure Island before we got up to the speed limit. Now that I’m not commuting, I’m unaccustomed to this, and joked with my companion that everyone was headed to Ikea. As we got off the freeway in Emeryville and were on surface streets approaching Ikea, the traffic got heavier and heavier. The thought recurred that all these people were headed for Ikea. Ha, ha, we laughed. As we crept toward Ikea’s enormous building, the dialogue took the following turn, paraphrasing my favorite Gary Larson cartoon:

“Looks like a trap,” I said.

“Nonsense,” The Instigator said. “What’s a trap doing way out here in Emeryville?” he said.

It was a trap, alright.

There were Emeryville police at intersections herding us all past the entrances to the parking lot and around a great loop through town but eventually bringing us back to the parking lot entrance from the other direction, where we were permitted to enter. We cruised around like jackals watching for the old or weak, except we were all waiting for burdened people to approach a car. At which point five or six of us would converge upon the prey, each of us firmly convinced that God certainly was absolutely clear that we were the rightful new occupants of the coveted space.

I’m on Prozac to try to calm myself down a bit. It’s working. The irrational and unpredictable bursts of anger are subsiding. Unfortunately, so is my ability to be the alpha jackal.

Luckily, we spotted a sign for supplemental parking and ultimately found a dirt lot way out there and joined the throng of pilgrims headed toward this new shrine.

And inside? Inside, acres and acres of pretty ordinary stuff at reasonable prices, all being examined by hordes of eager shoppers following a well marked trail that led you through all the departments. And here and there, very occasionally, were things that were just astonishingly excellent at unbelievably low prices. The kind of thing that you double and triple check to see whether that’s really the price and start examining closely to see what’s wrong with it. Like a five leg, swiveling, height adjustable, extremely comfortable work chair with well upholstered seat and back. And it was beautifully designed, not a false move anywhere. In several adrenaline-inducing colors for $29.95. I wanted so much to need that work chair.

And then we realized that the trail ahead of us was full of people and that movement had slowed to a creep. We were approaching the checkout lines.

We got home by nine.

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The Mosquito

Finally, after a three-day heat wave, this morning about 3:00, our friend the fog returned to the top of Twin Peaks, brought by a 20 knot zephyr at about 12 degrees C.

While applauding my pinpointing of this event, you may wonder just why I was able to do so. The answer, insomnia, brought on either by my excitement over the impending visit of an old friend or by my having slain, gasp, a mosquito on my laundry porch at dusk and thus lain there naked atop my bed impatiently waiting to be devoured alive before the house cooled off enough that I could shelter under a sheet.

Apparently I killed the only mosquito in the neighborhood that hatched in the brief window of opportunity the heat wave offered. Either that or my constant thrashing about after imaginary bites so exhausted the hovering clouds of mosquitoes that one by one, their famished bodies fell noiselessly to the floor before I finally succumbed to sleep at 3:30 or so.

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