We go to IKEA, my husband and I, to get a thing that only IKEA has. The trip is always an event. Especially since I use the opportunity to exercise one of my most perverse indulgences: watching people, really up close. There is often a ritual involved. As my husband knows that watching people entertains me a great deal, and as he knows that such an activity usually elicits a hilarious comment or recalls an even more hilarious quote, we have an understanding as to what we want to do for 20 minutes apart from shopping, eating, and going to the bathrooms.

We take a quick look to see what the most populated isle is: this time it seems everybody is rushing to get a dresser, so we take our flat cart, install ourselves comfortably on borrowed cushions and start watching. As people file by in front of us we go from: “oh my god” to “that’s not too bad” where bodies, screaming babies, and bad fashion are concerned. At the end of the affair, indeed, the anticipated word of wisdom comes. I tell my husband in a very serious tone: “the meaning of life is 42.” We laugh like crazies, people get to watch in turn, and I don’t mind that they are envious at our sudden outburst.

What I secretly wish for them is that they had read Douglas Adams’s: The More than Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide – although it’s not sure that they would relate to Adams’s numerical response to one of life’s most intriguing philosophical questions. But it’s really very simple. We go through life counting: one two three four ("pick it up, two three four," says another marching crowd, the elephants in Disney’s animated Jungle book). Indeed.

In the introduction to his guide, says Adams: “I went to Cambridge. I took a number of baths – and a degree in English. I worried a lot about girls and what had happened to my bike.” And so it goes. Completely linearly. First it was this, then it was that, and then a third reason for this or that. Arthur’s companion in the book, Ford Prefect, is always under a lot of stress. He always has to explain that the world is going to end in less than 2 minutes, also suggesting that this has to do with the fact that everyone had become really stupid. One of the people, a barman Ford talks to, serves as an example. Says the barman: “I thought that if the world was going to end we were meant to lie down or put a paper over our head, or something.” “If you like, yes”, says Ford. And so it goes. Perfect communication on doomsday cannot be ensured, not even when hit by a Ford 2 minutes before the second and last thing happens.

I tell my husband: “my dear, we have to keep up with the Joneses. We must buy a dresser.” We did. Now we have two of them. Then we each have 15 Swedish meatballs, because they are down from 55 to 45 kr. IKEA’s 50th birthday in Denmark is being anticipated.

We eat our food, and bury ourselves completely in the magazines lying around. We say nothing to each other. I, in my thoughts, he, in his; I, thinking of how many screws we have to screw (in) before the end of the world; he, thinking of giving me one penny for my screwy thoughts. I adore the silence between us. It creates many beautiful imaginary images. These, complemented by the live ones we’ve just experienced, make me think that, sometimes, being so close to people that you can almost touch them and their thoughts in one beat beats imagination. Not however the meaning of life – if that is not 42, then it certainly is some other number. We cannot (af)Ford to believe anything else.


Bent said…
You should buy this item for inspiration, only 25.257,94$...

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