The following story is fictional. Any resemblance to a real person or event is entirely coincidental, at least as far as any representatives of the American Veterinary Medical Association may be concerned.

  1. Your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center is designed to be built simply and easily by one person in about an hour’s time. So relax, friend. Open a beer, and munch on some lingonberries. By all means, put on music. The only thing Swedes do better than flatpack furniture is music. There is no wrong time for “Dancing Queen.”
  2. Slowly and methodically open the boxes that contain your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center. Carefully separate each component from the intricate Styrofoam packing which, despite its impressive bulk, still failed to prevent at least one side panel from cracking.
  3. Use a hand vacuum to dispose of the nor’easter of fluttering Styrofoam shrapnel that materialized in surprising volume and now comfortably blankets the entire living room.
  4.  Carefully review the included diagrams before beginning to build. Understand what each individual task aims to accomplish. Visualize your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center appearing in front of you in a soaring crescendo of Swedish pragmatism, American sweat equity, and particle board.
  5. Match each component of your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center with the inventory list, and lay them out on the floor. Separate like pieces of hardware into small piles. Use post-it notes as labels to keep your head and workspace clutter-free.
  6. Ignore the vague but undeniable sense of profound dread building slowly in your mind. To reassure yourself, repeat softly: See that girl, watch that scene, digging the dancing queen!
  7. Locate the Allen wrench. Every piece of IKEA furniture, including your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center, contains an Allen wrench. It is the only tool you really need. If you lose the Allen wrench, this will end badly for you. Resolve not to lose the Allen wrench.
  8. Put the Allen wrench in a location where you will not misplace it during construction of your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center. Consider the coffee table, or the desk, or next to HEY WHAT THE FUCK.
  9. Desperately chase your idiot dog while screaming “NO NO NO NO NO, trying to catch her before she swallows the Allen wrench that she proudly displays like a big game trophy while merrily trotting about your living room.
  10. Push aside your mounting guilt when you realize that your desire to recover the Allen wrench stems more from the terrifying prospect of a forever-incomplete, Tower of Babel-like new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center than from concern for the welfare of your dog.
  11. Pause assembly of your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center and refer to this document’s companion explainer, “How To Give Your Dog A Home Endoscopy With An X-Acto Knife, Tweezers, And Other Common Household Objects.”
  12. Crisis averted. Stay focused. Collect the scattered hardware that you inadvertently kicked throughout your apartment during the aforementioned chase. Turn up the volume on “Dancing Queen.” There, there, that’s better. Make a mental note to buy a new X-Acto knife and tweezers next time you go to the store.
  13. As shown in the included diagrams, use cam lock fasteners to attach Parts C and D to Parts H1 and H2 of your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center. Place the cam lock screws into their pre-drilled holes, and secure them with cam lock nuts inserted perpendicular to the cam lock screws.
  14. Test each fastener by lightly pulling the newly adjoined pieces away form one another. Curse loudly when your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center immediately comes apart in your hands. Curse loudly again when you realize, upon further review, that none of those three parts were Part C, and that there is no Part C at all.
  15. Switch gears. Set aside assembly of individual drawers for now, and complete the frame of your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center by tapping wooden pegs into the pre-drilled holes of Parts A, B, T, and P90X. Attach these parts by sliding the protruding pegs into the aligned notches of its would-be neighbor.
  16. Emit your loudest profanities yet when the last of the wooden pegs shears off during yet another aborted attempt to coax Parts A, B, T, and P90X into an interlocking rectangle.
  17. Call the IKEA help line. Wonder idly if the alarmingly nude, large-nosed cousin of Kilroy who appears throughout the instructions will answer your call. Open another beer.
  18. No one answers your call. You are alone in this world with an Allen wrench, ABBA, and a profound sense of regret. Throw caution to the wind, and exceed the volume limits recommended by your speaker system’s manufacturer.
  19. Get innovative. Use a sturdy ruler to replicate the intended stabilizing effect of Part C. Messily adhere Parts A and B to Parts T and P90X using a jumble of nails you found lying around, and intermittent touches of superglue. Much like American electoral politics, it does not have to be pretty. It just has to work.
  20. Control your frustration when, much like American electoral politics, it is not pretty, and it most certainly does not work. Resignedly accept the fact that your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center will function only for so long as you use it in its exact current location, wedged precariously between the wall on one side and an end table on the other.
  21. Delicately place the included shelves inside your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center’s ominously teetering frame. To maximize stability, start from the bottom. Resist the inclination to hum the corresponding Drake single. There is only “Dancing Queen.”
  22. Insert and gently close the drawers you managed to complete (if any). Jump back nimbly when one breaks free of the encumbrances of its fragile plastic runners and plummets to the bottom, setting off a cascade of falling drawers and slipping shelves that ends in a jumble of composite wood parts piling neatly at your feet.
  23. Pause assembly of your new BESTA bookshelf entertainment center. Leave your apartment. Go buy more beer.
  24. Drink those beers. Lay humbly on the floor and allow yourself to be mesmerized at how your BESTA bookshelf entertainment center, the flatpack furniture equivalent of a late-game Jenga tower, transforms effortlessly from rectangle to parallelogram to rectangle at the slightest push.
  25. Go to West Elm and buy the bookshelf entertainment center that you wanted in the first place.
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