why do these things happen to me?

If you happened to read this blog last April, you remember the Ikea nightmare  that took place with James. Apparently I had forgotten just how bad it was, because I went back for a second helping this weekend. And by second helping, I mean I had one of those experiences that are exactly like those bad dreams that make you wake up sweating and panting and reaching for your phone to text your best friend and say "Oh em gee you will not BEE-LEEVE the dream I just had!"

Well, ladies and gentlemen. That dream was my Saturday. And I hereby present to you, my Saturday at Ikea.

I've wanted to go back to Ikea for awhile now, mostly because they have some baller picture frames and everything there is amazing and I'll have 2 of each, please. My mom has never been, so we decided to team up and go together on Saturday. By 9am we were barreling down the highway, cupholders full of Starbucks, and happy as could be.

We got there a few hours later dying for lunch. We hopped on the escalator to go up to the cafe, when lo and behold I looked up and my eyes connected with the most wonderful thing I have ever beheld. It was like Jesus standing at the top of Jacob's ladder. It was a large metal bin full of chicken pillows.

I was drawn to them like I am an elastic waistband after eating Chipotle. I ran to them and fondled and hugged them all. It was love at first sight. But before I could fill my giant yellow shopping bag with chicken pillows, we had to eat (I GUESS THE EGG CAME BEFORE THE CHICKEN). And since we wanted the full Ikea experience, we ordered a side of Swedish meatballs (cue plenty of Schweddy Ball jokes while standing in line and giggling like 12 year olds).

Once we finished eating, I stuffed a chicken pillow in my bag (just one. I wanted more, but I DIDN'T WANT TO COUNT MY CHICKENS BEFORE THEY HATCH) (I don't know, just go with it), we entered the showroom, and I was instantly depressed that my apartment looks nothing like the little slices of heaven full of bookcases and cozy couches. Anyway, we were standing in a staged room that must have been based on my dream house, because it was full of bookcases, a 1960s style couch, green lamps, and CHICKEN PILLOWS (if the pillow's a-squakin' don't come a-knockin'!) (sorry).

Anyway. We were standing in the midst of home furnishing paradise when I looked to my right and saw a girl that looked vaguely familiar to me. I stared at her for a good 15 seconds trying to figure out how I know her. And keep in mind, we were several hours away from home. The chances of running into someone I know at the Cincinnati Ikea are slim to none. It was one of those creepy moments where I knew I had seen her picture on Facebook, but I couldn't figure out why.


She's my ex boyfriend's fiance. My Facebook newsfeed was blasted with pictures of her for the past three or so years. I laughed it off for a split second until I had a rather alarming thought. What if he's here with her?!? My eyes drifted to the left, and before I could my brain could even process what was happening, I gasped, my knees gave way, and I started shaking uncontrollably.

It was him. Phil. Standing right next to her.

Let me give you some back story so you can understand. Phil is two years older than me. He lived across the street from me growing up, and we were really good friends. He was a tall football player with broad shoulders, wavy blond hair, and a booming laugh. He was cute, he was funny, and I had a big crush on him. He drove me home from school when he didn't have football practice, and I spent many a summer afternoon swimming in his pool (same guy who threw parties and loved Spice Girls). We started dating my senior year of high school, and I even went to the same university as him for a semester (MISTAKE). I broke up with him via phone call a week before I left for college once I started realizing he had been living an epic double life full of HUGE lies no one knew about (like, all his jokes were from the internet. He's not actually funny. Oh, and he had another girl on the side). That semester at college post break up was brutal. He dated or slept with nearly every girl on my hall; he just went right down the line of dorm rooms. He was an RA and turned my RA against me to the point where she would never help me when I needed it. But don't you worry! I got my revenge when I made out with his best friend (a very, very attractive boy studying abroad from the Netherlands. Yes, accent and all!) in the middle of campus for all to see. And then I moved to North Carolina where he had been dying to move. And then he wrote a blog post (on xanga!) bashing me, my family, and my friends. Ah, 2007. So glad you're over.

So yeah. I hadn't seen him since all that chaos 6 years ago, minus a few drunken phone calls from him where he spilled the beans on his whole double life, confirming what I had thought all along.

And there he was, standing 20 feet away in a crowded warehouse full of Swedish furniture. I immediately whispered to my mom what was happening (except I was whisper shouting his name, and she though I was saying 'peanut butter' which lead to even more chaos), and I darted behind some shelving and a butterfly curtain so he wouldn't see me, squeezing my chicken pillow for strength. And then my mom found me and helped calm me down. She suggested I go break the ice and say hi to him, and I said NOT FOR A MILLION CHICKEN PILLOWS.

