My wife is threatening to make the jump on her 1982 Kawasaki.
“You take it back,” she says.
She revs the engine, sending our two little Pomeranians behind the couch. She is angry because I don’t want to go to the Cheesecake Factory with her. Because I invested in awful stocks. Because I won’t give up my dream to become a jazz trombonist. Because I haven’t taken out the trash ever since my father died. She says I need to get over it. It’s been over ten years, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.
“Do it,” I say, “I don’t care what happens to you.”
She tucks away the loose flaps of her nightgown, puts on her helmet, and accelerates towards the ramp. She clears the rings of fire. She clears the crocodile pit. She clears the toxic vats.
The motorcycle lands skewed and tumbles, sending my wife headfirst into our living room wall. Her helmet makes a big dent.
“Next time I will add a field of Spartan spears. I will add two Ram pickup trucks. I will add a B2 Stealth bomber,” she says, taking her head out of the helmet, still lodged in the wall.
“There’s no way you can jump that. You will die. Who will take care of our son?”
“Our son has gone off to the military.”
“But he is only three.”
“Recruitment shortages have loosened the entry requirements. You never pay attention to these things. You never listen.”
We are about to fall into one of our infamous arguments. Our upstairs neighbors will duct tape their ears shut. The milkman will be afraid to enter the building. People passing by on the streets will stuff themselves into mailboxes and trashcans. I will get the sledgehammer and bash in the granite top of our kitchen island. My wife will tear off the heads of our Pomeranians and we will have to get new ones.
Just then, the IKEA Man arrives.
“Hallo! I have come to deliver your furniture and home accessories.”
Our hearts melt. We both love the IKEA Man, but we cannot express it. It is a forbidden love. Not that the IKEA Man will ever accept us. He is a high caliber man.
“Here is your LÅNGFJÄLL of Forgotten Troubles, your RÅSKOG of Carnal Desire, the BEKVÄM of Deep Depression, very popular this season, the NISSAFORS of Mending Hearts will look good in your foyer, and this HAVSTA of Painful Dreams will be great for that wonderful guest room I saw coming in.”
My wife unbuttons the top of her nightgown. I flex my abs. But the IKEA Man remains unaffected. He has no desires, sexual or otherwise. His only purpose is to deliver quality-made, easy-to-assemble furniture and home accessories. He has no time to dilly dally with the affairs of humanity. He does not eat or sleep. The warm embrace of IKEA goods and the satisfaction of a job well done is all the nourishment he needs.
“Thank you, IKEA man,” we both say.
“I will be back next month, please continue buying our wonderful products.”
“Anything for you, IKEA man.”
We split up the furniture between us. I take the LÅNGFJÄLL of Forgotten Troubles, the HAVSTA of Painful Dreams, and the RÅSKOG of Carnal Desire. My wife takes the BEKVÄM of Deep Depression and the NISSAFORS of Mending Hearts.
We both eye the new season catalogue the IKEA Man left us. It still smells like him. Vanilla, coffee beans, and woodchips.
“I should pick what to order next,” my wife says, “You got three things and I only got two.”
“No. We will split the RÅSKOG of Carnal Desire in two and we’ll each have half. Then we can order together.”
We hacksaw the RÅSKOG of Carnal Desire in half. We admire the items in the catalogue while deciding what to order for next month. The OSYNLIG of Nostalgic Scents, the SILVERÅN of Self-Reflection, FRIHULT of Hateful Glares, the EKOLN of Indigestion, the DRÖNJÖNS of Sharp Jabs, and the LILLÅSEN of Almost Beautiful.
We fill out the order form and then burn the catalogue so we are not tempted to go back on our selections. We sit together on the couch and watch television. Things are okay between us now, at least for the time being. My wife puts her hand on my thigh, and I wish we had sawed in half something other than the RÅSKOG of Carnal Desire.
On television we see a journalist covering the War in Afghanistan. In the background is our baby boy in full military gear, shooting at the people who are trying to take our freedom away.
“We did well with him,” I say.
“We sure did,” my wife says. “He’s grown up into a fine young man.”
I lie in bed next to my wife. She is dreaming of the Big Stunt. One day I will do something so horrifying and unforgivable that she will have no choice but to do the Big Stunt. It will involve monster trucks, swinging pendulums of halberds, a tight rope over starving piranhas, among other things. She will not survive, and I will be left alone to rot. Our son will become addicted to pills. All our IKEA furniture will turn to sand.
I turn on the SYMFONISK of Due Diligence and let the soothing white noise of gentle rainfall drown out my thoughts of the Big Stunt. I dream of being embraced by the IKEA Man’s sturdy, clean shaven arms.
“Hallo,” he says, “follow me.”
He leads me to a secret room in the back of the IKEA factory. The factory workers smile and wave at us. Inside the secret room is an ergonomic, jet-black chair. He guides me to it and looks me in the eyes.
“The YNGVAR of Potential. My masterpiece. I made it just for you.”
© Jihoon Park
[This piece was selected by Heather Cripps. Read Jihoon’s interview]