Finna by Nino Cipri
A grandmother goes to fake IKEA and accidentally stumbles into an interdimensional portal. Two employees (and exes), upon learning that this is kinda a thing at this place and that budget cuts have removed the highly trained retrieval teams designed for such things, are voluntold to go retrieve her.
This was absolutely fabulous, incredibly queer and highly anti-capitalist.
Before I go into my review, let me tell you of my first (and only) trip to IKEA.
Instead of sections, the store ushered shoppers through an upsetting and uncoordinated procession of themed showrooms, which bounced from baroque to postmodern design.
It was summer of 2017. We had just moved to the DC area for my wife’s job. And well, we were driving around and saw a random IKEA store. I had never been to IKEA, but apparently there was one in the Portland area and my mother kept driving up there and was raving about it.
“Oh I just bought these wonderful XYZs,” she’d gush, “You love it here. The meatballs are like Sweden!” [we are Swedish, and also yes, my mother always tells me I love things when I have either a) never experienced it or b) distinctly hate it. this should have been warning #1]
So I was intrigued about what would give my mother a near-orgamismic religious experience and send her into monologues filled with rapturous wonder. Additionally, her aesthetic is Rococco Horrorshow Overload, so there was a distinct dichotomy between her and IKEA minimalism that made my head tilt.
Plus, it had been a near right-of-passage for all of my college friends to drive outside of Boston to go to IKEA and shop for things. Again, I had somehow always missed going, but was like, huh, those Billy Bookcases are pretty phenomenal.
And three of my bookcases had just been smashed to smithereens by the military movers. [always do a DITY]
So I turned to my wife and said, “Let’s go in. Just for shits and giggles.”
She shrugged and was like, “Ok.”
Reader, WE WERE SO NAIVE.
WE DIDN’T KNOW
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So we find a parking spot after ten minutes of searching and venture inside, filled with a sense of whatever it’s a Saturday morning and we’re bored let’s see what the big deal is.
We entered through these huge doors, and it was like being funneled into a theme park. High walls, lots of lines, sound bouncing off every hard surface, and people everywhere. I started getting a sinking feeling in my gut. I do not do crowds. I do not do places with lots of varied human and machine noises coming at me from all directions. This is all a no.
The food court was packed, and I snuck a peak. There was greasy pizza and Swedish meatballs that kinda resembled what I grew up on if I squinted a little and pretended I had no sense of smell. My wife was like, “You hungry?” I shook my head, and we ventured inside, past another chokepoint, where bodies squeezed through hundreds of narrows doors to enter the main building.
She’d been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, but really, all it seemed to come down to was this: she cared too much, too often, and it left her oversensitized and insufferable.
In the first couple rooms, I cooed over the cute little white lamps and the precious golden decorative coffee table sculptures. I awwed at the ingenuous tables that folded in on themselves in monochromatic splendor.
Then the rooms began to blur together. The crowds grew. People stood in the narrow aisles, doing the same cooing and awwing, frozen in place and blocking our path. They didn’t move. They stumbled into our way, blocking our exit so they could stare at the tchotchkes and get their new college student the best bed linens they could buy.
The walls began to close in, the labyrinth tightening around me. The noise from everyone pressed into a space that was too small for the amount of people in it and began to trigger my social anxiety. I turned to my wife. “We have to get out of here.”
It was impossible. We were midway through the maze. There was no way back. There were no shortcuts. I was hyperventilating from Scandinavian minimalism and American capitalist greed. A hundred million murder hornets were trapped in my chest and trying to get out. Any minute, I was going to vibrate apart to a chorus of screams and bees.
We grimly pressed onward, pushed and pulled by the swarms of people around us, who were all having such a good time. My crocodile brain kept screaming “Why? Why? Run! Get out of here, you fools! Free yourselves!” while the suppressed mammal portion of my brain was like “Why are you like this? That white giraffe vagina vase is just what you need!”
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” Trisha said gravely. She had donned one of her Managerial Faces that Jules had reportedly seen her practicing alone in her office: Calm And In Charge.
Finally, finally we saw what we thought was the light of day. The ceilings rose from oppressively low to towering height. I was in rapture in the sunlight. Then I blinked, and we were now somehow in a huge basement warehouse filled with flat-boxed furniture. The beautiful sun was fluorescent lighting. It was all a lie. We were still trapped.
So we decided (stupidly) to see if we could find what we were coming for. Bookcases. By now, my wife was exhausted from dragging my whiny, panicking ass around and dealing with loads of crowds, and had taken my second wind with a deep grain of skeptism.
I found what I was looking for, and then we saw The Check-Out Line.
There were rows and rows of stations, and all had at least 43 million people waiting.
My anxiety ramped on high and crocodile brain resumed its prominence. If we got into that line, we would die.
And so we left.
We set the bookcases down, broke through the lines and shook our heads hurriedly at the security people demanding in disbelief if we had bought anything (we hadn’t, how absurd) and escaped.
Twenty minutes later after struggling to free ourselves from the parking garage quicksand, we made it onto the road. And were free.
OR WERE WE??
And yeah, that’s the review.
Read FINNA if you’ve ever had a similar IKEA experience. Or…don’t. Because #traumaticmemories