A few minutes went by, and it was a full on cat and mouse game. He walked toward me, I hid. We had just started shopping and I knew this couldn't go on for hours. I may have a gold medal in people avoidance, but even this would be too much for me. Plus, the tension! I couldn't do it. I wanted to enjoy myself. And, don't hate me for saying this, but looking at his fiance gave me a sudden boost in self confidence. If you know what I'm saying. I tried to find a way out of talking to him, but it was clear I wouldn't be able to keep ditching him for long, plus he was bound to see me any second.

After several minutes of hyperventilation, I decided to take the high road and approach him. I decided I would rather approach him all nonchalant like and throw him off guard before giving him the chance to do it to me, plus, making boys uncomfortable is probably my favorite hobby. So I took seventeen deep breaths, forced myself to not hide behind my mommy, and pulled my cardigan in front of me since my stomach isn't quite as flat and as toned as it was 6 years ago, and I made my approach.

I walked up to him, his fiance, and a friend from college I vaguely recognized and yelled "PHIL! It's you!" And let me tell you.....the look on his face made EVERYTHING worth it. His jaw dropped, his eyes bugged, and all blood left his face. His fiance shot dagger eyes at him, he looked back at her, and I stood there with a calm, proud, smirk smile on my face while flouncing my wedding ring. He gave me a hug, then apologetically shot a look to his fiance, and I made awkward small talk that we all hate, because it was worth it to fluster him as much as possible. And fluster him I did. I have never ever seen a person so brutally uncomfortable. And then my mom approached him and flustered him even more. People, it was glorious. Despite my violently shaking hands and legs, I managed to appear calm and happy and without a care in the world (which is a miracle itself since I'm usually a bumbling fool). I truly am not a vengeful person, and I don't believe in needing to get even, but I have to admit it was glorious payback for the days of finding out he cheated on me with ugly Ashley and was slamming my family on the internet. It was better than the time of throwing snowballs at him through his dorm window. It felt almost as good as kissing his best friend. It was good to let him know my life has turned out quite wonderful without him in it. It was just a good moment. It was a weight off my shoulders.

When I thought he could no longer stand it, and when the old friend's glares were starting to turn into fireballs, I quickly wrapped up the conversation and walked away. We were within 100 feet of each other for the next hour or so, but it didn't bother me. Not even in the slightest. I had gotten closure on our relationship nearly 6 years ago, but seeing him as an adult still wearing glasses sized for a 5th grader's face brought an entirely new level of closure. And it made me want to go hug James.

The rest of the day was played out in typical Ikea fashion. I found too many pillows, the checkout lines and mass quantity of people almost made me cry, and then the GPS went on the fritz and kept circling us BACK to Ikea when we were trying to go home. You know, all the usual things.

On the drive back home, I called my best friend and told her everything that happened since she knows all the intricate details of that flopped relationship. And then she told me something that got me thinking, and then something hit me as suddenly as my cravings for Mexican food: I was destined to see him. Let me explain. Just last week I had the most bizarre dream about him and an ex girlfriend of his who once tried to break the two of us up. In my dream she reappeared and tried to take James from me. I told my friend about it the next day, where she told me she had just run into another one of Phil's ex girlfriends at Starbucks, and they had talked about him (which is weird, because he is just not someone we ever talk about anymore). It was as if the planets had aligned to bring me that horrifically awkward yet wonderful moment.

And this is why I shouldn't go to Ikea.

But at least I have my chicken pillow.


  1. Oh man, I was cringing the whole time, but you go girl for taking over the situation and making them squirm. Although...I don't have an ex-boyfriend to run into but I've always been somewhat completely terrified at the thought of running into Angel's ex. And upon reading your story, it strikes me that I would be playing the role of the ex-boyfriend's fiancee (wife)...and that makes me even more terrified. Although, no matter what, I'll still be 11 years younger than she is....

  2. Good for you! Way to stare awkward in the face!

    I was discussing my prom venue with someone last week which I believe led to a dream about my high school boyfriend. I hope that doesn't mean that I will run into him sometime soon!

  3. Love the pillow! But goodness, was it worth it? lol

  4. 3 words: YOU GO GIRL

    This is hilarious and I was cringing the whole time...but you nailed it, sister!!!! After seeing that chicken pillow, it was totally worth it.

    Also, STILL laughing at "I was drawn to them like I am an elastic waistband after eating Chipotle". I've gone back and read this about 4 times already. You're my favorite!

  5. ahhhh!!! what a awkward story! I'm glad you were able to get closure. I hate running into my Xs because its just so weird/strange! Hugs girl!

