May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favour

Life is like IKEA furniture. Sometimes you have to take it apart so you can put it back together the right way.
— Chris Blake
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When you are in a relationship (and perhaps newly domiciled together) there are obviously going to be many tests along the road of togetherness. Dealing mostly with the seemingly mundane, such as which way the loo paper goes on the holder - over - thankfully, there is no argument in this household; nor is there an issue with loo seats being left up - what a guy!

There are discussions - let's not use the word arguments, it's so ugly - as to how beds are made (yes, I like hospital corners at the bottom, but then the rest of the sheet untucked because IT WILL STRANGLE ME IN THE NIGHT DON'T LAUGH AT ME YOU MEAN NASTY PERSON, IT COULD HAPPEN). Maybe there will be quiet 'chats' about how the dishwasher is loaded, and then re-loaded by the person who has stood by silently waiting for the other person to sod off so that they can line up the plates in the correct order and make everything look better before turning it on. (NB: this is a hypothetical, unlike the sheets; we are both far too 'who gives a toss' to care about how a dishwasher is loaded. We just give thanks to the Dishwasher God and have another glass of wine in our streak-free dishwashered glasses).

Sometimes the little niggles can turn into bigger issues, and suddenly you find yourselves in a rip-roaring fight at three in the morning about both of your families, why you have never liked what each other does for a living, how hurt you were by what the other one said to Aunt X on the 15th of March last year - and which probably all started because two days ago, one or the other of you forgot to close the fridge door/left the shower dripping/made a drink for yourself and didn't ask if the other wanted one - and have sulked ever since.

Ain't love grand.

But all this, in the scheme of things, is trivial. It is nothing. It is as flotsam and jetsam on the ocean of connubial bliss. Because, my friends, there is a surefire way to find out whether or not you are destined to be a 'We Are So Right' - or whether you are just a 'We Are So Right Now'.

It's a simple test in terms of preparation. It requires little study, although a smartphone does help, because let me tell you, having something capable of taking photos and with a decent internet connection may save your relationship whilst doing this Valentine's viva.

Here's what you do.

You wake up, on a sunny holiday weekend morning. You have a leisurely breakfast or brunch, depending on whether you are feeling normal or pretending you are artsy and European. One of you (I'm going with the girl in a hetero relationship, because honestly? No straight man I know would EVER voluntarily say this) casually makes a statement which may change the course of your life.

Forever.

'Hey, I've had a thought... we've got those gift vouchers. Why don't we go use them?'

A grunt of agreement. Gift vouchers need using after all, right?

'OK. Where are they for again?'

'IKEA.'

'Oh.'

'I'll just go and get ready!!! I've already downloaded a shopping list.'

'Oh... Oh God.'

'What?

'I said "Oh, oh good"'.

Let the Hunger Games begin.

Don't get me wrong. Maybe you are the kind of couple who thrive on challenges. You may already be on your third Tough Mudder together, or getting ready to do Race Around The World - or God forbid... The Block. But if you can do the following on a holiday weekend, you're at a standard above ordinary mortals, and might as well pick out the Diamond Anniversary gift list now.

First, get in the car. Stay in the car for a long time, not necessarily on a highway, but in a car park. Watch other people drive very badly in said car park, whilst pointing out to each other non-existent car spaces.

'There's one... oh, no it's not. Sorry. There's one! Oh wait... it's just a really dirty car'.

Cut to an hour and a half later.

You make it into the store - well, you make it to the start of the store.

And this is where it starts. The Battle of Wills. The epic saga for the ages, which in Swedish (as is appropriate for IKEA) shall be known as "Undvikande av små barn med Miniature Kundvagnar och droppande glass, samtidigt försöker Följ pilarna."*

IKEA-showroom-floor

Nobody is actually happy when they go to IKEA. You want to be; it's where dreams, much like Disney, are supposed to come true. You are there to build a home together (admittedly often with 15,022 screws and only one alum key, but that's beside the point). The problem is though, that every couple in the world goes to IKEA at the same time. Every FAMILY in the world goes to IKEA at the same time. And they are all arguing about what they actually want.

'I like the red table. What do you think, sweetheart?'

'Yeah... it's alright. I guess.'

'So you hate it.'

'No, no... it's fine. If you like it, then I'm fine with it.'

'Oh you hate it. Just like you hate my MOTHER!'

'No, really, it's - wait - what?'

And suddenly, somewhere in between Matplats and Badrums, your relationship is resembling that moment where Katniss and Peeta are about to eat the berries... and not in a dying for true love kinda way.

However.

There is hope. You can pass this test. Really really.

On Easter Monday, myself and The Man Who Vaguely Resembles David Tennant went to the Swedish Superstore with a fistful of said freebies. And we not only emerged unscathed physically (although we didn't follow the arrows the right way, so strictly speaking we should have been unceremoniously ejected immediately upon entry by the IKEA police) - we were still talking to each other.

And we genuinely liked what we'd bought.

Together.

So if you can manage this, like us, you can pretty much face anything - floods, fire, the end of the world with nothing to eat but cockroaches, Donald Sutherland as the head of dystopian society, and having to depend on Jennifer Lawrence to get everyone out of horrible poverty (hell's bells).

We did have a row later on about who had to let the cat in at 3.30 in the morning though.

Hey - nobody's perfect. And it was definitely his turn. And it was cold.

Plus, my sheet was trying to strangle me.

He'd tucked it in too much.

*If you actually want to know what the Epic Saga is about, it's a corker, and will be coming soon to a theatre near you, hopefully starring myself and a mostly loincloth clad Alexander SkarsGod: The Avoidance of Small Children With Miniature Shopping Carts and Dripping Ice Creams, Whilst Trying To Follow The Arrows. This is of course an artsy-fartsy Swedish title to make Pomerantz and Stratton happy, and the emphasis will be on a mostly loincloth clad SkarsGod. That's a promise.