When it comes to emotions, I’m not a big fan of pity.
Empathy? Yes. Compassion? Absolutely. Benevolence? You’re darn tootin’! But not pity.
To me, pity is the ultimate downer. It seems to suggest that a person’s situation is so bad, it’s hopeless. And that rubs my perennially optimistic nature the wrong way.
I do have to say, however, that if I were going to pity somebody, it would be the Kardashians.
Oh, I know. They’ve got ginormous houses, A-list husbands, and all those designer babies — not to mention assorted TV shows, mega-brands, and the best seats at Fashion Week.
Heck, they’ll even be getting a discount on legal bills when Kim finishes law school.
But there is one thing those Kardashian girls have never had, and I’m pretty sure they never will: The satisfaction of putting together a piece of Ikea furniture.
You think I’m kidding. But hear me out.
Have you assembled anything from Ikea lately? If not, you’ll have to hearken back to your grad school days. Remember when the thrill of purchasing a decent-looking bookcase for $79 was exceeded only by the delight of feeling like a highly skilled carpenter? The sublime satisfaction of putting all of those funky little screws and slender wooden dowels and weirdly turning doo-hickies into their proper slots and creating, from an unassuming box of MDF slabs, an actual piece of furniture?
The sense of mastery was somehow heightened by the fact that no actual words were used to guide you through this process. Just that little Ikea man (and his friend!) and a whole lot of line drawings. Not only were you an incredibly competent furniture maker, but you could also read hieroglyphics!
As someone who’s missing the section of the brain in charge of engineering, I really did end up feeling like some kind of Nikola Tesla.
Especially when drawers were involved.
Now consider poor Kylie Jenner. I think it’s fair to say that in the midst of becoming the world’s youngest billionaire, overseeing a vast cosmetics empire, and tending to the Warhols in her 13,200 square foot home, she has never once been called upon to assemble a Billy bookcase.
What about Kendall, the supermodel — whose $8.55 million Beverly Hills pad weighs in at 6,625 square feet? I’m thinking no. Kim, Kourtney, Khloe? Kno, kno, kno.
And really, isn’t that kind of sad?
Those poor pampered jet-setters will never know the thrill of picking up an Allen wrench, pushing aside a perplexed spouse/roommate/sister who has no idea what the little Ikea man is trying to say, and proclaiming, “I got this.”
They will never know the joy of being able to speak Ikea.
“But Amy,” you say. “Surely you haven’t purchased anything from Ikea lately! Not a full-time interior design professional like yourself!” And that, my friends, is where you would be wrong.
Anyone heard of the pandemic, during which industrious types from all over the world (including my husband and two children) discovered the joys of working from home? This inevitably sent people like me — who had already been working from home — running for the highlands. Newton Highlands, to be precise, where I secured a cute little attic room of my own in which to actually get sh*#t done.
(Not that I don’t love being interrupted every 10 minutes with pressing questions like “Is there any pasta left?” or “Do you know where Dad is?” from people with 20/20 vision and fully functional cellular phones. But it does tend to cramp my productivity.)
The atmosphere in my new office is blissfully solitary and silent. The ceilings are high, the light is plentiful, and if I turn off the ringer on my phone, I can remain mercifully ignorant of newsflashes like my son wants to know where we keep the Parmesan and my daughter can’t find her Uggs.
The only downside is that my cute little attic room is so cute, little, and attic-like that it turned out to be impossible to get full-size furniture up the stairs, around the corners, and through its threshold.
(Might this explain the incredibly reasonable rent? I’m thinking yes.)
So what’s a resourceful designer to do? Carry it up in pieces, of course. And where might I find disassembled furniture at a decent price to use in a temporary office for . . . (fingers crossed and double crossed and crossed yet again) . . . no longer than a year?
You guessed it! Ikea.
I’m happy to report that the desk and loveseat I put together myself look just fine. (It helps if you tart them up with nice pillows and accessories.)
Even happier was the realization that my furniture assembly skills are just as sharp as they were when I put together my very first $20 nightstand sometime back in the 1990s. (It’s like riding a tvåhjuling, I guess.)
The happiest outcome of all: the satisfaction I derived from furnishing what appeared to be an un-furnishable space. It proved to be deep and profound and almost . . . holy.
So join with me as I pity those poor Kardashian girls, who will never get to experience any kind of religious experience involving stick figures and sheets of MDF.
And take pleasure in knowing that, while you yourself may never need to construct a bedroom-sized closet just to house your collection of Birkin bags (see also: Kardashian, Kim), if you did, you would be able to put the shelving units together all by yourself.