L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, November 18, 2011


In the ever continuing rearrangement/refurbishment of my studio, here in the apartment, I just put together a new desk chair I bought at Ikea. Honestly, we have a ton of things from Ikea; in our apartment, if it isn't old/antique, it's probably a product of that Swedish company. Bookcases, tables, bed, chairs, curtain rods, lamps. Everyone jokes about the horrors of assembly-required items from Ikea - the hieroglyphic instructions, the unintuitive build order, the odd fastenings and the "foreign-looking" included tools - but I really enjoy putting things together. I'm pretty good at it.

I always say that with more than a bit of pride. Putting things together is something that always linked me with my late dad. He put things together, took them apart, and put them back together. For a living. He was an airplane mechanic, in the Air force and out. I don't know if there's any genetic possibility that I could have inherited this particular sort of intelligence from him, but I like to think so. My younger brother, Brian, certainly got none of it. I've always been quite gloat-y that I had this quality in common with our dad, while my slim, athletic, non-sissy brother didn't. My brother has many excellent qualities; they will more than suffice.

My dad and I certainly loved each other, even if we never really had a lot to talk about. But my fondest memories of him are of the two of us working together - when we couldn't procrastinate any longer - on some maintenance or repair project. The last time we did so, we rebuilt part of the low wooden fence around my grandmother's Japanese style garden. We had to disassemble one side of it and replace three or four of the fence posts. We said little in the hours we spent doing this, but we seemed so very much in tune, working together, figuring out how to accomplish what was needed. At one point or another, I suggested something that made something easier to do or made it work better; I don't remember what it was. He seemed impressed with my ingenuity, my good sense. And it made me so quietly happy to have that recognition. To have my father's respect was such a wonderful thing.


Putting together my new chair, this is the page in the instructions that shows how to assemble the base:

Ikea is famous/infamous for having no-text building instructions. It's one of the things that makes people craziest when they're struggling to get their new purchase up and running. At the other extreme, for anything where they would consider written language necessary - fabric content and care, cautions, etc. - they share it in all 29 (!) of the languages spoken in the various countries where Ikea has plopped down retail establishments.

I laughed out loud when I saw that one was told to listen for the "click!" Click. With an exclamation mark. (For the record, it didn't make that sound at all. It was more of a vague but still reassuring thud.) For a moment I pondered whether "click" could be the same in every language? Well, of course not. There is also the question of alphabets....

In line with Gigi's and my recent decamping to French when discussing Nick's "number two"s, I got out the French dictionary for a little rough investigation. We find petit bruit sec (literally, a little dry sound - charming!). And we also have clic, cliquet, and déclic. Not too far off, those. Click might be comprehensible with French as a starting point. But I can only assume things are not quite so simple when we arrive at Turkish or Thai.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely. Especially the remembrance of your moment doing work with your dad. I love that phrase, "quietly happy." Says so much. I remember when we were first together, you used to talk about just wanting to be in a room together, you and me, doing our own thing. [of course, maybe that's because i talk too much.]

    And our language lesson - love cliquet! And "little, dry sound." But I really want to know how to say it in Turkish, now...