So I’m at Ikea today. They’re having a sale on Flarkes and Prutas and Morkers, so, of course, I’m at Ikea today.
I’m strolling about with a cart that floats more than it rolls, needing rowing more than pushing. I list this way and that and back again, until suddenly, I start to feel like some modern day Peter, shopping on water, trying to stay afloat, desperate to keep my eyes on Jesus, who is waiting for me over by the Humlarps. I drift that direction, happy and sure, until I quickly glance down, lose control, and crash into a display. Furtive, I glance to see if Jesus saw that. He did. He shakes His head with a mixture of love and pity and disappears.
I didn’t want a Humlarp anyway.
I float away from the place where Jesus was and practically collide with
The Devil, for those who don’t know, is a tall and angular fellow with grayish hair and hawkish nose and greenish eyes. His khaki shorts and T-shirt seem to scream normal, bland even, so I just assume “normal”; that is, until I see the evil sandals.
The sandals, you see, are THOSE kind of man sandals that look not so much like sandals as instruments of torture. Thick, wide straps curl clawlike about the feet, strangling the very extremities a man thoughtlessly expects to schlep him about all day, up or down, fast or slow, on plush carpet or hot asphalt, without thanks or reward — ALL DAY, I say! — the very extremities that should be treated, not with negligence and cruelty and contempt but with care and tenderness and massages.
Just what is the seduction of these sandals, men? I implore you to cry out to God for the freedom of your souls …. and your soles. The Lord will forgive you even if I do not.
Or read on and see your sorry future.
Now …. I didn’t know that The Devil shops at Ikea, but here he is even so. I DID know that he’s a wrathful, wicked sort, so I’m not surprised to see him railing at a hapless salesgirl. We’re over by the linens and I am quietly but blatantly eavesdropping. The salesgirl is just a young and tiny thing, perhaps 16 or 17 years old. The Devil looms above her, the hollows of his cheeks fierce, crimson pools, and hisses:
“I am VERY angry! This is NOT okay with me!”
The poor salesgirl mumbles and scurries off like a wee frightened bunny. I purposely dawdle by the Dorflaks to hear what in hell is wrong with The Devil.
Now another salesgirl, also a little bunny, approaches. Bunny 1 and Bunny 2 shake as The Devil snarls:
“This sign on this bin says $15.99, but they charged me $34.99 for it at the checkout!”
He waggles the item in question above their heads.
“Well, sir –”
“THEN I had to walk all the way back here to prove to somebody what the price actually is! I am SO MAD! Are you the manager!?”
Bunny 2 squeaks out a “no.”
“WELL, I WANT THE MANAGER. BRING ME THE MANAGER NOW!”
I’m barely containing myself. Moments later, Head Bunny arrives and The Devil launches into his diatribe again. The Bunnies seem unable to eke out a single word.
“Can’t you see what this sign says!? I’m not paying $34.99 for this!”
I venture out from behind the shelves where I’ve been lurking. From my vantage point, about 10 feet away, I can clearly see a $34.99 price tag dangling from the display model of his item. It’s inches from The Devil’s elbow. How did he miss it?
Because he’s The Devil, that’s how.
He’s still ranting, red-faced and irrational. Shoppers are now giving the scene a very wide berth, gaping as they pass by. The Bunnies are losing, becoming mush, bunny stew. Finally, some foolhardy impulse to protect The Bunnies overwhelms me and I can take it no longer.
I step up, point to the tag, and speak:
“Sir, there’s a tag right here that says $34.99.”
When am I going to learn that you NEVER talk to The Devil??
He twists his head my direction. Unnaturally far, if you ask me.
“Well, sir, this price tag has the same name as the item in your hand. And it’s $34.99.”
The Bunnies back away, wide-eyed. The Devil breathes fire at me.
“Well, I didn’t look at THAT! I LOOKED IN THE BIN!!”
The bin, you see, has an entirely different item in it which, amazingly, has an entirely different price tag than the one in his hot little hands. Somehow, The Devil seems to think that simply because HE CANNOT READ, he’s entitled to a price nearly $20 less than the actual price of his item. He also seems to think that he can continue to harass frightened little Bunnies until they thump away, crying, and he gets his way.
Somehow, I don’t know how, I remain outwardly calm.
“Well, sir, there seems to be a different item in the bin.”
This perfect “duh” moment passes by in crackling silence, unappreciated. The Devil spins completely about to face me and spits:
“YOU NEED TO GET LOST!! GETTTT LOSSSTTTT!!”
The words echo through the store, hanging there. Then instantly forgetting me, he whirls back towards the poor Bunnies, who are cowering at his outburst. All righty, then. He’s insane, but I’m stupid, and that’s worse. I’ve been NO help at all, have probably made the situation worse, even, and he’s not done with his rampage. I float my cart away from him, scanning the area for the nearest, largest, MALE Ikea employee. Finding one, I tell him:
“There’s a very unstable man around the corner harassing a few of your female co-workers. Do you think you could go help them? I think there needs to be another man there. And before you go, you might want to call security.”
Duh. Finally, something sensible comes to mind.
As I stand watching — at a distance now — two little, silver-haired ladies tiptoe up to me. Patting my arm, one of them says, “Oh, you are a dear.” (That’s charitable.)
“What a horrible man,” the other one joins. They begin speaking on top of each other, rapid fire, with no pauses between comments:
“he is so rude!” — “yes, rude” — “we heard what he said to you” — “oh, he is awful!” — “I think he’s crazy” — “we saw him at Lowe’s” — “yes, Lowe’s” — “and he was doing the SAME thing” — “yes, the VERY same thing” — “he makes me so MAD!” — “oh, I know he’s crazy” — “yes, CRAZY!”
Then, stopping their verbal volleys, one of them snorts with contempt:
“I noticed he is NOT wearing a wedding ring.”
Her friend sniffs, “Well, what a surprise. Just look how happy he makes women!” They laugh and snort again and walk away from me, saying, “Bye-bye, dear.”
Turning back to the scene, I watch as security finally escorts The Devil out of Ikea. I sigh and leave the store with my prized Trofkes and Prutas in tow.
But out in the parking lot, I admit … I glance over my shoulder a few times.