Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On Swedishness: A Case Study

I had a Swedish episode today. It struck me, in passing I suppose. It’s not that I felt like I had surrendered my status of a tweener. But sometimes I find myself doing very Swedish things. Like today when I walked outside at lunch.

The sun was shining. I mean really shining. Not a cloud in the sky. And the Swedish winter sky is impressive, you know, during that small window of daylight. Something about the sun never getting too high over the horizon makes for some glaring blue colors.

So walking outside was a bit of a shock to the system. The pupils shrunk. The skin soaked up the vitamin D. And I froze. I stopped right outside the door. Closed my eyes, and threw my face up to the sun. It was ridiculous. And I realized just how ridiculous it was almost immediately. Not quick enough to stop myself, but still, I felt very much like a Swede.

Later in the day, on my way home I felt less like a Swede. I was hungry. So hungry that I stopped to buy a 10 SEK hotdog from Pressbyrån. That, in and of itself, tends to be a bad idea. But it was late, and I really was hungry. I ate my salty, greasy, and strangely delicious hotdog on the way to the train. Suddenly, I realized that I was going to miss the train if I continued at my current pace. So I devoured the remaining bites of hotdog and started to run.

Now, as a general rule, it’s never a good idea to run immediately after having eaten. It’s even less of a good idea after having devoured a large compressed tube of pig intestines smothered in ketchup and mustard. So with the remains of Babe sloshing around in my gut, I sprinted to the train. For some reason, sprinting to the train with a bunch of hotdog in my stomach all because I didn’t want to wait an extra 15 minutes just didn’t seem very Swedish. I don’t know why.

But I made it. Damn right. I felt like death. Babe was pissed off in my belly. I had developed a blister from running in dress shoes. But I made it. I wouldn’t have to wait an extra 15 minutes for the train. Life was good.

Welcome to Sweden.

By the way, the title of this post will be the title of my doctoral dissertation somewhere down the line.

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  1. Sounds utterly Swedish to me, all of it... I wonder who wouldn't hurry up to catch an earlier train?

  2. well, if I have just eaten a hotdog I most definitely won't hurry to cath that train.

  3. Haha bang! totally Classic ironic comment!

  4. Come to think of it, that episode un the sun WAS Swedish. :) I liked the description of it. :)

  5. @anonymous - indeed

    @costarossa - its true, swedes just throw their faces to the sky when the sun comes out in the winter. I love walking by bus stops when te sun is out in the middle of the day.

  6. I think it's "northern latitude-ness." when I first visited Anchorage, Alaska (at the same latitude as Uppsala) it was summertime but the temperature was around 60 degrees, F, or around 15 degrees C. I had just arrived from California. I saw a young man waliking along the street with his shirt off, and I had two layers covering my torso. I thought he was just showing off his lean torso for potential admirers. After living a few years in Anchorage, I thought 60 degrees was nice and warm too, especially as the the constant sun provides radiant energy as well.

  7. Yeah, I get what you mean Ron but 15 degrees isn't considered hot here. The temperature which makes people go "topless" in Sweden is probably a few degrees (Celsius) higher. maybe like 18 degrees..?

  8. ahh.. those hotdogs.. one of the reasons i keep coming back to stocklm.. (esp. that 25kr thing they called french hotdog.. so sinfully delicious.. )

  9. @ron - Ive heard similar stories from a buddy of mine who spent some time in alaska. its amazing how people can adapt.

    @anonymous - also agreed, despite its reputation for cold weather, swedes seem to need a few extra degrees

    @carlo - the french hotdog is pretty amazing. and I love that they call it french just because they shove it in sme sort of psuedo-baguette.