Did the Ikea thing this weekend. Translation: I trudged through an endless, footsore maze of primary colors, particle board and bewildering, actually serious names. I bought weird but uselessly nifty stuff that will be worn out by 2013, and ate Swedish meatballs.

Swedish meatballs are the reason you go to Ikea, right? (Besides the fact that you can buy a cheap-but-nifty desk to completely re-engineer into a glass sculpture)

Ikea meatballs aren’t as good as the ones I used to make when I was a kid, but at some point in an Ikea shopping marathon I will gratefully GRATEFULLY trudge into the Ikea cafeteria and plop a few on my plate. Then I’ll sit in the window, munching meatballs and trying to figure out which incomprehensible Ikea components will form the piece of furniture I need.

The threesome in the next window ate meatballs, too. There were two teenagers, tall, strong and clean-cut, with the look of their mom. Mom was maybe 40, pretty and dark-haired, dressed for the 97-degree heat in loose tee shirt and shorts. The neckline slid off her shoulder, revealing a purple bra strap and a blue flower tattoo on her collarbone. She laughed at her son’s joke, and forked a meatball onto his plate.

From the sounds of it, they were furnishing her oldest boy’s room for his first year at college. He needed bookcases and a chair; the triple order of meatballs he’d just inhaled was a bonus. He and his brother picked up the trays and trash, and carted it all to the tray racks beside me.

As they left, an older woman approached their table. “I’d be ashamed,” she said, pointing to the mom’s shirt, “to dress like that around MY children. Those boys need a mother, not some hot chick with her boobs hanging out.” And she walked away.

You know, you gotta wonder about people like that–I didn’t think there was anything wrong with her outfit. “Some people,” I said pointedly, and a bit loud, “are idiots.”

I don’t think the mom heard me; or at least she didn’t look at me. She stared after the old bat, blushing, and looked about yay close to crying.

And then I saw her son, standing by the dish racks, watching the encounter. His brother was nowhere to be seen. He clenched his fists and looked absolutely enraged. I thought for a moment he’d take after the old bat, beat her to a pulp and defend his mama’s honor. (And for a second I cheered him on, which just goes to show that I should NEVER be allowed to vote.)

But he just stood there quietly for a second. Then he twisted his face up in a big smile and strode back to their table, leaned over and hugged his mama.

“Hey, Mom,” he said, LOUDLY, “Did I ever tell you how cool it is that I’ve got the prettiest mom on the whole campus?” he asked.

And then she did cry.