I get my ya-yas at IKEA. You have to put them together yourself, but they cost a little less.
— Chandler, from Friends*
Ok, so when I said in my last post that I was “working” on Part 2 of the Memory Lane series, what I really meant was, “Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about it, I’ve been thinking about it, and I might write it if I feel like it this weekend.” Guess what? I don’t feel like it. Or, I do, but I’d rather talk about my day, because today, I went to two of my favorites stores: Ikea and Costco.
When I was a kid, going to Ikea was a big deal, because they were exclusively in bigger cities, and it was a whole ordeal to get there. Ever since college, though, I’ve not been that far from an Ikea for any length of time, but I still love it. They have so many great things for, like, 59 cents. It’s unbelieveable.
I always end up at the checkout with a cart full of stuff I never intended to buy. Today, for instance, I went in for curtains and curtain rods and to replace the bowl my cat eats out of (the last one broke and he’s been eating out of one of my cereal bowls, which doesn’t match his water bowl, and if you know me, you know that makes me die a little inside every time I feed him). I expected to spend about $30. I left $125 poorer, but I got two chairs for my dining room table (now I can actually eat at it), seat pads for them, three of the bowls my cat eats out of (in case they break again – hey, they really were 59 cents apiece; you can’t beat that), a pot lid rack, a giant poster, some art cards for a frame I’ve been trying to find art for, scented tea lights, some jumbo tealights that match the color scheme in my bedroom (you never know when they’re going to discontinue them), curtains and rods for my bedroom, and a $5 saw (conveniently placed in the store next to the curtain rods I bought, which were 55″ long – perfect for one window, too long for the other – with a sign near them that said “Easy to cut!”)!
If it weren’t for Ikea, I’d have practically no furniture. I outfitted my entire bedroom in my first apartment after college at Ikea for less than $500, and I still use that set. When I moved here, I bought my dining room table from them, and I have more Ikea picture frames and kitchen items than I can count. I love to walk around in there and see all their display rooms; there’s one that’s a whole studio apartment -270 square feet – and it has more cabinet space in the kitchen than I do in 700 square feet. I want to buy all of the rooms, as-is, and make the Ikea people come to my house and set them up exactly the same. Someday.
But. Ikea is nearly always crowded, and that sucks. If you frequent Ikea, you may remember that they have very helpfully laid out arrows on the floor to show IN WHICH DIRECTION YOU SHOULD BE WALKING as you make your way through the showroom. You, there, with the overflowing cart and ankle-biters weaving in and out of people’s way: Must you defy the rules of traffic flow? Why do you insist on walking in the opposite direction of everyone else? I know you started in the same place we all did, so why now are you backtracking? There are no checkouts up here, and very few items to be picked up and placed in your cart (and I promise, you can find all of those few items downstairs. Really. Trust me; I’m an Ikea expert). Stop swimming upstream.
Then I went to Costco. I wasn’t sure what I’d buy, as I live alone and don’t have much storage space, but I was thinking trashbags, soda, and cat food. They didn’t have the size trashbags I needed, but I got soda, cat food, a crapload of good candy for the bowl on my desk at work (I eat almost none of it, and I never see anyone else take any, but it disappears little by little; I like to imagine the cleaning people hanging out in my office after hours, shooting the breeze while sucking on Atomic Fireballs), four pounds (!) of chicken breast tenders, some cereal, some fruit cups for lunches, and some, um, personal items. Between that and the stuff from Ikea, I made 5 trips from my car to my apartment when I got home.
Sadly (Jane, don’t be mad), I did not buy a stainless steel Food Saver (it had everything, all the bells and whistles, and canisters!) for the unbelievably low price of $125. I know it’s a great deal – I’ve priced them, and that model, without the canisters, is usually $160 – and I really wanted to, but I just couldn’t justify it today. Pity me.
The thing about Costco for me is, intellectually, you know you don’t really need a 500-count bottle of vitamins (honestly, if it’s just you taking them, you can’t possibly use them all before they expire), or a ten-pound bag of rice, or a bag of 50 apples, right? But then, you whip out your cell phone, which, conveniently enough, has a little calculator, and you do the math. Those apples? They’re only about 6 cents each or something. You can take a vitamin every day for nearly two years for the low, low price of 4 cents a day! Make all the rice you want for 17 cents a cup! (I am, of course, making these numbers up because I did not buy vitamins, apples, or rice, but Pico eats for 32.2 cents a day, and my Diet Dr. Pepper is only 24 cents a can). It’s seductive. You see the unit price, and you know it’s a good deal, so you buy it even if you don’t really need it. And then you get a hernia carrying it all up three flights of stairs to your apartment.
One day, though, I’m going to have a giant family, and a house with plenty of storage space, and we will shop at Costco weekly, and I will buy 48-packs of toilet paper, and 72-packs of Capri Sun for their lunches, and 500-count bottles of Flinstones vitamins (they can share; we’ll use it up in no time). We will be thrifty and we will save a ton of money. I’m taking applications for a husband who can carry all of that into the house for me.
* Ok, if you read this overnight and are back again, you know I’ve changed the opening quote. Friends just is a better fit for me than Fight Club, but I didn’t remember the quote until this morning. I can’t be sure I’ve got it precisely right, because, shockingly, IMDb doesn’t have this quote on its Friends page, and the only other source I found by Googling was a site in Swedish, and I don’t trust them. Feel free to correct me if you know the right wording, and I’d love to have the episode title that it came from as well.