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“Alright, David,” said Patrick, stepping off to the side when he reached the top of the escalator and carefully studying the list in his hand. “We already know which bookcase we want, and we need to look at the desks so you can decide between, um… I don’t know how to pronounce either of those names. Oh, and the 2x4 KALLAX, that’s easy; we just need the aisle and bin number.” Looking up from the list, Patrick smiled. “Once we’re done in the showroom, we’ll head downstairs and start working our way through our small items list—it’s mostly kitchen stuff, but we might want to look at lamps, too.”

“Okay, and where exactly do the meatballs fit into this plan?” David said, glancing anxiously at the food court.

When Patrick had first suggested they furnish their new house at least in part with a trip to IKEA, David had been nervous. Well, not just nervous—he might have been a bit concerned. Even upset. Not quite panicked, but it was a near thing. Thankfully, Patrick had given him some time to get accustomed to the idea, and one afternoon when the store was slow, they’d spent a few hours browsing the website together and discussing their options. Ultimately, David had been able to find some items that were acceptable. 

The promise of meatballs had helped, too.

“How about we get the meatballs after we’re done in the showroom?” Patrick suggested.

“Mmkay, but from what you’ve told me, we’ll be barely halfway done at that point? What if I’m hungry again by the time we leave?” 

“Well, David,” said Patrick, smiling fondly, “the designers of IKEA planned for that. There’s another food court at the exit. I think they even have ice cream.”

“In that case, I will defer to your IKEA expertise. Lead the way.”


Many hours and several conversations about Swedish culture and cuisine later—what exactly are lingonberries, anyway?—David and Patrick had finally arrived back at home and unloaded everything from the back of the truck Twyla’s cousin had lent them.

“Why is this little cartoon guy on the phone with IKEA?” David asked as he sat on the couch perusing the assembly instructions for the bookcase. “Do we need to call them to figure out how to assemble it?”

“No, we just need to follow the instructions,” said Patrick, who was sitting on the floor opening up little plastic bags of brackets and wooden pegs and carefully organizing them into piles. “Hey, how many of these wooden pegs are we supposed to have? There’s eleven here, but that doesn’t seem quite right.”

“Um, the big ones or the little ones?” asked David.

“There’s two sizes? I only have—oh, there they are,” said Patrick, turning around to find another plastic bag right behind him.

“Okay, well, it looks like you have this handled,” said David, standing up and setting the instruction booklet on the floor next to Patrick. “I’m going to go try some of that Swedish chocolate we bought. I think it’ll go well with that wine we picked in Elmdale last week.”

“David,” Patrick said, annoyed. “You said you’d help.”

“I am helping,” he said, leaning down to kiss the top of Patrick’s head. “I’m staying out of your way. I can start unpacking all the smaller stuff we bought, too.”

Patrick sighed. “Fair enough. At least bring me a glass of wine.”

“Are you sure it’s a good idea to drink and build furniture, though?” David asked. “Because if you get tipsy, the bookcase might get tipsy, too.”

“You’re worse than Ted,” muttered Patrick, shaking his head and smiling as he fiddled with an Allen wrench.