Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Three Vowels and a Consonant

I was off Monday, taking some compensatory time from the people I work for to stretch a weekend into a shortened work week. In my house that means BGP's, 'Baby Girl Projekts' (with a k in deference to my wife's heritage).

My son's 27th birthday is approaching and we decided (the plural first person is my fig leaf that it was a joint decision; we know it wasn't, okay? But it costs so little to let me have my dignity. Thank you.) that we'd go to IKEA in New/East Haven CT which everyone here pronounces Eye-Key-ah and which we tend to call Ick-Kay-uh from all those years ago when they weren't in the USA and neither were we.

We started shopping in the IKEA in Wallau, (West) Germany back before we had our own family and while there were still two Germanys. It was a radically different way to buy furniture and we furnished our entire apartment in Offenbach am Main with it and were able to make do with the provisional store after an employee accidentally set fire to the one in Wallau and it burned to the ground (that much wood created flames that formed a glow on the horizon we could see from our house, some 40 kilometers away). I've always enjoyed IKEA because their stuff has clean lines and is simple to assemble.

A lot of the furniture names are fun to say as well, except the ones that have an "O" that isn't an "O", you know, the "O" with the line through it. I think they could just skip that letter all together. Some kind of Swedish variant of Donovan's "First There Is a Mountain." Sometimes, the furniture is fiendishly clever in its design so much so that whenever we visit the Connecticut store, I tend to feel there are more bright ideas per square foot there than in any other place in the state. Based on the behavior in Hartford, I think I win.

We used to travel I-95 South to get there but I HATE I-95 in either direction. I think through some point in the late Fifties it was probably faster to use 95 as part of the trek from Boston to NYC but then population growth in the corridor turned stretches of it into a parking lot with tollbooths. Years, ago, people mocked me as a resident of New Jersey ("what exit?"). The Turnpike Authority, who had their own police force and were NOT afraid to use it, expanded a huge stretch of 95 into six lanes in either direction. Some wags suggested it was to make it even easier and faster to get through and out of Jersey. Be that as it may, when you have 95 in Connecticut practically two lanes in each direction for the entire state, which was great in '58, but not so much in '09, the idea of 'who's laughing now' comes to mind.

We take 82 from Norwich onto 80, I think (I just drive and not especially well; directions I leave to my navigator) and then a a bit of 91 and then 34 to IKEA. I skip the ferry ride at Chester and take the scenic route through Hadlyme (which to my mind should be the next town neighbor to Gotmilk and GimmeGoodLovin, but isn't) and East Haddam and Deep River and who knows what else.

I saw campaign signs supporting Merrick Alpert in what I thought was his uphill battle to unseat Senator Christopher Dodd in a Democratic Party primary in 2010. The signs were in Haddam, which I've always believed in political geography is about as hallowed Democratic ground as you can get. Maybe that 'culture of corruption' mantra and a sense that Chris has stayed way too long at the fair are catching up with the Doddster. There's already two Republicans seeking their party's nomination to run against him and the election, itself, isn't until November 2010. Maybe Connecticut will end up with two independent Democratic Senators. Of course, before that happens I'll have figured a short cut to get from the IKEA lot back on to Route 80 and skipped all the color of a staycation that driving through New Haven can mean. At least I can dream I will.
-bill kenny

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