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Daniel Ruth

Falling apart at the idea of assembly

Recently I asked a neighbor if he knew a reliable electrician who could help me with a minor wiring problem. He began to explain how I could easily do the job myself.

Perhaps it was the look of abject horror on my face when he mentioned turning off the breaker box. I don't do breaker boxes. I'm not into — death.

My neighbor graciously offered to do the job himself, and since he had single-handedly torn down his old house and probably did about 60 percent of the work in building his new home, I figured he knew what he was doing. Whatever he knew, it was more than what I knew, which more than qualified him to handle the task at hand.

"Do you have a screwdriver?" he asked. I had to think for a moment. When I returned moments later with the rusted, cobweb-covered tool, George simply looked at me and sighed, "I guess you don't use these very often."

No, no I don't. The only thing I know about screwdrivers involves vodka and orange juice.

Such is the fate of the Klutz Challenged. For my fellow emergency room patient-in-waiting brethren nothing stirs more fear, more intimidation, more dread than the three most terrifying words in the English language: "Some assembly required."

So it has been with no small amount of puzzled amazement that I have watched all the unrestrained consumer hoopla over the arrival of Ikea to the Tampa Bay retail community, including bizarre scenes of eager customers camping out in front of the new store for days on end prior to its grand opening this week.

Wouldn't this be a bit like fighting to be first in line for an anesthetic-free root canal administered by Vlad the Impaler while being waterboarded?

Wait in line — to buy furniture? What? Were these people worried Ikea was going to run out of stuff in their 8-billion-square-foot warehouse? It's just a guess, but it is probably safe to assume Ikea thought ahead to stock plenty of lutefisk pots.

The marketing pitch associated with Ikea, which is Swedish for "last rites," is that you purchase all manner of fabulous Scandinavian home furnishings, which you must then put together yourself.

Ikea may well be the promised land of home decor for you. It is a house of horrors for me.

Look, there's a reason why the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman's movies are so full of ennui, manic depression, dark, foreboding, suicidal yearnings. He probably had to put his own furniture together.

To be sure, it's a wonderful thing in these dire financial times to have a major international corporation bring some 400 jobs to our fair village. No doubt the trickle-down economic effects of Band-Aid purchases, marriage counseling and voluminous amounts of gin consumption will also see a spike in business.

The last time I attempted to assemble a piece of furniture it involved a bookcase, which afforded our boys the opportunity to learn some new words that would later come in quite handy once they started playing golf.

In the end, the bookcase couldn't have supported a volume of George W. Bush: My Years in the Texas Air National Guard. It is probably not a good thing when a bookshelf more closely resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa meets the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans.

The Bombshell of the Balkans informed me that, tut-tut, I had nothing to fear by patronizing Ikea. All I would have to do was confess to one of the gracious, helpful sales associates that I was more clueless than Jose Canseco getting into the ring with Antonio Tarver and for but a small fee, one of the Ikeans (which sort of sounds like a Star Trek villain) would be thrilled to put our cutting board purchase together for us.

But no man wants to admit they are as helpless as General Halftrack contemplating the D-day invasion plans when it comes to buying (and reconstructing) an entertainment unit.

All the best to Ikea and their legions of Ikeaites, but I still like the idea of walking into a furniture store where everything is put together so can I pretend I know what I'm looking at.

We bought a bed a while back from one of these merchants. It fell apart after a year when I discovered the delivery guys had improperly assembled it. I repaired the problem with about 300 yards of duct tape and the complete works of Ayn Rand to hold up the baseboard.

But I never had to use a screwdriver. It was a proud moment.

Falling apart at the idea of assembly 05/07/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 7, 2009 6:31pm]
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