Monday, June 24, 2013

Like a Rocket

Everybody picks out home furnishings with their potential life partner on the fifth date, right?

No? Just me then.

Jason and I were alternating date planning. I took the odds, he took the evens. Actually, reading that sentence back makes a whole lot of sense now. All the dates I planned for us were fairly odd, whereas his were nice and even. He would take me for dinner at some fabulous restaurant where I would dress up and we would drink imported wine and eat to our heart's content. I took him to a magical movie, an indoor arcade, and now to Ikea.

Long before (500) Days of Summer made the date idea popular, I have been taking guys to Ikea for pseudo shopping and Swedish meatballs. The reasoning behind it is simple. I have learned from marriage that figuring out whether your ideals about politics, religion, family and sex match up pales in comparison to whether or not you want to murder each other on a trip to a big box store. If you can put together the assemble-at-home furniture with instructions in a foreign language without one of you ending up with a screwdriver through the eye socket, you're well on your way to a long lasting relationship.

Also, by the fifth date, I have already tried his last name on for size (it fits), pictured what our future children would look like (tall and nerdy, but completely adorable) so the next logical step is choosing curtains and couches. Got to make sure our styles mesh. Well, to be more accurate, I need to make sure he can live with my cozy country chic / Hamptons beach decor preferences.

He can't. Dilemma.

I love white walls, exposed wood, and granite countertops. I need a big kitchen, plush pillows, and tons of natural light in every room. Jason chooses man cave everything! His concept of a big screen tv is my concept of a giant movie screen! He wants a sofa he can sprawl out and sleep on, which would take over any normal sized room as he is an incredibly tall and stocky farm boy from Kansas. He despises well lit areas and prefers a small lamp or some candles, if any light at all. He literally tapes his blinds and curtains shut to darken his entire apartment. How will we ever live together???

These are the sorts of issues that a couple discovers when visiting Ikea together for the first time. Each section you walk through together sparks a piece of conversation you might not have thought to have otherwise. We find ourselves discussing dinner parties, entertainment units, bedtime rituals, and bathroom habits. (Nothing dirty, don't worry!) I believe that the double sink is better than a marriage counselor when it comes to personal pampering. I refuse to have a tv in the bedroom, believing that space is sacred for sleeping and sex, nothing more. At least we can agree that the toilet paper goes over, and not under. No topic is off limits. As a girl whose divorce boiled down to "he squeezed the toothpaste from the middle and I squeeze it from the bottom," I understand that people are people and they're unlikely to change after 38 years of forming these habits. The best you can do is go into a situation with your eyes open, knowing as much as you can about the other person before deciding to share your space with them for any prolonged period of time.

My mother once advised me, "Life is a long sentence. Choose your cell mate wisely."

Besides the mundane day-to-day conversations Ikea sparks, it's also incredibly entertaining to poke fun at some of the blatant decor disasters they have on display. So many times one or both of us would exclaim, "Holy crap! Who would own that?" and we would make up stories about the sorts of people who would purchase something so hideous for their home. On more than one occasion, a couple or family would walk by, choose the exact item we were laughing at, and buy it. We were in absolute stitches together, collapsing on the nearest couch or office chair or dining room set to catch our breaths. Jason grabbed me and kissed me in the bedroom display section, pulling me down onto the bed and tickling me, causing me to giggle and cry out with glee. I shrieked that I couldn't believe he got me into bed by the fifth date, which made him smile that sly, knowing smile he gets around me when he's being adorably sneaky. We found that we both naturally gravitated towards "our side" of the bed. He tried to fight me for "the good side" by the night table, claiming that everyone loves the right side of the bed. I protested that I prefer to sleep on my right side and if he sleeps on the left, he can snuggle me from behind. Jason could not argue with my logic and assured me he was a world class snuggler. Every fiber of my being wanted for that bed to magically transport itself to a private room where we could fully explore our other bedroom preferences, but alas, no Angela Lansbury appeared singing about Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and we remained firmly in Ikea. As though he could read my mind and ever the gentleman, Jason got up from the bed and helped me to my feet. He planted one more kiss on my lips, solidifying my desire to get to know him even more deeply. I could not get enough of this man.

We left Ikea to grab some dinner. Although I am usually a fan of the cafeteria style Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes they offer, I had another unusual surprise in store for Jason. We walked over to Johnny Rocket's burger bar and ordered a milkshake with two straws. We split an order of onion rings and devoured our sweet potato fries. The only clue I had given him about the evening was to "bring a lot of nickels" which he obligingly did. We tried choosing our favorite oldies songs from the tableside jukebox, but it was sadly out of order. We got lost in our little world, reminiscent of 1953, where I have always felt more comfortable than the present times.

Not wanting the night to end, I asked Jason if he wanted to continue on to Part 3 of the date. While waiting on line for tickets (apparently he didn't want the night to end either!) Jason kissed my forehead, held my hand, and whispered the sweetest little compliments into my ear. I looked up at him (a gesture I was happily getting used to) and teased, "Are you being so nice to me because you're hoping to get lucky?" Without a moment's hesitation, he replied "I'm dating you. I'm already the luckiest guy here."

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