Inside Ryerson student Lola Shay’s first time ever—the highs, lows and everything in between. We’ve got all the dirty deets
It started off innocently. Lola Shay, 22, knew that something in her life had to change. She took her time figuring out what she should do. Then she settled on something she’d never done before. “I was a bit scared,” said Shay, “but it felt like the right thing to do.”
She got all dressed up. Lola took care to wear comfortable shoes and yoga pants, because she knew it would be a long day. “And yoga pants make my butt look good,” she said. She got into a cab as thoughts ran rampant through her head: What would it feel like? What if it isn’t what I imagined it would be? What if I don’t like it?
Lola wasn’t sure what to do first. Should she head upstairs, or go straight to the good stuff? “It was all just so new to me, and I didn’t want to make any first-timer mistakes,” said Lola. “Ikea is just such a big store. All I needed was a new bedspread, so that should have been easy to find.”
She wanted to take it slow. She started upstairs, in the display areas. “All of the little set-ups were so cool,” said Lola. She realized he would be in the store longer than expected, so she took her time wandering through all the fancy displays. As she meandered through an elegant kitchen, she picked up a wine glass, and her world was transformed. She quickly gained confidence. “At first it was a bit odd, but when I got used to it, it was amazing!” Onlookers said that Lola pretended to serve dinner to her imaginary husband and children in a mahogany kitchen display. One shopper described Lola’s actions as “ahead of the curve” for someone who’s ever been to Ikea before. They added that she “seemed to fit right in.”
New desires started to take root. Lola soon realized that this store wasn’t just a grab-and-go affair. “To truly experience Ikea, you need to become Ikea,” said Lola. As she walked through each display, she tried to act out what her life would be like if she lived in that space. In a modern living room, Lola became a Manhattan socialite. In an eclectic office space, she turned into a starving artist. In a clean white kitchen, she was a serial murderer cleaning up from her latest kill. “I just went with what felt right,” said Lola.
Things started to heat up a little. Lola had a brief altercation with Ikea security after she was caught jumping from bed to bed in the mattress department. “I was just trying to have a little fun,” said Lola. This fun also included a pillow fight with the kids whose parents didn’t let them play in Ikea’s fantasy kid play space, Småland. “Only two kids got hurt, so I’d call that a win,” said Lola.
But before long, things had gone too far. After having six helpings of Swedish meatballs and two of Ikea’s new pulled salmon sandwiches, Lola was informed that the store was about to close. “I wasn’t ready to leave, but I looked at the time and realized I had been inside Ikea for seven and a half hours,” said Lola.
She had to leave some things behind that night. As she checked out, Lola had to make some tough choices. “My total was $3,622. Not everything could stay,” she said. Lola cast aside 27 Penninggräs cushions, 33 Gabbig baskets and seven Lack tables—one in each of Ikea’s signature colours. She left with only two packs of cinnamon buns. When she got home, she realized that she had forgotten to buy a bedspread.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,”
Lola said. In all her life, Lola had never felt so good, so free, so pure. Ikea was the fresh start she had been so desperately yearning for. She plans to go again soon, and the next time, with friends. “I mean, I still need a new blanket, so I have to go back next weekend.”