Saturday, March 21, 2009

This Week in Sweden

It’s been one of those weeks full of little things that kept happening that made me pause but never really take notice. But they just kept adding up. Some made me laugh. Some made me angry. And some just made me really, really uncomfortable.

First, things that made me laugh. There were a few of them. Which obviously means it was a good week.

For example, the girl who said her favorite part about football (of the American variety) was watching the cheerleaders. Because she was a gymnast and liked watching the formations. Now, I’m no gymnastics expert, but I do know what the typical gymnast looks like. And they do not look like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory post-chewing gum. This girl looked like a small balloon. All that was missing was the blue tinted skin and Oompa Loompas running around. Let’s just say her body type didn’t seem conducive to gymnastics.

The four Asian looking tourists who stopped a very blonde Swedish looking man on a bicycle and took a picture with him. It was like a bad stereotype come to life. On so many different levels.

The girl on the ski bus prancing around in long underwear. Unbeknownst to her was the gaping hole in the seat of her pants. Right around the bass crack. That’s funny. And maybe someone should have told her. But it wasn’t going to be me.

Things that made me angry, there weren’t too many really. Which also points to a good week.

One was the two stinky guys sitting in front of me on the bus for over two hours. I know we had all been skiing. I know we might not have showered beforehand. I know. But damn it. If you smell like that throw some deodorant on. Every time you moved a cloud of your stink reached back and sucker punched my nose. And no one likes being sucker punched in the nose.

The silly anti-sexist ad agency here in Sweden that just can’t relax. Sometimes it’s ok to laugh at bad advertising. And everything doesn’t need to be sexist. Like swimming suit companies. Or Coca-Cola.

And then, there was just one thing that happened that made me feel really, really uncomfortable.

The man standing at the urinal next to me. There are a few rules to using the urinal. All of them of the unwritten variety. Allow me to write a few of them. Do not look over at me. Below or above the belt. It doesn’t matter. If you would like to speak do so while staring at the wall. Do not look over at me and continue to do so hoping I will return your eye contact. It makes me uncomfortable.

Welcome to Sweden. And my week in Stockholm.

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  1. Hi, I love your blog, you are so funny and insightful!

    I want to go to Sweden as a high school exchange student. Do you think I should do this? What are some really cool things about Sweden that would make a person want to go there?

    Also, how hard is Swedish to learn?

  2. I think it's wonderful that we have come so far in todays society that we stand up for things that are not acceptable - sexist commercials (male or female). I certainly don't want to continue spreading the image to our younger ones that we have to be and look a certain way to be worthy of existance. I applause the ones that stopped these commercials.

  3. Thats not even logical. If anything, if we are talking sweden, its a country who is famous for its open minded ways in certain matters, scandinavia is. Long ago sweden was like most european countries religious, so id rather call it a improvement the way sweden is today. And your way a "deimprovement" . It hardly posts any problems for the everyday swede.

  4. Funny post! Hairy, you have been approached by a Swedish male. With a dick in hand. I guess you would have left Sweden disappointed, if you hadn't experienced that too, LOL!
    -- and again nice word verification: fuchemal :)

  5. @anonymous - glad youve been enjoying it.

    I would definitely suggest doing a study abroad. Sweden has a lot to offer. The language, the history, the culture, the nature. There is plenty to see and do. Just being in a different country is in and of itself a great experience. And spending alonge rperiod of time really helps you to throw yourself into Swedish life.

    The learning swedish thing is hard for me to answer. My dad has always spoken swedish to me so I dont know that I can offer a whole lot there unfortunately. Some people think it is really easy. Others struggle horribly. I suppose it depends on whether you have any foreign language skills coming in and how hard and stubborn youre willing to be.

    @anonymous - there is a limit though. and the fact that a swimsuit company is being reprimanded because their models are considered to be portrayd in too sexy of a manner is just ridiculous.

    at some point people need to be taught to think and decide for themselves. to decide what is right and wrong. sexist and not sexist. to constantly have the government or some organization watching over things like that telling the people what is ok and what is not just isn't a good way to create a independent and free thniking society.

    @anonymous - agree, to think this is somehow something that Sweden needs is just ridiculous.

    @smek - it was pretty ridiculous. Im think the guy was either really really drunk. or really really tired because he kind of had that lean going where it looks like its difficult to stand up.

  6. I will probably get reamed for this and that's fine with me today. But I just usually picture the people complaining that having attractive people in sexy ads is sexist are in fact unattractive themselves. And jealous that some people have talents in the physical department. Who are they to say it's not fair that some people have sex appeal and can use it in business to sell stuff. Human nature is half of sales in some way or another.

    And I think its cute they wanted a pic of the blond Swede. I took a pic once of a line of people at a bike-through ATM. bank in Amsterdam b/c you sure as hell won't see that in the US...

  7. Anonymous #3, Hairy Swede, m8surf - Amen!

    m8surf - Double Amen!

  8. @m8surf - Im definitely ok with that. It all goes back to my theory (which, admittedly, is way out there and pretty controversial) that everyone is different. I know, I know. Calm down. It's pretty intense. But those differences should be celebrated. Especially when it results in good looking people showing off their good lookingness.

    @Robban - damn right.

  9. @Hairy - I don't know man. That is a little crazy. I mean every person does have their own genetic code and DNA. But that couldn't really mean that we are not all clones, right?

  10. maybe youre right. Im sorry. My individual thinking has gotten out of control.

    DNA is shoddy science anyway. We all know that men and women, young and old, smart and stupid are all the same. If you disagree, you're clearly prejudiced in some way. Sexist. Racist. You're just not a good person really. Duh.