I have a ha-ha-ha piece in the current issue of the Walrus that involves my long-standing bête noire, Ikea. If that isn’t enough semi-disposable humour for you, then you’ll want to also read the following detective noir parody that was supposed to be published in Matrix magazine, for their fan friction issue. Yep, that’s right, I didn’t make the cut at Matrix.
The birch blonde’s name was FLÄRKE. A cute little number – 500.817.44 if I recall correctly. She was 171 centimeters tall, with a tidy 59 centimeter waist, yet she weighed only 19.5 kilograms.
She was a model – a floor model, that is. Covered in fingerprints. But that filthy FLÄRKE would wipe clean with a damp cloth and some non-abrasive cleaner, if you get my drift.
But I flirted with so many others in the showroom that I forgot all about her until I stumbled down a dimly lit alley – aisle 17, row 9 to be exact – and spotted her wrapped in cardboard. Kinky, this one was, waiting for a smooth looking guy with a flatbed cart and a credit card to roll past. Me, in other words.
Oh, she was cheap. Twenty-nine dollars cheap. And more importantly, she would fit into the backseat of my Yaris. So I took a chance on her.
Or was it that she took a chance on me?
That night I slowly removed layer after layer of cardboard and read the manual. There were dowels to be inserted, some screwing, and a variety of contortions and awkward positions required to nail her to my satisfaction.
The next morning we went for $1 breakfast.∗ She barely touched her scrambled eggs, home fries, sausage and miniature croissant. I found her reticence charming. A challenge. Some might have found her pretty plain, sure, but I thought she was plain pretty.
There had been others, of course. ANEBODA 1 and ANEBODA 2, a pair of bedside tables that made the nights less lonely. Those Swedish twins were incredible, but … well, ahem. Then there was a wild redhead named TYLÖSAND that my roommate eventually took off my hands.
And who could forget NIVA, with the dark brown highlights. Somehow we drifted apart, until one day she was outside, at the curb, looking for someone new to pick her up.
There were even a few one night stand tables. Impulse purchases I’m not proud of, paid for with my magic yellow credit card. The next day, with bloodshot eyes, I’d be back at the Returns desk, sheepishly waggling the receipt at the clerk, regret etch-a-sketched across my face.
“I thought it would be different,” I said to the clerk, avoiding eye contact.
“You men are all the same,” she replied. And yet, with a quick swipe, the mistake was erased. Every year, my pressboard skeletons growing more populous in the AS-IS area.
The clerk glanced at my receipt before handing it back. “Here you go Allen. Have a good day.”
Those first few years with FLÄRKE were incredible. She filled a space in my apartment – an otherwise dusty corner near the living room window. My place had been missing something. Something called FLÄRKE. She had an effervescent, quirky personality, like a cool glass of lingonberry soda. There was a GLIMMA in her melamine eyes. She was stacked – full of décor porn and books about buildings and food. We had a clear understanding and appreciation for what each of us brought to the relationship.
And then one bright spring day, I flicked the living room light and saw books scattered across the floor. FLÄRKE was face-down. She had toppled forward, despite the safety bracket that mounted her to the wall. The impact had dislocated the joint connecting her top right corner. She was scratched and bruised pretty bad. Already I could imagine what others might say if they saw her like this.
“I’ve come undone. But you can put me back together,” she seemed to say. “Make it like it was in the beginning.”
I recalled our first night together in the apartment. The initial flush of pleasure and satisfaction. The memory made me smile. But now, passed out on my ULDUM hand-tufted rug, like a common drunk, I wasn’t sure about FLÄRKE anymore. Years of sunlight had faded her birch foil finish.
She was looking old.
“I’m not sure I can put the pieces back together again,” I replied.
I swear I heard her sob.
I grabbed my BOOZY hip flask and took a swig of Svedka. The next few hours weren’t pretty.
Dissembling a long-term relationship never is.
Alone again. My apartment empty without FLÄRKE.
But this time, it’s gonna be different. I’m not going to drive to that big blue whorehouse, or call the 1-866 number or talk dirty with Anna, the personal online assistant. And as for that damn catalogue, it’s no longer hidden underneath my mattress. I finally found the strength to throw it away.
Tomorrow, when the hangover lifts, I’m going to EQ3.
* Served daily until 11am