  6. "PHIL! It's you!" I can't stop laughing at that. I CAN'T STOP.

    Can you imagine what his fiance was saying to him after? Just think about their car ride home hahaha...oh boy, that's amazing.

    Also, it's a fact that you need to take seventeen deep breaths before approaching an ex-boyfriend.

    Love the pillow!

  7. and just when you thought it couldn't get worse on our IKEA trip, they've announced this morning on the news that HORSE MEAT has been found in the IKEA meatballs that we ate Saturday! AAACK!

  8. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/02/25/horse-meat-found-in-ikea-swedish-meatballs/

  9. I was just about to say how much I love the Swedish Meatballs and then I read ^ that comment and wanted to cry a little.

    besiiiides the horse balls, I'm dying over this.
    I would have NEVER in a million years been able to talk to my ex. Wanna know how I know that? Because sister-friend, I ran into MY secret-double-life-cheaated-on-me-too-ex at Ikea two years ago when Landon and I were buying our bed right after we got married. And I had just gotten off work. I was wearing the manliest work boots in the world, covered in mud and asphalt and I like to picture myself with straw in my hair. even though there isn't any hay around this place.

    I saw him and I hid behind the bed of our truck for a good five minutes til he was gone. Luckily we were just loading the bed into the truck and about to leave so I didn't have to dodge him for the next hour. But still. He was with all his friends and I just couldn't bring myself to say anything. They were probably on their way to eat horse balls too.

  10. shuttttttt uppppppp.

    Also, this is my nightmare. NIGHTMARE. Like I get all nervous thinking about this happening...eeeee
    So glad you were the bigger person... I on the other hand probably would not have been.

    Gold medal to youuuu

  11. love the chicken pillow almost as much as I love the story. :)

  12. You have some of the most amazing stories! I honestly can't imagine running into any of the ex's. It would be so awkward!

    Actually after I started dating my now husband my most recent ex (I broke up with him 2 weeks before meeting my husband so everything was...fresh)and I were still hanging out with the same group of people. Nick and I go to movie night and game night and my ex would usually be there. That was awkward to say the least. Even more awkward when my ex would try to get Nick to play chess with him to "prove his superiority" and Nick would let him win because he felt bad for the guy. At least now he lives far far away so there really isn't any fear of ever bumming into him, thank God!

  13. Oh my god this is one EPIC story. One because of the chicken pillows. I mean all the chicken joke references? Genius. Two because you approached him and that is the most gloriest thing to ever occur in an ikea besides maybe getting a shopping spree for free. You rocked it. So glad you got your eggs in a row and did that!

  14. Exactly why ikea is the center of hell. Except for that glorious chicken pillow.

    I am so proud of you. You go, girl. You go.

    ps - this was so fantastically written.

  15. I'm sad it happened at Ikea because I love Ikea. Ahh reasonably priced Swedish furniture... Where else can you get a Queen size bed to fit into a Honda Civic? And chicken pillows??

    In other news, did you clasp your hands above your head and shake them back and forth a la victory style? Because the awkwardness up to there was not good, but after that- victory moment. If you didn't do it then, you can do it now, because this post made me laugh so hard.

  16. You are more brave than I, by far. I would have spent the next few hours hiding. There simply aren't enough throw pillows to make me ever want to come face to face with that person again, haha.

  17. Oh my goodness! This story could have come from a movie. I'm sorry for the fear it brought you but I'm glad you held it in and showed him what he's missing. Good for you! I think ex boyfriends are the best thing in the world to help us appreciate our husbands.

  18. I think that you handled it awesome and it couldn't have gone any better. And you got an amazing chicken pillow!

  19. Yeah. I like to lay the smack-down over Xanga. I immediately thought of Beyonce the chicken. But more importantly PHIL BUTLER. Upper lip man! This was the universe reminding you how far you've come :) And how awesome we ended up.... thank goodness.

  20. Best bedtime read ever. I hope I dream about shopping at Ikea instead of work tonight. Our closest Ikea is a ferry ride away so out of the three times I've been, the most traumatic thing that happened was that I almost lost it waiting in line, starving to death but suffering from laryngitis so I couldn't get myself a cinnamon bun without a translator and he had to stand in line, too.

    I'm glad your encounter went in your favour. If it's going to be awkward you might as well embrace it.

  21. "His jokes were from the internet..."
    "If the Chicken pillow's a squawkin', don't come a knockin'"

    This may be the funniest blog post I read all week. Pure magic, Michelle. Pure magic.

  22. Best. Story. Ever. Also, Phil, you lost, bro.


Talk to me! If your email is linked to your account, I'll respond to you via email. If not, I'll respond to you right here.