Saturday, December 27, 2008

My faithful reader friends, I think we've known each other long enough that I can share some of my most deeply-held spiritual beliefs with you: There IS a Hell. I am probably going there. And it is VERY much like Ikea.
It is not air conditioned and it is populated by demons, so in these respects it is unlike the popular chain of furniture stores.
But I'm pretty sure that the major punishment doled out in Hell is Satan himself handing you a huge carton full of plywood and mutated-looking hardware with a command to make an attractive and functional armoire.
And when the armoire is done, he gives you a desk to assemble.
And when that is finished, he gives you THIS:

and says "Make an elaborate light fixture. Now. Or else it's the Lake of Eternal Fire for you, young lady."

And when you ask for instructions, he hands you a tiny ripped bit of paper with a miniscule diagram on it. Like this: Oh wait, this isn't Hell. This isn't Satan's do-it-yourself project. It's my husband's. I hasten to add that other than his penchant for Ikea-style torture, my spouse bears no resemblance to the Prince of Darkness whatsoever. Not that I didn't call him Bad Names when I saw the pile of metal rods, glass plates, plastic disks and mysterious bits of wire that were supposed to be made into something suitable for hanging in our home.

Just before we left Ouagadougou, JP insisted on taking me to visit some light fixture "shops" near the palace of the Moro Naaba. The quotation marks denote the fact that the "shops' were three metal-roofed shacks about eight feet square. Each one contained hundreds of lights and lamps and also, it seemed, hundreds of employees. There was no room to move in these places, they were so full of people fulfilling no discernable function.

Why were we here? JP had taken it into his head that we HAD to buy some lights to take back to France for our admittedly spartan house. I didn't really see WHY we needed to buy over-priced lamps made by Chinese prisoners and imported to Africa, but he insisted. So, we chose one, an elaborate three-level confection of crystal drops, engraved glass panels and blown-glass rods.

We told the multitudinous personnel that we would be travelling with the item, so they proposed to give us one still in its box. Only a little assembly required and voila! Instant sino-african elegance chez vous. What a good idea!

Of course, the idea looked far less good six months later when we finally got the box from our moving continer and opened it up. We dumped the contents on the dining room table and were confronted with hundreds of bits of metal, glass and wire. The "crystal" drops turned out to be plastic. And the "instructions" turned out to be a three inch square of torn paper with a mysterious diagram on it.

It looked hopeless.

It WAS hopeless.

But guess what? We DID it!

Check this space tomorrow for photos.


oreneta said...

Good lord, I hope you like the lamp in the end...sounds like it was rather more work than it was worth....

babzee said...

I've visited the IKEA in Sacramento three times. On each occasion I became lightheaded, disoriented and ultimately angry after the same routine: FINALLY finding the item you wish, seeking out the order desk and placing the order, only to be told it isn't in stock and to all intents and purposes will never gain be in stock -- and possibly never WAS in stock. For an eternity? Can wishing mild harm come to your child's pet be worth THAT?

La Framéricaine said...

Oh, la vache!

Bonne chance, Chérie!