When Nicky returned from Monte Carlo, the apartment was almost spotless but the fridge was bare. I ate the majority of what was in there so we had to make a run to the grocery store over the weekend. We headed to Whole Food across the street from The Grove.
We had a list. Actually, I had a list and Nicky had hers which we wrote on the same piece of paper. Nicky is a slow shopper and that drives me utterly insane and on the brink of suicide. I'm an in and out kinda shopper. No bullshit. No lingering. I make a bee-line for what I want and then run to the register. I'll trample over blue hairs in walkers and stomp on small children if I have to. I just wanna get the fuck out of those massive stores with long aisles and bright lights. And the higher that I am, the less patience that I have with the entire process shopping and that entire drawn out drama that involves lining up. Unnecessary waiting destroys my patience and sends me off the edge and especially when the min-wage check-out flunkies are slower than slow.
We wandered into Whole Foods which was crowded with weekend pre-dinner shoppers. We divided up once we arrived into the fruits and vegetable section. I needed grapes and bananas. I rarely shop for food in grocery stores, but even I can tell the difference in the quality of fruit from Whole Foods and what I'd get from Ralph's down the street or from the Korean fruit stand in Derek's neighborhood.
I snatched up a bag of grapes and whirled around. I bumped into a young woman and quickly apologized. She said not to worry about. That's when I recognized her. I couldn't figure out who she was. An actress? In that part of town it was entirely possible. I wandered away baffled and picked out a batch of bananas. She and a friend stood behind me inspecting lemons. My inability to know who she was continued to bother me as I left the fruit section and wandered into the spices section. I grabbed a small bottle of dry Jamaican jerk spice. I suggested spicy chicken breasts to Nicky and she approved.
I wandered over to the frozen section and looked for some organic ice cream as I continued to smash my brain apart figuring out who the hell that chick was. I kept thinking "Monte Carlo" when I pictured her face. I was in Monte Carlo a year ago for a poker tournament. I didn't recognize her from the poker industry as a member of the media, or as a player, or a player's girlfriend.
I found Nicky and I tagged along with her to make sure she got the remaining items on her list and didn't lallygag. During checkout, the same girl was in the lane next to us, and I still couldn't figure out who she was. Jesus Christ, it was fuckin' killing me.
That's when I gave up and asked Nicky to step in. She connected the dots for me. The girl was an actress named Emily Van Camp. She had stint on a WB teen drama called Everwood and Treat Williams played her dad. Then the Monte Carlo connection finally became clearer for me. I caught two episodes of her show in my hotel room in Monte Carlo. It had French subtitles and I watched it while I ate an overpriced $50 room service breakfast consisting of cold toast, runny eggs, and barely cooked bacon. It's weird how my mind instantly flashed back to Monte Carlo when I saw her face. Memory is a fascinating entity.
Nicky needed a few things for the apartment since Showcase left. That meant a trip to Ikea. I had never been to Ikea before. I have been to Sweden, but never to Ikea. I have thumbed through their catalogues and put together some of their products that friends and/or family have purchased, but I have never set foot into one of those mega-stores of Swedish disposable furniture.
You can't miss an Ikea store. You can't hide a massive blue warehouse, even in Burbank. We purposely went on a Monday morning to avoid the crowds. I made sure that I was super baked for the visit. As we already know, I don't like to shop and places like Ikea scare me because they represent stability and commerce.
I know, I'm already doomed. I visited Whole Foods and Ikea within a 48 hour period. I'm either...
A. Superfan of Stuff White People LikeThe novelty of Ikea wore off after about twenty minutes. Just about the same time the weed wore off. The first twenty minutes were sort of neat. We wandered through fake living rooms. I kept imagining Swedish people in Sweden coming home from their Swedish jobs and sitting down on their Swedish couches and eating Swedish meals cooked in Swedish pans and served on Swedish plates. I knew a couple of Swedish people. One of my clients is Swedish. I kept picturing random Swedes that I know sitting on Ikea furniture and playing online poker while Bjork played in the background.
B. Expressing my hipster self
C. Settling down
D. All of the above
Yes. I know... Bjork is Icelandic. Perhaps I should have said... while Abba played in the background?
I carefully inspected all of the book cases. I desperately needed one back in NYC to house dozens and dozens boxes of books that I owned. I was curious about the books on the shelves and went in for a closer look. They were not fake. They were real books... and most of them were in Swedish.
I needed one thing and I picked it out right away. The rest of the time I was bored and couldn't wait to leave. Nicky had a ton of stuff to get and would slowly inspect every single section. I was restless and wandered into adjacent sections. After I checked those out, I'd head back and Nicky would still be lingering in a previous section. That process repeated itself for an hour. I wanted to die. I overheard another couple fighting.
"What's wrong? What's the problem?" the wife kept asking her husband.
That's such a stupid question. The dude pushed around a cart with bath mats and soup spoons. He was lost inside the Ikea maze of furniture with weird sounding names and products that will self-destruct by the end of the decade.
His wife disappeared into kitchenwares as he sulked in the aisle. The guy didn't have to say a word. I felt his pain. He wanted to get the hell out of there. He didn't need his wife nagging him about why he was contemplating suicide. Those knives in kitchenwares looked sharp.
"You've lost it. You'll never get out of this maze," I said.
At one point, while Nicky checked out curtains, I was so bored that I tried out every single pillow in the pillow section. I bought one, only out of sheer guilt. I now have a Swedish pillow that I'll barely use since I rarely sleep. What kind of bullshit is that?
I take a wrong turn and I'm on the wrong path and my mind went to jelly. I succumbed to the subliminal and subtle messages that Ikea pumped over their sound system. I made an impulse purchase on something that I definitely don't need.
Out of all the people who bought pillows on Monday at Ikea in every single one of their 300 blue mega-stores in 30 countries all over the planet, I'm the person who will be using a Swedish pillow the least. I'm so fuckin' weak that I'm disgusted at my patheticness.
I checked out some of the labels on various products. They specifically say something like "designed in Sweden" but the products were made in China, sold in the US, and had directions in Spanish. Globalization at it's finest. That's Thomas Friedman's wet dream. You know two countries with an Ikea store have never invaded each other?
The torrents of helplessness subsided and we finally made it out of the store. My first visit to Ikea started out fun and quickly took a turn into the void. Ikea is a dark hole of consumerism and I ended up miserable, like I do on every other shopping trip. You couldn't make me live inside an Ikea for thirty days unless you paid me $1 million.
By the way, here's a pic of dinner that Nicky made using Whole Foods products and served on her new Ikea plates and palcemats...
And yes, the spicy jerk chicken was deliciously amazing.